CORTLANDT, N.Y. – The Atomic Safety and Licensing Board will hold a first round of evidentiary hearings Oct. 15 in the disputed license renewal application for the Indian Point nuclear power plants, at the Doubletree Hotel Tarrytown.
The hearings are open to the public. A statement issued by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said, "Courtroom decorum will be observed."
Signs and placards will not be allowed in the room, security will screen people wishing to attend, and only credentialed members of the media will be allowed to photograph and record the hearing.
The Oct. 15 hearing begins at 1 p.m. Subsequent hearings through Oct. 18 will begin at 9 a.m. Evidentiary hearings also are scheduled for Oct. 22 through 24 and Dec. 10 through 14.
Atomic Safety and Licensing Board hearings function similar to federal appeals court hearings. The three-member panel has already received evidence and arguments from interested parties, namely, the owner and operator of the reactors, Entergy Nuclear; and those who have filed contentions against relicensing the plants, including New York state, Riverkeeper and Hudson River Sloop Clearwater.
Many of the 10 contentions that the licensing board begins hearing Oct. 15 challenge the NRC's compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act, a strategy which won New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman a major victory against the NRC in June, overturning a nationwide safety ruling regarding storage of spent fuel rods.
The license renewal applications for Indian Point Units 2 and 3 have the most contentions ever filed in a license renewal proceeding.
An NRC spokesperson has said the license renewal has already extended far beyond the normal time frame of about 18 months. The license renewal proceeding is likely to continue for at least another two years, as the NRC develops another nationwide ruling on spent fuel safety to replace the one overturned in Schneiderman's case in June.
The now-overturned "waste confidence decision" would have allowed spent fuel to be stored on-site at nuclear power plants for as long as 60 years after plants were decommissioned; the decision assumed that a geologic repository for storing high-level commercial nuclear waste would be available "when necessary."
Indian Point Units 2 and 3, whose licenses expire in 2013 and 2015 respectively, will be able to operate for as long as it takes the NRC and the licensing board to issue a final decision on the license renewal. The provision, known as "timely renewal application," allows the plants to operate until a decision is reached.