BUCHANAN, N.Y. – The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) said it will monitor Indian Point closely in the event union members strike when their contract expires at midnight Friday, Jan. 17.
The Utility Workers Union of America, Local 1-2 represents just shy of 400 employees at Indian Point. Their collective bargaining agreement covers operations, maintenance, chemistry and radiation safety personnel at the plant, according to the NRC.
Spokesmen for both Entergy, which owns Indian Point, and the union say they are hopeful a deal can be reached ahead of the deadline. Negotiations typically don’t really get started until the deadline, and a deal isn’t expected until late Friday night, said John Melia, spokesman for Local 1-2.
Both parties agreed to use a federal negotiator to come together on a contract, which Entergy spokesmen Jerry Nappi said is customary and was used by the same union when it negotiated its current contract four years ago. The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, an independent U.S. government agency, has been involved since Tuesday, Jan, 14.
Nappi said Thursday, Jan. 16, that Indian Point is prepared in the event of a walkout.
“Our plan allows us to continue operating both units using non-bargaining unit personnel, or personnel who are not in that union,” he said. “These individuals, some of whom previously held these positions in years gone by, they’re trained and qualified to fill those union roles.”
A statement by the NRC on Thursday states that it would ensure that Indian Point continues to operate safely and in accordance with federal regulations during a potential strike. This includes sending additional inspectors from NRC’s Region 1 office to provide increased oversight. There are three resident inspectors assigned to the plant on a full-time basis.
“This enhanced oversight would include 24-hour-a-day coverage for at least the first 48 hours of a walkout and enhanced coverage for the duration of a strike,” according to the NRC statement.
The NRC inspected Entergy’s strike contingency plans and found no issues or concerns, according to the statement.
“The purpose of the review was to evaluate the adequacy of the company’s plans, which cover areas that include staffing,” the statement read.
There were no operational problems during walkouts in recent years at the Pilgrim nuclear power plant in Massachusetts, and at the Nine Mile Point plant in upstate New York, according to the NRC.
The last strike that Local 1-2 organized was in the 1980s, Melia said. It also represents 8,000 Con Edison employees.
The license for Indian Point's Unit 2 expired Sept. 28, 2013. But, it is able to continue to operate because it began the renewal process at least five years before it's current 40-year license was set to expire.
Entergy has applied for 20-year license renewals for both Unit 2 and 3.