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Indian Point Owner Plans to Dump Radioactive Water into Hudson River

The decommissioned Indian Point Power Plant

As early as August 2023, or sooner, Holtec International, the owner of the Indian Point nuclear facility conducting decommissioning operations, plans to discharge one million gallons of treated, but still radioactive, waste water into the Hudson River from which seven municipalities source their drinking water and others rely on as a backup source.

Holtec claims this is the best solution for disposing of contaminated waste water because the river will dilute the effects of the toxic radiation. But Westchester environmental and energy groups oppose the plans, as do many science and public health experts who study potential health risks, particularly for young children and women.

At a public forum on Feb. 16 concerning the public health and safety impacts of decommissioning the Indian Point Plant, Dr. Kathy Nolan, Pediatrician and President of Physicians for Social Responsibility of New York, noted that a formal health impact assessment for those at risk is needed before any action by Holtec, or else, she argues, no discharge should be allowed under the precautionary principle, given that potentially dangerous health impacts would be unknown.

“Since the Hudson is a tidal river, radioactive wastewater can affect communities all the way up to Poughkeepsie and down to Manhattan, Staten Island, and New Jersey,” said Nancy S. Vann, president of the Safe Energy Rights Group, last year.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) regulates the decommissioning process, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), sets standards for ‘safe’ levels of radioactive contaminants in water. But experts say that neither of these federal agencies adequately considers the unique vulnerability of developing fetuses, children and women to radioactive exposures. Also, the NRC rules do not take into account the seven communities that draw their water from the Hudson, consuming it on a daily basis and also using it for cooking, bathing and showering. Nor does the NRC take into consideration impacts on fish and wildlife.

In fact, radioactive waste has been released into the Hudson River for decades–as long as Indian Point has existed. It was accepted as long as it was “below regulatory concern” according to standards set by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in the 70’s.

But scientists now understand much more about the adverse effects of certain radioactive toxins, such as tritium, which cannot be filtered out of the waste water pools and which may adversely affect human health and our ecosystems. One expert at the public forum, Arnie Gundersen, a former nuclear industry executive and chief engineer at the non-profit Fairewinds Associates, explained that the EPA’s limits on safe levels of tritium are very inadequate.

The forum experts generally recommended the least harmful, most prudent way forward is storage onsite along with the high level radioactive fuel rods until the tritium can decay or new scientific methods of removal are discovered. In addition, advocacy groups recommended that Westchester municipalities pass their own resolutions opposing Holtec’s plans.

For more detailed information, health recommendations, and proposed resolutions for Westchester communities, go here.

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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Kimberly McBroom
Kimberly McBroom
March 20, 2023 1:50 PM

How stupid is this???? I mean, dumping radioactive waste into any body of water is just plain brainless!! Do they not think or even care about the health hazards and the fact that this will KILL many animals that live in the Hudson or drink from it. Of course this company is located in NY and we know there are too many liberals there, so they probably think this is A-OK. I still don’t agree with this. Whose permission do they have to dump this????

Patty O’Connor
Patty O’Connor
March 17, 2023 8:16 AM

Seems certain people have learned nothing and couldn’t care less.

Edward S Causin
Edward S Causin
March 16, 2023 6:14 PM

It doesn’t take a scientist, water pollution specialist, or even an especially bright person to recognize that dumping a million gallons of radioactive water into a tidal or other river cannot be good for the river or surrounding land areas that use the water. Any argument is simply not truly valid since there aren’t any long term studies re the effect of different amounts of water to radioactive waste. It may even be the harm won’t show up until years after the event occurs and the results may not even be those that we currently understand as being truly harmful.

This is all about saving money. I would hope we have reached a point in our society were we accept that the life and health of a population are more important than saving money for financial gain.

I am not an authority, however, it would be obvious that pollution to water would be less harmful in the ocean than the limited amount of water in a river. Alternatively storing the water until some clearer method of decontamination is created may be more expensive but clearly safer.

rosemary patterson
rosemary patterson
March 5, 2023 8:23 AM

This is the first I am hearing of this. We must not let that happen. What can be done?

April 11, 2023 9:21 AM Help donate

Sandra Selikson
Sandra Selikson
February 28, 2023 9:52 AM

No dumping of contaminated radioactive material into the Hudson River or any NY state waters. What could they be thinking ??? (Answer: profits).

February 18, 2023 10:59 AM

Are you kidding me!?
“In fact, radioactive waste has been released into the Hudson River for decades–as long as Indian Point has existed. It was accepted as long as it was “below regulatory concern” according to standards set by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in the 70’s.”

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