Even as global nuclear power prospects have been overshadowed by events in the past year, US nuclear power has remained relatively steady. But controversy following the Fukushima disaster is starting to impact operations at existing nuclear units as well as permitting for proposed facilities.

Particularly controversial has been upstate New York’s Indian Point nuclear plant run by Entergy in Buchanan, New York. As the plant reaches its fortieth year and Entergy applies for a new 20-year license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, several key stakeholders are trying to block the way.

Calling the plant “aging” and “leaking,” opponents to the relicensing, including Clearwater, Riverkeeper and New York State, maintain that the plant is unsafe and poses serious risk to the surrounding population, in particular children, the elderly, the sick and the largely low-income minority residents that live in the area.

“The NRC has failed to recognize the disproportionate impacts a serious accident at Indian Point would have on them, failed to look for ways to reduce these impacts, and failed to assess the plant’s environmental impact statement with respect to them,” Clearwater said in a statement.

The NRC completed the environmental impact statement for Indian Point in December 2010, but Clearwater maintained – in its December 22 testimony presented to the NRC – that the review did was “not based upon a “hard look” at the issue, as is required by the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) and the Commission’s own guidance, and is erroneous.”

The testimony claims that the environmental impact study failed to review evacuation plants of nearby communities in case of emergency and failed to identify facilities, such as homeless shelters, jails, hospitals and nursing homes, that would have special needs in case of emergency. Read all the testimony documents here.

“These failures mean that the relicensing of Indian Point cannot proceed,” said Richard Webster of Public Justice, the Washington DC-based law firm that is working as a consultant for Clearwater.

Photo Caption: The Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant on the banks of the Hudson River March 22, 2011 in Buchanan, NY. The Indian Point station, comprised of two operating nuclear reactors, sits atop the Ramapo fault line, causing concern for some residents in the wake of the Japan disaster.