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Ban on Dumping Radioactive Waste into Hudson Passes Legislature

Indian Point, Buchanan

During a two-day special session, the New York State Assembly voted on June 20 to ban nuclear plants –including the owner of Indian Point– from dumping radioactive waste into the Hudson River.

The owner, Holtec International Corporation, is in charge of decommissioning Indian Point and has announced plans to discharge more than one million tons of radioactive waste water into the Hudson River starting as early as September. (See our previous coverage).

The legislation (S6893), sponsored by State Senator Pete Harckham (D), passed unanimously through the Senate on June 9, before the legislature’s regular session adjourned. The measure is now headed to Gov. Kathy Hochul’s desk for her approval.

Indian Point’s waste water contains traces of radioactive tritium, which is linked to cancer, miscarriages, genetic defects, and other health issues. Pregnant women and very young children are most at risk from exposure.

Holtec spokesperson Pat O’Brien said discharge to the river is the safest option for dealing with the waste water. Other methods include evaporating the water or holding it on-site to release at a later date which environmental groups and public health experts recommend.

Tracy Brown, President of the non-profit environmental group Riverkeeper, said storing the water on-site for 12 years or so would give Holtec time to explore long-term options to separate the tritium from the waste water.

Representatives from 32 municipalities, five counties, both of New York’s US senators, and the entire Hudson Valley delegation voiced opposition to the discharge, according to State Senator Harckham.

If the bill becomes law, the fines for radioactive waste dumping range from $37,500 to $150,000 per day.


Joyce Newman
Joyce Newman
Joyce H. Newman is an Emmy Award-winning environmental journalist, educator, and gardener. She holds a Certificate in Horticulture from The New York Botanical Garden, and is a tour guide there.
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