UPDATE 1-Indian Point nuclear plant a fire risk — New York

* State says more than 100 code violations

* Company says number far lower; takes extra precautions

* Latest effort by state to shut plant
(Adds NRC comment)

NEW YORK, March 28 (Reuters) – The Indian Point nuclear
power plant has sought more than 100 exemptions from the fire
code that could make it difficult to shut down the nearly
40-year facility in an emergency, New York’s attorney general
said on Monday.

The plant, which supplies as much as 30 percent of New York
City’s electricity, has been a constant target of the state,
which is seeking to block its owner, Entergy Corp (ETR.N: Quote, Profile, Research), from
extending it operating license.

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said the owner of
the plant, located about 40 miles north of the city, sought
waivers from federal regulators because it was in violation of
the fire safety rules.

“In the wake of Japan’s crisis, our country’s nuclear
facilities should be bolstering their safety measures, yet
Indian Point is looking to weaken its precautionary measures,”
Schneiderman said in a statement.

A spokesman for Entergy said the number of exemptions was
about one-third the number cited by the state.

The company had also also put in place extra safety
protocols while it worked through the issue, including regular
fire watch patrols conducted by employees.

“I don’t believe there’s ever been a fire that affected
safety systems,” plant spokesman Jerry Nappi said.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has long been a critic of
the plant and the state has filed a petition with the U.S.
Nuclear Regulatory Commission urging it to take enforcement
action.

Among the safety code violations were the lack of fire
detectors or suppression systems in various locations, the
inability of electrical cables to withstand fire damage for one
to three hours and the plant’s reliance on complex measures by
employees rather than on automatic systems to respond to
fires.

The NRC said it gives every request for exemptions from
fire codes a thorough review and the U.S. courts upheld its
process.

“Indian Point is currently complying with all appropriate
NRC fire protection regulations,” NRC spokesman Scott Burnell
said in an email.

Recent NRC data has also showed Indian Point was the
nation’s most vulnerable to an earthquake since it sits near a
fault line and the state has argued that New York City lies in
the potential evacuation zone if there was an accident.

The region typically does not experience strong earthquakes
and Entergy has said the plant is safe.

The state power grid operator has said the city could face
power outages if the plant is shut down without new supplies
being built.

Entergy and the state are currently negotiating water
permits regarding the plant’s discharge of cooling water.

Entergy shares were slightly higher at $66.62 on the New
York Stock Exchange.
(Reporting by Matt Daily; editing by Steve Orlofsky)

UPDATE 1-Indian Point nuclear plant a fire risk — New York