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New York nuclear plant to receive 'top priority' in safety review

By David Ariosto, CNN
Gov. Andrew Cuomo says the Indian Point station represents more than "a generic conversation about nuclear power."
Gov. Andrew Cuomo says the Indian Point station represents more than "a generic conversation about nuclear power."
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The Indian Point station and sits atop the Ramapo fault line
  • It is among 27 reactors the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is reviewing
  • New York's governor says officials pledge to make Indian Point "first and top priority"
  • The plant is less than 25 miles from New York
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New York (CNN) -- A nuclear power plant less than 25 miles from New York is among 27 reactors the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is reviewing after a commission report uncovered higher safety risk than previously thought, officials said.

The Indian Point station -- which comprises two operating nuclear reactors -- is in Buchanan, New York, and sits atop the Ramapo fault line, causing concern for some residents in the wake of the Japan disaster.

During a news conference Tuesday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has pledged to make Indian Point "its first and top priority."

"It is essential that the NRC move quickly to answer the significant and long-standing safety questions," Cuomo said.

The first-year governor said the station, given its close proximity to major population centers, represents more than "a generic conversation about nuclear power."

"Evacuation is not even a feasible concept with this plant" in a worst-case scenario, he said.

But regulators say that the plant is safe and that an incident similar to Japan's, where a 9.0-magnitude earthquake and ensuing tsunami crippled reactors and raised surrounding radiation levels, is unlikely.

"U.S. plants take into effect even the most extreme conditions," commission spokesman Neil Sheehan said. "The Japanese plants seemed to have withstood the earthquake, but it was the tsunami that knocked out power."

"Indian Point (given its location) is not about to be hit by a tsunami," he said, noting that U.S. facilities are able to operate during electrical blackouts.

"We have diesel generators and backups to the diesel generators," he added.

Eric Leeds, director of the commission's Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation, said it is "continuing to examine the recently updated earthquake information."

He noted that "reactors in Eastern and central states remain safe, since our analysis confirms that overall seismic risk remains low."

The plant is run by Entergy Corp., which took out advertisements Tuesday in New York newspapers, welcoming the safety reviews.

Each plant reactor produces enough energy to power approximately 1 million households, Sheehan said.

The United States maintains 104 operating nuclear reactors, often considered an alternative to reliance on fossil fuels.

 
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