Astorino Seeks To Sue Over Plan To Close Indian Point Power Plant

BUCHANAN, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino is starting the process of suing Gov. Andrew Cuomo for closing the Indian Point power plant.

As WCBS 880’s Mike Smeltz reported, Astorino said if we are to take something as consequential as closing a nuclear power plant “and discard the environmental protections, discard the law and leave behind a waste land then why do we have environmental laws?”

Astorino is asking the county’s legislature to allow for a lawsuit against Cuomo, Riverkeeper, and Entergy for coming to an agreement to close the Indian Point plant without getting an environmental impact review of what closing the power plant would do to Westchester County and the state.

He said the review would likely show that unplugging Indian Point does not make economic or environmental sense, and that Cuomo has not justified his decision.

“Now the governor is asking us to trust him to take on faith everything will be fine and his plea to me is not credible and it’s certainly doesn’t meet the law’s requirements,” Astorino said.

The plant’s two reactors went online in 1974 and 1976. Entergy President Bill Mohl said earlier this year that increasing operational costs combined with low natural gas prices have cut into revenues, and that Entergy was facing a hard choice on the plant even before negotiations with the state began.

The plant has been subject to a series of radiation leaks, fires and unplanned outages in recent months.

In October 2016, an undetermined amount of oil spilled into a drainage canal leading to the Hudson River, creating an oil sheen and cleanup efforts.

In March 2016, hundreds of faulty bolts were discovered at the Indian Point power plant, causing the facility to shut down. Entergy Corp. said more than 2,000 bolts had been inspected when the Indian Point 2 reactor was shut down and that some of the bolts on the reactor’s inner liner were missing at the time of the discovery.

In February 2016 , Cuomo called for an investigation after an apparent overflow at the plant spilled highly radioactive water into an underground monitoring well. Nuclear regulators said the public wasn’t at risk.

In December 2015, a reactor shut down at the plant following an electrical disturbance on outdoor high voltage transmission lines.

That outage in turn came just days after control rods lost power at the Indian Point 2 reactor, forcing it to shut down for three days.

Meanwhile, questions have arisen about what will happen of the radioactive waste that is stored at the power plant when it closes. The million dollar fuel assemblies that power the plant include samples of small uranium pellets that become highly radioactive after being used in the nuclear reactors.

After cooling in the spent fuel pool for a minimum of five years, the radioactive waste is transferred to huge steel reinforced concrete tombs. It’s a system called dry cask storage.

There are already 36 dry casks sitting on a concrete pad along the Hudson River on the site, and it could take 10 years to move all the spent fuel rods to casks after both reactors are shut down in 2021.

The original plan was to take all the spent fuel at reactors nationwide to Yucca Mountain in Nevada. But after investing $11 billion, the federal government gave up in the face of lawsuits and political pressure.

The decommissioning of Indian Point could take up to 60 years after the plant is closed.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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