The Indian Point power plant is one of 10 sites considered most in need for a re-evaluation of earthquake vulnerability, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced on Friday.
Dozens of reactors at more than 20 sites across the eastern and central parts of the country need to be re-evaluated, the commission said, because of new estimates from the United States Geological Survey. The agency’s study compared the amount of ground movement predicted when the plants were designed, and the amount calculated more recently. Sites on the West Coast will be evaluated later.
The orders issued on Friday are part of a broad effort that began before an earthquake and resulting tsunami caused a triple meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi reactors in Japan in 2011, but the project gained urgency after that event.
Because there are few engineers qualified to do the work, the commission prioritized 10, including Indian Point in Westchester County, setting a deadline for submitting a detailed risk analysis by June 2017.
Nuclear plants have been shown to be vulnerable to high-frequency ground motion, he said, meaning when the ground shakes back and forth quickly. That was the risk the Geological Survey determined was higher than previously thought.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has been studying the issue for about 20 years, he said. “I think that the time is really long past for some action,” he said, “rather than giving them yet another chance to have another study done.”
Other sites in the first group to be reassessed include the Pilgrim plant near Cape Cod, and Peach Bottom, in the Pennsylvania town of the same name.
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