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This April 8, 1983, photo shows people in the control room of the Indian Point nuclear power plant in Buchanan, N.Y. Commercial nuclear reactors in the United States were designed and licensed for 40 years. When the first ones were being built in the 1960s and 1970s, it was expected that they would be replaced with improved models long before those licenses expired. Instead, 66 of the 104 operating units have been relicensed for 20 more years, mostly with scant public attention. As of 2011, renewal applications are under review for 16 other reactors. Applications to extend the lives of pressurized water units 2 and 3 at Indian Point, each more than 34 years old, are under review by the NRC.

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