May 5 - The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) told its staff to re-evaluate aspects of a severe accident mitigation analysis as part of Entergy Corp's application to renew the licenses for the Indian Point nuclear power plant in New York.
The move by the commissioners on Wednesday reverses an earlier ruling by the NRC's Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB) in 2013.
The commission made its decision after New York State sought review of the ASLB decision, according to World Nuclear News, a publication supported by the World Nuclear Association, an international nuclear trade group.
A spokesman at Indian Point said the review is expected to lengthen the license renewal review process, but noted that the power plant will continue to operate under existing licenses until the NRC makes a final decision on the application.
"This issue is an assessment of the economics of Indian Point, not an evaluation of its safety," Jerry Nappi, spokesman for Indian Point, said in an email.
Entergy is seeking a 20-year license renewal for Indian Point. The plant is located about 40 miles north of Manhattan in the town of Buchanan on the shores of the Hudson River.
To relicense the plant's two reactors, Entergy is seeking three things.
1 - The federal operating license from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).
2 - A water permit from the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (NYDEC).
3 - A Coastal Zone Management certification from the New York Department of State (NYDOS).
The following is a timeline on Entergy's efforts to relicense the two reactors at Indian Point for another 20 years:
May 2016 - NRC commissioners told the NRC staff to re-evaluate aspects of a severe accident mitigation analysis as part of Entergy's application to renew the licenses for Indian Point.
February 2016 - Entergy reports tritium leak at the plant.
January 2016 - Entergy asks U.S. federal district court to reject the NYDOS' objection to the plant's Coastal Zone Management Act certification.
December 2015 - Indian Point 3 license expires. The plant can continue to run so long as the relicensing process is ongoing.
December 2015 - New York Governor Andrew Cuomo directed state energy regulators to develop a process to prevent the premature retirement of Upstate nuclear power plants. At the same time however, he opposed the continued operation of Indian Point because he does not believe the area around the plant, located about 40 miles north of New York City, can be safely evacuated if there is a problem.
November 2015 - NYDOS objects to federal Coastal Zone Management Act certification for Indian Point. The objection, unless overturned by a court or the U.S. Secretary of Commerce, would prohibit the NRC from renewing the plant's operating licenses.
November 2015 - New York State asks NRC to deny Entergy's application to relicense the two reactors at Indian Point.
November 2015 - Entergy says it will shut the FitzPatrick reactor in Upstate New York by early 2017 due primarily to weak power market conditions brought about by low natural gas prices from shale formations. Unlike his opposition to the continued operation of Indian Point, Cuomo opposed the planned shutdown of FitzPatrick.
October 2015 - Entergy said it would shut the Pilgrim reactor in Massachusetts by June 2019 due primarily to similar weak market conditions harming FitzPatrick.
December 2014 - New York State appeals court finds Indian Point is exempt from review under the New York Coastal Zone Management Program under a grandfathering clause. The decision overturned previous decisions by the state's Supreme Court, the trial court in New York, and a regulatory decision by the NYDOS.
December 2014 - After winning a long relicensing battle with the state of Vermont, Entergy shuts the Vermont Yankee nuclear reactor due mostly to weak market conditions.
2014 - Entergy says it could take the NRC until 2017 or 2018 to complete the Indian Point relicensing process. Some analysts have suggested Entergy could strike a deal with New York that would allow the reactors to obtain the 20-year license renewal but shut sometime before the licenses expire to overcome NYDEC concerns about fish kills. That would be similar to Exelon Corp's deal with New Jersey on the Oyster Creek nuclear reactor.
2013 - Entergy wins on eight of nine contentions against the relicensing before NRC's Atomic Safety Licensing Board (ASLB). The losing contention concerns transformers, which Entergy said it would fix. The ASLB, which allowed other contentions since 2012, had at least six other contentions to hear before providing a recommendation on whether to approve Entergy's relicensing application to the NRC commission.
September 2013 - Unit 2 license expired. The unit can continue operating so long as the relicensing process is ongoing.
2013-14 - NYDEC proposes Entergy shut Indian Point reactors for an average of 42 days during summer instead of installing cooling towers to protect fish to qualify for the State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System and Water Quality Certificate, which the plant needs to continue operating.
2012 - NRC ASLB holds hearings on 10 contentions from environmental groups and New York State opposed to the relicensing. With so many contentions, the NRC cannot say when the Commission will make a final decision on relicensing.
2011 - Andrew Cuomo becomes governor of New York. He opposes the continued operation of Indian Point.
2010 - NYDEC denies Indian Point Water Quality Certificate because it believes the plant violates the federal Clean Water Act and wants Entergy to install a closed loop cooling system like cooling towers. Entergy has argued before an administrative law judge and others at the NYDEC that cooling towers would cost up to $2 billion and could not be built before 2029. Instead, Entergy wants to install a $200 to $250 million Wedgewire screen system that would protect more fish because it could be installed in about three years.
2009 - Entergy files with NYDEC for a 20-year Water Quality Certificate that is required before the NRC can relicense the reactors.
2007 - Entergy files with NRC to renew both unit's 40-year operating licenses for an additional 20 years.
2003 - NYDEC determined Indian Point will have to do more to reduce the impact of the plant's cooling water intake system on aquatic organisms. Indian Point withdraws up to 2.5 billion gallons of water a day from the Hudson River. The state and environmental groups have said the cooling system kills over a billion fish, fish eggs and larvae each year. Entergy has been seeking the State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System from the NYDEC ever since.
2001 - Entergy buys Indian Point Unit 2 from Consolidated Edison Inc for $502 million plus about $100 million for the fuel.
2000 - Entergy buys Indian Point Unit 3 and the FitzPatrick reactors from New York Power Authority (NYPA) for $967 million.
1992 - Indian Point owners file with NYDEC to renew the plant's State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit.
1976 - Unit 3 enters commercial service.
1974 - Unit 2 enters commercial service.
1974 - Con Edison shuts Unit 1.
1974 - To help Con Edison weather the financial crisis after the 1973 OPEC oil embargo, New York State ordered the state-owned NYPA to buy and complete a couple of power plants Con Edison was building at the time, including Unit 3 at Indian Point.
1962 - Con Edison gets operating license for the 275-MW Unit 1, a pressurized water reactor. (Reporting by Scott DiSavino)