(The Center Square) – The state of New York on Friday filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission after the federal agency denied the state a hearing over the decommission plan for the Indian Point nuclear power plant, Attorney General Letitia James announced.
James, in a statement, called a for thorough dismantling of the facility and raised concerns about the NRC’s decision to allow Holtec International to spend more than $630 million in trust funds meant for decommissioning to instead be used on spent fuel management. That, she said, is a federal responsibility.
“The NRC is attempting to bypass critical transparency and accountability steps, and also is seeking to make New Yorkers pay for the job,” she said.
Entergy, Indian Point’s owner, four years ago agreed to shut down the final two operating units at the Buchanan facility along the Hudson River in Westchester County, roughly 50 miles north of Manhattan. The plant’s second unit was closed last April, and the third unit is slated for termination this April.
A year ago on Saturday, the commission said it would consider allowing Entergy to transfer the plant’s license to Holtec. The transfer, which was approved on Nov. 23, included the trust fund dollars.
The trust fund, which totals more than $2 billion, is meant for the license holder to use to continue the decommissioning process after the plants no longer are operational. That money was generated through New York power customers paying their utility bill.
According to James and other state leaders, if the federal government lets Holtec use roughly a third of the trust fund dollars for spent fuel management, it will essentially let the company keep the money instead of putting federal reimbursement money back in the trust fund. It also raises concerns whether the decommissioning process will have enough funding for it to be done safely.
“Cleaning up Indian Point will be complicated and expensive, which is why it is critical that the NRC prioritizes an open and transparent process to ensure that Indian Point is decommissioned and restored both safely and thoroughly,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. “In addition, decommissioning trusts funded by ratepayers should not be used as a slush fund to cover expenses that are ultimately the federal government's obligation."
The state’s petition to the appellate court calls on judges to vacate a Jan. 15 NRC order denying New York’s request to intervene in the license transfer process.
It also seeks to stop the transfer of licenses to Holtec and the commission’s approval for Holtec to use trust fund dollars for spent fuel management.
“Westchester residents deserve to have their voices heard on whether or not Holtec is right for our community,” said Westchester County Executive George Latimer. “Indian Point is in our backyard and the decommissioning process is one that will impact our region for generations. We need answers on Holtec’s plans for protecting local jobs and restoring the site environment while also seeing adequate proof of sufficient financial responsibility.”