In a major victory for environmental advocates, New York State has ruled that outmoded cooling technology at the Indian Point nuclear power plant kills so many Hudson River fish, and consumes and contaminates so much water, that it violates the federal Clean Water Act.
The decision is a blow to the plant’s owner, the Entergy Corporation, which now faces the prospect of having to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to build stadium-size cooling towers, or risk that Indian Point’s two operating reactors — which supply 30 percent of the electricity used by New York City and Westchester County — could be forced to shut down.
Entergy officials said that they were “disappointed” in the ruling and that they might fight it in court. The original federal licenses for the two 1970s-era reactors expire in 2013 and 2015, and a water quality certificate is a prerequisite for a 20-year renewal by the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission. But a prolonged appeal in New York could delay a shutdown, Diane Screnci, a spokeswoman for the commission, said late Saturday.