The owners of Indian Point, Holtec International, responding to a huge outcry from environmental groups and the local Westchester community, halted plans to dump more than 1 million gallons of waste water into the Hudson River. (See our previous coverage.)
Calling it a “voluntary pause,” the company’s communication director, Patrick O’Brien stated in a letter to the Decommissioning Oversight Board: “Following conversations with key state stakeholders, who wish to allow for additional public education, we have decided not to go forward with the planned discharge in early May.”
Holtec still claims that dumping the radioactive wastewater is the best solution for disposal because the river will dilute the effects of the toxic radiation. However, the company now says it will “further engage” with state agencies, elected officials, regulators, and local community groups to discuss the science and health issues.
Legislation to prohibit the discharge of any radioactive agents into the water of the state, has already been proposed by New York State Senator Pete Harckham and Assemblywoman Dana Levenberg.(S.5181)
Meanwhile, the nonprofit Riverkeeper, an advocacy group protecting clean water in the Hudson River, continues to oppose discharging the wastewater because it contains tritium, a radioactive element. “Ingestion of tritium is linked to cancer, and children and pregnant women are most vulnerable.” Riverkeeper has called for the wastewater to be stored in tanks on the site until a safer method of disposal could be devised.
What’s Next: Important Public Meetings
In an announcement on April 13, Tom Congdon, Chair of the Indian Point Closure Task Force and Decommissioning Oversight Board stated: “The decision to pause the May 2023 releases from the Indian Point spent fuel pools will allow the State to independently analyze the spent fuel pool water before it is released.”
He added, “Holtec’s pause will also allow time for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which has jurisdiction over these discharges, to answer the important questions Senators Schumer and Gillibrand recently raised and to directly address concerned members of the public and local elected officials at an upcoming meeting of the Decommissioning Oversight Board.”