New York House Democrats call for hearings on nuclear relicensing

A meltdown in a plant that is close to a major population center would have catastrophic results, the lawmakers said. And they raised particular concern about the Indian Point plant in Buchanan, N.Y.

The plant, which is less than 50 miles from New York City, has been a cause of great concern among many in New York as workers continue to get control of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has called for the plant to be shut down.

“It is time for the NRC to realize that natural disasters and terrorism are all too real,” Engel said in a statement. “The terrorists flew over Indian Point on 9/11 going to the World Trade Center. Because of its location, it is too inviting a target. In addition, because it is located near two seismic faults, it is also vulnerable to earthquakes.”

The NRC recommended that Americans within 50 miles of the stricken reactors evacuate. But NRC emergency plans are developed based on a 10-mile evacuation radius.

“In the event of a terrorist event, earthquake or other natural disaster affecting Indian Point, the entire population of New York City and its suburbs would need to be evacuated,” Lowey said in the statement. “New Yorkers deserve to know relicensing decisions are made taking these basic factors into account.”

Engel and Lowey will reintroduce legislation next week that sets stringent new standards for the NRC’s relicensing process. The standards include requiring wider evacuation plans and considering major population centers.

The NRC currently requires that reactors be able to withstand major natural disasters and terrorist attacks. But liberal awmakers have revived longstanding concerns about nuclear power in light of the crisis in Japan.