Several dozen people packed a conference room at the DoubleTree Hotel in Tarrytown Monday for the first of 12 remaining evidentiary hearings for the Indian Point Energy Center’s license renewal application.
Entergy, the company that owns the nuclear power plant, submitted an application for a 20-year extension to operate Indian Point. The original 40-year operating licenses for Indian Point Units 2 and 3 are due to expire on Sept. 28, 2013 and Dec. 12, 2015.
Issues brought up by the state, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater Inc., Riverkeeper and other parties listed as intervenors in the licensing process will be addressed throughout the proceedings.
The hearings are being presided over by three judges from the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board Panel. The Atomic Safety and Licensing Board Panel is the independent judicial body of the U.S. National Regulatory Committee.
“This isn’t the typical courtroom,” Lawrence McDade, one of the three administrative judges assigned to the hearing, said. “A typical courtroom is really only set up for two parties—to have a plaintiff and a defendant. Here we have 10 parties and also we anticipated having public interest and most courtrooms do not have enough room for a significant number of members from the public.”
The list of objections that have been brought those opposed opposed to granting the license renewal include concerns that an adequate contamination mitigation plan hasn't been developed in the event of a disaster, that enough analysis hasn't been done on the aging infrastructure at the energy center and fears of environmental contamination from storage pools that house used fuel rods.
“During the course of this hearing, you are going to hear about two different types of contentions—environmental contentions and safety and technical contentions,” McDade said. “Really there’s nothing that involves safety that doesn’t really involve the environment and vice versa.”
In regard to safety, McDade said Entergy has the burden of proving it will be able to run the facility in a safe manner.
McDade said the judges have already received 7,000 pages of testimony and 1,400 pages of exhibits from the interveners in this hearing.
“We’re not starting at square one,” McDade said. “We’re starting pretty much in the middle.”
Jim Steets, communications director for the Entergy company that owns the plant, said "we are pretty confident" in how things will go in the coming weeks (and months, if not years). He anticipated the question of relicensing, seriously begun in 2007, would not be resolved for several more years.
See video of Steets here. "When all is said is done, it will be hard to argue that there wasn't an opportunity to express every side," Steets said. "I do have a sense that this is a good opportunity for us to present the scientific and technical basis for our argument to the public."
Hearings will be held this through Thursday and are scheduled to start at 9 a.m. and end at about 6 p.m., McQuade said. People can start entering the hotel conference room at 8:30 a.m. No public comments are allowed.
Future hearing dates have been scheduled for Oct. 22-24 and Dec. 10-14.