New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says U.S. nuclear regulators have agreed to make the Indian Point power plant their top priority as they review seismic risks in some of the nation's nuclear plants.
The head of the Nuclear Regulatory Council, Greg Jaczko will take part in a personal inspection of the plant together with New York officials, Cuomo's office said.
Cuomo has previously called for shutting down the plant. He has also worked to prevent federal relicensing of reactors for another 20 years when their licenses expire in 2013 and 2015.
A statement from his office said among its other structural and safety flaws, the facility is situated near a fault line and concerns have been raised about whether it was designed to withstand the seismic activity that could result from an earthquake.
The plant's operator, Entegy, said last week that the plant is designed to withstand an earthquake greater in size than the area has ever experienced. The site of Indian Point Energy Center is located less than 24 miles from New York City.
U.S. officials in Japan ordered that Americans within 50 miles of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant evacuate the area amid concerns about the safety and stability of the plant following malfunctions in the plant's cooling system.
The reason the risk is low for Indian Point is partly because of the geology and tectonics of the East Coast region, Entegy said in a statement. Indian Point is neither susceptible to the type of earthquake that occurred in Japan, nor the tsunami that followed that ultimately removed the cooling capability of the Japanese plants.
The company says Indian point will be performing a comprehensive review of the plants ability to respond to catastrophic events.
In a letter to NRC Chairman Jaczko last week, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said that while New York State had raised concerns about seismic risk and other issues regarding the plant with the NRC staff, the NRC has refused to consider these critical issues in the relicensing process.
Two of the reactors - Unit 2 and Unit 3 - at the plant came online in 1973 and 1975 and are currently being considered to extend their license for another 20 years.
Schneiderman said many of the structures and components of the structure belong to a third reactor, built in 1956, that was decommissioned in 1980.
These aging Unit 1 systems, structures, and components were built to inferior seismic specifications, and Unit 2 and Unit 3's continued reliance on these systems today poses significant safety questions, Schneiderman said.
Units 2 and 3 at Indian Point are Pressurized Water Reactors built by Westinghouse. Their licenses are set to expire on September 28, 2013 and December 15, 2015, respectively.
That Nuclear Energy Institute, which is a policy group representing the nuclear industry, said in the wake of the Japan nuclear crisis that it will incorporate lessons learned from this accident at American nuclear energy facilities.