- Nuclear Power
- Nuclear Safety
- List of NPP
- Nuclear Accident
Posted by Energetic
Indian Point Energy Center (IPEC) is a three-unit nuclear power plant station located in Buchanan, New York just south of Peekskill. It sits on the east bank of the Hudson River, 38 miles north of New York City. The power plant provides up to 30% of the electricity used by New York City and Westchester County.The Indian Point Energy Center is owned and operated by Entergy Nuclear Northeast, a subsidiary of Entergy Corporation, and includes two operating Westinghouse pressurized water reactors – designated Indian Point 2 and Indian Point 3 – which Entergy bought from Consolidated Edison and the New York Power Authority respectively. The facility also contains the permanently shut down Indian Point Unit 1 reactor. Total employment at the site is 1,683.
Indian Point Energy Center 1, built by Consolidated Edison, was the first of three reactors at this location. It was a 275-megawatt pressurized water reactor and was issued an operating license on March 26, 1962 and started operations on September 16, 1962. The first core at the Indian Point power station used a thorium-based fuel, but it did not live up to expectations. The plant was operated with uranium oxide fuel for the remainder of its operations.
The Unit 1 reactor was shut down on October 31, 1974 because the emergency core cooling system did not meet regulatory requirements. All spent fuel was removed from the reactor vessel by January 1976. The licensee, Entergy, plans to decommission Unit 1 with Unit 2.
The two additional reactors, Indian Point 2 and 3, were built in 1974 and 1976. Together they generate up to 30% of the electricity used in New York City, depending on a variety of conditions.
Indian Point Energy Center stores used fuel rods in two spent fuel pools at the facility. According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the Indian Point spent fuel pools, which contain more nuclear material than the reactors, "have no containment structure". According to Jonathan Alter, the pools are located in bedrock, not above-ground as at many other plants including the Japanese ones. Indian Point began "dry casking" spent fuel rods in 2008, a "safer alternative". Some rods have already been moved to casks from the spent fuel pools, which will be kept "nearly full of spent fuel, leaving enough space to allow emptying the reactor completely should that become necessary."
On October 17, 1981, 100,000 gallons of Hudson River water leaked into the Indian Point 2 containment building from the fan cooling unit, undetected by a safety device designed to detect hot water. The flooding, covering the first 9 feet of the reactor vessel, was discovered when technicians entered the building. Two pumps which should have removed the water were found to be inoperative. NRC proposed a $210,000 fine for the incident.
In 2005, Entergy workers while digging discovered a small leak in a spent fuel pool. Water containing tritium and strontium 90 was leaking through a crack in the pool building "and then finding its way into the nearby Hudson River." Workers were able to keep the fuel rods "safely covered" despite the leak. On March 22, 2006 the New York Times also reported finding radioactive nickel-63 and strontium in groundwater on site.
On April 23, 2007, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission fined the owner of the Indian Point nuclear plant $130,000 for failing to meet a deadline for a new emergency siren plan. The 150 sirens at the plant are meant to alert residents within 10 miles to a plant emergency.
On January 7, 2010, NRC inspectors reported that an estimated 600,000 gallons of mildly radioactive steam was intentionally vented after an automatic shutdown of Unit 2. The levels of tritium in the steam were below those allowable by NRC safety standards.
On November 7, 2010, an explosion occurred in the main transformer for Indian Point 2.
On March 10, 2009 the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant was awarded the fifth consecutive top safety rating for annual operations by the Federal regulators. According to the Hudson County Journal News, the plant had shown substantial improvement in its "safety culture" in the previous two years.
Indian Point Energy Center is protected by federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, including a National Guard base within a mile of the facility, as well as by private off-site security forces.
During the September 11 attacks, American Airlines Flight 11 flew near the Indian Point Energy Center en route to the World Trade Center. Mohamed Atta, one of the 9/11 hijackers/plotters, had considered nuclear facilities for targeting in a terrorist attack. Entergy says it is prepared for a terrorist attack, and asserts that a large airliner crash into the containment building would not cause reactor damage. Following 9/11 the NRC required operators of nuclear facilities in the U.S. to examine the effects of terrorist events and provide planned responses. In September 2006, the Indian Point Security Department successfully completed mock assault exercises required by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. However, according to Riverkeeper, an environmental group, these NRC exercises are inadequate, because they do not envision a large enough group of attackers.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation states that the spent fuel pools at Indian Point are "exposed and unsecured" and therefore "vulnerable to attack". According to the New York Times, fuel stored in dry casks is "less vulnerable to terrorist attack than fuel in the storage pools".
A 2003 report commissioned by then Governor George Pataki concluded that the "current radiological response system and capabilities are not adequate to...protect the people from an unacceptable dose of radiation in the event of a release from Indian Point.”
The Indian Point Energy Center evacuation plan focuses "on a 10-mile ring populated by about 300,000 people." In the wake of the 2011 Japanese nuclear accidents, columnist Peter Applebome noted in The New York Times that a fifty mile radius from Indian Point (the area which the State Department suggested Americans avoid in Japan) "includes almost all of New York City except for Staten Island; almost all of Nassau County and much of Suffolk; all of Bergen County, N.J.; all of Fairfield, Conn.". He quotes Purdue University professor Daniel Aldrich: "“Many scholars have already argued that any evacuation plans shouldn’t be called plans, but rather ‘fantasy documents".
In an interview, Entergy executives said they doubt that the evacuation zone would be expanded to reach as far as New York City.
Researchers from Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory have located a previously unknown active seismic zone running from Stamford, Connecticut, to the Hudson Valley town of Peekskill, New York - the Ramapo Fault - which passes less than a mile north of the Indian Point nuclear power plant. Indian Point was built to withstand an earthquake of 6.1 on the Richter scale, according to a company spokesman. Entergy executives have also noted "that Indian Point had been designed to withstand an earthquake much stronger than any on record in the region, though not one as powerful as the quake that rocked Japan".
Msnbc.com reports however that "Indian Point nuclear reactor No. 3 has the highest risk of earthquake damage in the country, according to new NRC risk estimates provided to msnbc.com." According to the report, the reason is that plants in known earthquake zones like California were designed to be more quake-resistant than those in less affected areas like New York.
NRC responded in a release that "The NRC results to date should not be interpreted as definitive estimates of seismic risk."
On May 2, 2007, the NRC announced that the "License Renewal Application for Indian Point Nuclear Plant is available for Public Inspection". This initiated Entergy's effort to extend the operating licenses of each unit by 20 years. The original federal licenses for the two reactors expire in 2013 and 2015.
On September 23, 2007, Friends United for Sustainable Energy (FUSE) filed legal papers with the NRC opposing the relicensing of the Indian Point 2 reactor. The group contends that the NRC improperly held Indian Point to less stringent design requirements. The NRC responds that the newer requirements were put in place after the plant was complete.
On December 1, 2007, Westchester County Executive Andrew J. Spano, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, and New York Governor Elliot Spitzer called a press conference with the participation of environmental advocacy groups Clearwater and Riverkeeper to announce their united opposition to the re-licensing of the Indian Point nuclear power plants. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Office of the Attorney General requested a hearing as part of the process put forth by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.] In September 2007 The New York Times reported on the rigorous legal opposition Entergy faces in its request for a 20-year licensing extension for Indian Point Nuclear reactor 2.
A water quality certificate is a prerequisite for a 20-year renewal by the NRC. On 3 April 2010 the Department of Environmental Conservation ruled that Indian Point violates the federal Clean Water Act, because "the power plant’s water-intake system kills nearly a billion aquatic organisms a year, including the shortnose sturgeon, an endangered species." The state is demanding Entergy construct new closed-cycle cooling towers, at a cost of over $1B, a decision that will effectively close the plant for nearly a year. Regulators denied Entergy's request to install fish screens that they said would improve fish mortality more than new cooling towers.
Advocates of recertifying Indian Point include New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, who says that "Indian Point is critical to the city's economic viability".
As governor, Andrew Cuomo continues to call for closure of Indian Point. Several members of the House of Representatives representing districts near the plant have also opposed recertification, including Democrats Nita Lowey, Maurice Hinchey, and Eliot Engel and then Republican member Sue Kelly.
|Indian Point Energy Center|
|Locale||Buchanan, New York|
|Commission date||Unit 2: August 1, 1974 |
Unit 3: August 30, 1976
|Licence expiration||Unit 2: September 28, 2013 |
Unit 3: December 12, 2015
|Architect(s)||United Engineers and Constructors|
|Constructor(s)||United Engineers and Constructors|
|Power generation information|
|Installed capacity||Unit 2: 1,020 MW |
Unit 3: 1,025
|Annual generation||Unit 2: 8,842 GWh|
Unit 3: 7,797