At a time when the Indian Point Nuclear facility’s owner, Entergy, is applying to the State of New York for a licensing renewal that will keep the plant in operation for 20 more years, comes word from the company that:
“Recent samples from our ongoing comprehensive groundwater monitoring program identified elevated levels of tritium in three monitoring wells out of several dozen at Indian Point. While elevated tritium in the ground onsite is not in accordance with our standards, there is no health or safety consequence to the public, and releases are more than a thousand times below federal permissible limits. The tritium did not affect any source of drinking water onsite or offsite.
While the effect of these elevated values is less than one-tenth of one percent of federal reporting guidelines, Entergy made voluntary notification to the NRC, state agencies and key stakeholders.
The issue of tritium in the ground is a well-studied issue, including by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), which has previously concluded historic leaks of tritium to the ground at Indian Point have no effect on public health or safety.
Tritium, a radioactively weak isotope of hydrogen, likely reached the ground at Indian Point during recent work activities. Indian Point installed groundwater monitoring wells onsite to enable early detection of any elevated levels of radionuclides in the ground.”
On February 6th, Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered a full investigation of the incident and on February 7th, Representative Sean Patrick Maloney (NY 18th Congressional District) extended his support to the investigation:
“This latest incident isn’t the first time Indian Point has been responsible for radioactive water and unless we get serious about shutting this place down, it’s far from the last. Since coming to Congress, I’ve worked to bring an end to operations at Indian Point because it’s too great a risk to the Hudson Valley.
“I applaud Governor Cuomo for calling for further investigation and look forward to working together to responsibly end nuclear operations at Indian Point while safeguarding the jobs of those who work there and keeping energy prices low for my neighbors in the Hudson Valley.”
Governor Andrew Cuomo’s statement after learning about the leak:
The company reported alarming levels of radioactivity at three monitoring wells, with one well’s radioactivity increasing nearly 65,000 percent. The facility reports that the contamination has not migrated off site and as such does not pose an immediate threat to public health.
“Our first concern is for the health and safety of the residents close to the facility and ensuring the groundwater leak does not pose a threat.
“This latest failure at Indian Point is unacceptable and I have directed Department of Environmental Conservation Acting Commissioner Basil Seggos and Department of Health Commissioner Howard Zucker to fully investigate this incident and employ all available measures, including working with Nuclear Regulatory Commission, to determine the extent of the release, its likely duration, cause and potential impacts to the environment and public health.”
The Governor’s letter directing Acting Commissioner Seggos and Commissioner Zucker to their begin investigation can be viewed here.