Sunday, 7 February 2016

Radioactice leak at New York's Indian Point

NY to probe 'radioactive' water leak at Indian Point

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http://www.lohud.com/story/news/politics/politics-on-the-hudson/2016/02/06/ny-probe-radioactive-water-leak-indian-point/79929984/

5 February, 2016

ALBANY - New York will investigate the Indian Point Energy Center after Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he learned that "radioactive tritium-contaminated water" leaked into the groundwater at the nuclear facility in Westchester County.

Cuomo, in a letter Saturday to the state Health Department and the Department of Environmental Conservation, called for the probe after he said Entergy Corp., the Buchanan plant's owner, reported "alarming levels of radioactivity" at three monitoring wells.
While the facility reported that the contamination has not migrated off site and did not pose an immediate public health threat, Cuomo said that the incident requires a full investigation.

"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," said Cuomo, who lives in New Castle, Westchester County.
Entergy spokesperson Jerry Nappi said through an email that the elevated levels of tritium are more than a thousand times below federal limits, and there is no health risks to the public. Drinking water sources both onsite and offsite were not affected.
"While elevated tritium in the ground onsite is not in accordance with our standards, there is no health or safety consequence to the public," Nappi said in the email.
Entergy voluntarily notified the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, state agencies and stakeholders about the elevated levels of tritium in the monitoring wells, Nappi said.
Tritium, which is a radioactively weak isotope of hydrogen, likely reached the ground at Indian Point during recent work activities, Nappi said. Groundwater monitoring wells were installed around the nuclear plant to provide early detection of any elevated levels of radionuclides in the ground.
Buchanan Mayor Theresa Knickerbocker said Entergy informed local officials on Friday about the elevated levels of tritium. Entergy, Knickerbocker said, has "always been upfront” and kept us “informed about what’s going on over there.”
Residents were not contacted about the recent finding because Entergy officials said there was no threat to public safety, Knickerbocker said. “My concern is for public health and safety," she said, but we were assured “there was not a threat to public health or safety.”

The findings of contamination drew harsh criticisms from state 
Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee, D-Suffern, who said in a released statement that this was not the "first time Entergy's operation and maintenance has failed." The nuclear power plant, Jaffee added, "cannot continue to operate as it has without a full and thorough investigation of this incident."
"My primary concern is the potential impact this tritium-contaminated water may have on the health and safety of those who live nearby but also the impact this radioactive water may have on public health and our environment," Jaffee said in the statement.
The Buchanan plant, which supplies about 30 percent of the energy to New York City, has been under increased scrutiny from Cuomo's office, and the Democratic governor supports closing the plant — even as he supports keeping open two other upstate nuclear facilities.
Cuomo said the “latest failure at Indian Point is unacceptable."
He said the DEC and health department should "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.”
In December, Cuomo ordered an investigation into Indian Point after a series of unplanned shutdowns, citing its risks being just outside the city and in the populated suburbs. A month later, Entergy filed suit against Secretary of State Cesar Perales in federal court, seeking a court order to toss out the state's refusal to grant the power plant a certificate to operate on the Hudson River.
Perales, a member of Cuomo’s cabinet, rejected Entergy’s request for a Coastal Zone certificate on Nov. 6 to use the Hudson River. In a letter to Entergy, Perales said for the past 40 years the plant has been "damaging the coastal resources of the Hudson River,” withdrawing billions of gallons of water a day, and killing at least a billion fish.
Since 2007, Entergy has been seeking to extend its licenses for Indian Point’s two reactors, Units 2 and 3, for 20 more years. In December, the plant’s Unit 3 reactor eclipsed its original 40-year licensing period — a mark that the plant’s Unit 2 reactor reached in September 2013.
A view of the Indian Point nuclear power plant, photographed
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A view of the Indian Point nuclear power plant, photographed from Peekskill. (Photo: Joe Larese/The Journal News)

The nuclear power plant can continue to operate until the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission decides on its application — a process that will take several years, Nappi said.
Plant opponents have cited numerous shutdowns in 2015 as red flags of an aging infrastructure.
On Dec. 7, a malfunctioning roof fan caused the plant’s Unit 2 reactor to shut down for three days. On Dec. 14, the plant’s Unit 3 reactor was shut down for nearly three daysdue to an electrical disturbance.
Earlier in 2015, Indian Point was shut down 19 days in May and July due to a May 7 steam leak; a May 9 transformer failure, which spilled about 3,000 gallons of oil into the Hudson River; a July 8 pump motor failure; and a June 15 switchyard-breaker failure in a Consolidated Edison substation near the power plant.
Staff writer Michael D'Onofrio contributed to this article. 

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