Saturday, September 17, 2011

NRC Says Japan's Earthquake is No Reason to Hold Off on Relicensing Indian Point

When I covered the Indian Point nuclear power plants, from roughly 1995 through 2000, I always thought the Nuclear Regulatory Commission was serious and diligent about its work. But I also thought they were in the business of regulating nuclear power plants, not putting them out of business, so it always seemed unlikely that they would take any steps to shut down IP or any other nuclear power plant in the absence of a real safety violation.

So it hardly seemed surprising the other day when the NRC said that in the aftermath of the earthquake in Japan and the disaster that befell the nuke plant there, it was not going to suspend the relicensing process for Indian Point and other plants. Riverkeeper, which responded on Twitter with a "surprise surprise," wasn't exactly shocked either.

It's not that the NRC has never taken such a step before. But the only time it did so was after the nation's worst nuke plant disaster, Three Mile Island:

The NRC has a precedent for suspending reviews. After Three Mile Island's nuclear plant accident in 1979, the agency issued no new operating licenses, construction permits, or limited work authorizations for three months.


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