(CN) – A New York assemblyman claims the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is endangering the public by allowing the Indian Point nuclear plant to use substandard insulation around electric cables that would control the shutdown of the reactor in the event of a core meltdown.
Richard L. Brodsky, assemblyman for the 92nd District, says the NRC had no authority to grant the Indian Point Energy Center, in Westchester County, an exemption to use insulation that protects shutdown cables against fire for 24 minutes, instead of the legally required one hour.
Brodsky, a Democrat, says the plant has been operating under the exemption since 2007.
Brodsky sued the NRC in Manhattan Federal Court, with co-plaintiffs the Westchester Citizens Awareness Network, Public Health and Sustainable Energy, and the Sierra Club. They claim the NRC violated federal environmental laws and regulations by granting the exemption without legal authority to do so, and without holding public hearings.
“The ‘exemption’ now allows the nuclear reactor to operate with greatly reduced fire protection thereby putting the public at heightened risk of consequences of a loss of reactor control resulting from a fire, catastrophic event, terrorist attack, or a combination of those events,” Brodsky says in the complaint.
NRC regulations require all nuclear power plants built before 1979 to wrap their emergency shutdown cables in fire-retardant insulation capable of withstanding a fire for one hour.
Indian Point’s exemption requires its insulation to hold off the flames for just 24 minutes, Brodsky says.
The 2nd Circuit dismissed a similar complaint from Brodsky last year on jurisdictional grounds.
The plaintiffs want the court to declare that the NRC exemption violates federal law, and force the plant into compliance.
They are represented by Brodsky and Susan Shapiro of Spring Valley, N.Y.