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Report on the Indian Point License Renewal Public Hearing

  • MIT Room 24-213 24 Cambridge, MA 02142 (map)

Aditi Verma

MIT Nuclear Science and Engineering

Jake Jurewicz

MIT Nuclear Science and Engineering

On April 23, 2015, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards held a public hearing for the renewal of the operating licenses for Indian Point 2 and 3, a pair of Westinghouse pressurized-water reactors located 35 miles from Times Square.

With a population of over 20 million living within the 50 mile emergency-planning zone, the Indian Point reactors have been the most scrutinized and historically contentious reactors licensed in the United States. In January 1976, Robert Pollard, the NRC's project manager for Indian Point 3 resigned, issuing a statement that it would be mere luck if the reactor did not have an accident during its lifetime. During a follow-up investigation, Louis Carter, an administrative-law judge and the chairman of the investigation panel, also resigned, saying the investigation had become "incompatible with any sense of fairness," citing the NRC for inadequate information and public participation. A series of eight safety incidents and small radiation releases have stoked public dissent over the reactor's life. The license renewal, which begun in 2007, has been the longest running in the United States; the renewal for Indian Point 2 being delayed well beyond the 2013 expiration of the original license.

Despite its contentious past, there were no intervenors at the April 23 hearing. NSE graduate students Aditi Verma and Jake Jurewicz will report on what transpired at the meeting, the public attitudes towards nuclear power, risk, and safety that they observed, what the lack of intervenors might mean for future public acceptance of nuclear power during an era where climate concern and demand for non-carbon energy is at a maximum.