THE BIG LEAK: 2005 - ONGOING
Find out about THE
EFFECTS OF TRITIUM.
See the EPA
on TRITIUM, the CDC
on STRONTIUM 90, and the NAS
on exposure to ANY RADIATION AT ALL.
to get the latest updates.
Radioactive material found near plant
By Greg Clary
Gannett News Service
Radioactive strontium 90 has been found in trace amounts in a monitoring well
next to Indian Point -- the first time the isotope has been detected in off-site
groundwater since workers discovered a spent fuel pool leak three years ago.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is expected to speak with county officials and
others in an afternoon conference call today with Entergy, so the company could
detail the preliminary test results it found during routine well sampling on the
property, according to NRC documents obtained by The (Westchester) Journal News.
Entergy Nuclear, which owns and operates Indian Point, has been working to stop
spent fuel pool leaks that have sent water containing strontium 90 and tritium
into the Hudson River.
The test results show strontium levels that are less than 1/16th of federal
allowable limits for drinking water, the well tested was not for drinking water.
NRC officials said it was the first time since the leaks showed up in 2005 on
the Indian Point property that strontium 90 had showed up in off-site wells.
According to the documents, Entergy officials believe the sample showed the
traces of strontium 90 because the most recent test are conducted with a more
sensitive analysis, not because of increased levels of radioactivity.
NRC officials said they are fast-tracking a portion of the sample that they took
during the test, to check the results as quickly as possible.
July 12, 2007
Update on Groundwater Investigation
The drilling for Monitoring Well 67, located on the riverfront
near IP2, has been completed. The 350-foot well is being prepared for sampling
(geophysics, flushing etc,)
The drain down of the IP2 transfer canal began this week. A
series of non-destructive tests is planned for the canal over the next 10 weeks.
The weld areas and support plates will be analyzed using ultrasonic testing,
an analysis of potential bleed back from behind the stainless steel liner will
be conducted and samples taken for the presence of microbiological induced corrosion
Hudson River fish samples have been obtained and are being prepared for split
sample analysis by Entergy, DEC and NRC. New York State will analyze fish bones
as well as the flesh for Sr-90.
The long term monitoring plan for the site is being developed.
The final hydrological report from GZA is expected in October.
of Indian Point leak found
THE JOURNAL NEWS
— Indian Point officials say they believe they've tracked the source of a
radioactive strontium leak at the nuclear plant to the defunct Indian Point
1's spent-fuel pool.
have begun using chemical filters to lower radiation levels in the pool while
they try to control the leak.
engineers and hydrologists took that action after an underground sump designed
to collect runoff from emergency water-cooling operations showed strontium
levels 10 times higher than anywhere else on the property.
most recent sampling of the collection sump showed strontium levels of 296
picocuries per liter, about 25 times the allowable levels for drinking water.
Regulatory Commission inspectors and state health officials have said
radiation has not been found in any drinking water sources on or off the site,
though they and company officials acknowledge the irradiated water is likely
making its way to the Hudson River.
and some local residents have not been assured by either the company or the
NRC, expressing continuing and sometimes angry concern that no one is sure
just how much radiation is traveling to nearby water sources.
underground water samples showed strontium levels of about 30 picocuries per
liter at the highest concentrations, within about 150 feet of the Hudson
expect to find higher concentrations (of strontium) as you get closer to the
source, and that's what we've found," said Donald Mayer, Indian Point's
lead official on the leaks of irradiated water that began showing up in
August. "The numbers near the river haven't changed."
said the suspected water source is about 400 feet from the Hudson
River, filling a third of a 30,000-gallon, concrete-lined pool.
irradiated water leaks have been a problem since late summer for Entergy
Nuclear Northeast, the owner of the three nuclear plants in Buchanan.
was the first radioactive isotope to show up after a hairline crack was
discovered in the base of Indian Point 2's spent-fuel pool during excavation.
Company officials are still tracking the source and extent of that leak.
company dug 23 wells to map the underground water plume, and the samples taken
showed strontium as well.
said yesterday that the higher strontium levels in the sump have prompted the
company to plot out 12 more wells to surround the Indian Point 1 spent-fuel
area, at an estimated cost of $2 million.
spokesman Neil Sheehan confirmed yesterday that the strontium levels elsewhere
on the site have remained stable and the agency approved of Entergy's current
plans for additional wells, and the chemical filtering to lower strontium
levels in Indian Point 1's spent-fuel pool.
officials said yesterday that strontium levels inside the spent-fuel pool were
about 200,000 picocuries per liter.
pool has been leaking between 25 and 50 gallons of irradiated water a day
since the early 1990s. Entergy bought the plants from Consolidated Edison in
2001, expecting to contain the leak until the pool could be drained.
that water is captured by curtain drains underneath the pool that direct the
water to a treatment area before it is released to the Hudson River at
radiation levels permitted by the Environmental Protection Agency.
and other company hydrology experts say the believe the curtain-drain system
may not be collecting everything it is supposed to and the new ring of wells
should detect the amount of water escaping.
strontium readings are not higher than one would expect in that area because
the concrete and dirt surrounding the pool act as a filter for the radioactive
officials are working on moving the spent fuel from Indian Point 1 to dry cask
storage being built at the site and scheduled for completion late in 2007.
that move is made, the spent-fuel pool water — which cools the used rods of
uranium and acts as a protective shield — can be drained, treated and
released, officials said.
Entergy facing lawsuit over radiation leak
Riverkeeper is putting Entergy Nuclear Northeast on notice that a lawsuit is
by Rita J. King
Environmental watchdog Riverkeeper celebrated its 40th
announcing its intent to sue Entergy Nuclear Northeast for failing to notify the
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) within 24 hours of discovering a leak of
radiation that may be entering the Hudson River.
The announcement was made yesterday morning (Tuesday) at Riverkeeper's
Tarrytown offices under a sunny sky and a canopy of fresh spring leaves.
Riverkeeper is claiming Entergy Nuclear Northeast, owner and operator of
Indian Point nuclear power plants in Buchanan, violated the Resource
Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), a federal statute which requires
operators of industrial facilities to notify the (EPA) when they discover a
leak of hazardous substances, such as radioactive isotopes, from their facility.
Alex Matthiessen, Riverkeeper's president, said eight months has passed since
the discovery of a radioactive leak from the spent fuel rod pool at Indian Point
2, and there's "no evidence" that the utility has contacted EPA yet.
EPA, he said, would be responsible for implementing a remediation plan that
would include the public.
Croton residents Gary Shaw and Charlie Kane are co-plaintiffs in the pending
litigation. Under the citizen suit provisions of RCRA, Riverkeeper had to notify
the defendant 60 days prior to filing suit.
Shaw, a resident of Croton, combs the shores of the Hudson River with his wife,
an artist, searching for natural materials, such as driftwood.
"I have joined with Riverkeeper and Charlie Kane in this action,"
explained Shaw, "because I am concerned about the on-going release of
elements, such as strontium-90, into the Hudson River that borders Croton. My
wife is an artist whose work these days consists largely of wood sculptures from
Hudson River driftwood. I am concerned that with the collecting and carving she
does, that she will be exposed to elements contaminated by radioactive toxins,
especially when carving, which creates very small.particles."
Kane, a lifetime fisherman on the Hudson River, has joined Riverkeeper due to
his "growing concerns over the impacts of radioactive waste on the fish
population," according to a Riverkeeper press release.
"With great sadness, public perception, public monies, and the work of many
are now jeopardized by the leak of radioactive pollutants from the Indian Point
nuclear plant into the Hudson River," commented Kane. "This great
resource for visitors to the Hudson Valley, commercial and recreational fishing,
boating and swimming, among other activities we enjoy, has been degraded by the
failure of Entergy to perform their due diligence in keeping pollutants of any
kind from entering the Hudson River."
"This case stands at the very heart of Riverkeeper's 40-year mission to
protect the Hudson River and the watershed from polluters who put financial
profit over the health and safety of citizens and our environment," said
"For four decades, we have used the law to force violators to clean up
their act, and as we embark on the next 40 years we will continue to do so. The
future of the Hudson River and the Hudson Valley depends on it."
Matthiessen admitted Riverkeeper can't be sure that the radioactive leak exceeds
federally mandated standards for allowable discharge into the Hudson River, but
emphasizes that part of the reason for the lawsuit is the mystery surrounding
the leaks and Entergy's "half-hearted" attempt to uncover the facts
surrounding a leak discovered on August 26, 2005 during an excavation project.
A meeting held at Crystal Bay in Peekskill two weeks ago drew a
standing-room-only crowd as residents questioned the veracity of the Nuclear
Regulatory Agency (NRC) and Entergy's repeat claim that no threat to public
health and safety exists despite an admission that the utility and regulatory
agency are both in the dark about the extent, number and volume of actual and
possible leaks at Indian Point.
Indian Point spokesman Jim Steets brushed off the press conference as
"I was expecting more out of it," Steets remarked.
Steets claimed Entergy Nuclear Northeast notified NRC and the Department of
Environmental Protection (DEP) immediately upon discovering the leak. He
insisted it was not mandatory that Entergy contact EPA.
"DEC issues permits for discharges into and use of the river," he
said. "It seems that this is something that Riverkeeper would want-local
control over our destiny."
Riverkeeper is also incensed that it took NRC and Entergy more than 20 days
to notify elected officials and the public of the leak, which contains levels of
tritium, strontium-90, and cesium 137 - among other dangerous radioactive
isotopes. Entergy received confirmation of the presence of cesium-137 and
strontium-90 in the leaking water on October 24, 2005.
"The law is very clear regarding the release of hazardous substances and
the notification process - a polluter must notify the EPA within 24 hours of
discovery," noted Phillip Musegaas, policy analyst at Riverkeeper. While
Entergy may have broken public trust and confidence a long time ago, here
they've broken the law. We are fully prepared to seek enforcement of the
regulation by the courts, to make sure the leak is stopped and the environmental
On March 21, the NRC and Entergy announced strontium-90 had been discovered
in wells near the Hudson River at levels three times higher than EPA allowable
levels. Entergy and the NRC have confirmed on repeated occasions that a large
plume of contaminated groundwater coming from the IP2 spent fuel pool is
leaching toxic radioactive isotopes into the Hudson River. At the Crystal Bay
meeting, NRC and Entergy officials stressed the idea that the river dilutes the
concentration of radiation-if the leak makes it that far.
"Our local communities need to be assured that the corporation that owns
and operates Indian Point is doing everything possible to stop and clean up this
radioactive plume," added Lisa Rainwater, Indian Point campaign director.
"We also need to know that Entergy is following the letter of the law -
anything less suggests they are failing to be good, responsible, corporate
neighbors to the local community. In failing to follow federal notification
regulations, they're failing the communities that use the Hudson River to
recreate and that rely on clean water for their families."
Students at the Pace Environmental Litigation Clinic will be working on the case
as part of an ongoing partnership with Riverkeeper.
Riverkeeper plans possible suit against
Entergy over radioactive leaks
The environmental group Riverkeeper says it plans to sue Entergy Nuclear
Northeast for allegedly violating the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act
(RCRA) over radioactive leaks disclosed last fall.
Riverkeeper President Alex Matthiessen says they are not seeking monetary
damages, or a shutdown of Indian Point, with this suit, although closing the
reactors is an ultimate goal. What they want here is for the Environmental
Protection Agency to get involved and to "oversee, with the public's
involvement, a cleanup and remediation of the site".
Karl Coplan, with the Pace University Law School Environmental Litigation
Clinic, says with this suit, RCRA gives them very clear parameters.
"Much clearer. It has a specific citizen suit, unlike the provisions we
under before, and a very clear requirement that if you have a leak in an
underground tank, you have to report it to the EPA, and if you don't you are
subject to a citizen suit.
In fact, two private citizens have signed on to the suit: Gary Shaw, of Croton,
an artist who looks for driftwood along the banks of the Hudson, and Charles
Kane, a fisherman concerned about the possible impact of radioactive
tritium and strontium 90 on fish.
Entergy Spokesman James Steets disputes contentions that they did not make
proper notification of the leaks. "Entergy made the appropriate and
regulatory required notification to both the NRC, which has jurisdiction
over Indian Point, on the federal side, and on the local side, the New York
Steets says Entergy is also carrying out a mitigation effort, and that they, and
even some Westchester County officials, believe there is no threat to public
Matthiessen says from their perspective, they do not know if there is a
threat to safety now, or will be in the future. It is prudent, he argues, to
err on the side of caution.
Copyright © 2006 Mid-Hudson News Network, a division of
Riverkeeper to sue over leak at Indian Point
By GREG CLARY
THE JOURNAL NEWS
(Original Publication: April 19, 2006)
Hudson River's 'keeper'
Riverkeeper is a nonprofit organization founded in 1966. It's dedicated to
protecting the ecology of the Hudson River and the watershed area that
provides drinking water to New York City and parts of the northern suburbs.
The crux of Riverkeeper's lawsuit against Indian Point is whether leaking
strontium 90 at the nuclear power station is hazardous waste as defined by
the Environmental Protection Agency - or radioactive waste under the control
of another federal agency.
Riverkeeper says the EPA should have been notified in August, when the
radiated water was discovered at the Buchanan site.
"We're not talking about somebody's septic system," said Karl Coplan,
director of the Pace Environmental Law Clinic, which will pursue the case
for Riverkeeper. "We're talking about nuclear waste."
Indian Point officials say they met their obligation by quickly reporting the
leak to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which oversees the plants. A federal
judge in White Plains may get a chance to sort out the answers.
Riverkeeper filed papers yesterday that the organization's officials vow will
grow into a full-fledged lawsuit after allowing the plant's owner, Entergy, the
required 60 days to either solve the problem by officially notifying the EPA or
opt to fight the challenge in court.
The environmental group, celebrating its 40th anniversary of watching over
the Hudson River, isn't seeking financial damages but wants the EPA involved in
the leak probe and the public involved more in potential plans for cleaning up
Indian Point spokesman Jim Steets said the company is pushing ahead with the
investigation into the cause of the leak, and has met and will continue to meet
its federal, state and public responsibilities.
"We're acting on very little information because they haven't filed a
lawsuit yet," Steets said of Riverkeeper. "They appear to be referring
regulations for hazardous materials, not radioactive materials. It simply
boils down to the fact that (the EPA) doesn't have jurisdiction."
EPA spokeswoman Bonnie Bellow said agency officials had not seen a copy of
Riverkeeper's intention to sue.
"It would be premature for us to comment," Bellow said. "The
regulatory agency is the Nuclear Regulatory Commission."
Bellow said that "in certain circumstances" the agency had the
responsibility to deal with radioactive material.
Philip Musegaas, Riverkeeper's policy analyst for Indian Point, said the EPA
was the proper agency to be involved in the groundwater contamination
because the leak comes from a holding tank, and the agency's list of
possible contaminants includes radioactive isotopes like strontium 90.
The source of the leak of strontium - and the less dangerous tritium - has not
been determined, and Entergy drilled 23 monitoring wells on the property to
gauge the extent of the leak. The NRC and state health and environmental
officials have taken split samples from those wells in a months-long effort
to measure the extent of the contamination.
Lisa Rainwater Van Suntum, who is leading Riverkeeper's campaign to close
the nuclear plants, estimated the company makes $2 million a day from its
Indian Point operation and can afford to perform a "prompt and timely
Steets emphatically denied the $2 million figure. He declined to give a more
accurate accounting but said the company wasn't pinching pennies on the leak.
"We have the money to do what's appropriate at Indian Point, and we're
doing it," Steets said. "We meet or surpass all the regulations. We're
not sparing any expense in dealing with this groundwater issue."
Coplan said he didn't expect to the case to make it to court until late this
year or next.
Riverkeeper Files Suit Against Local Power
Apr 18, 2006
Tony Aiello Reporting
(CBS) WHITE PLAINS The company that owns the Indian Point nuclear power plant is
laughing off a lawsuit filed by the environmental group Riverkeeper.
"Riverkeeper tries all kinds of things," said Entergy spokesman Jim
"They often are irrelevant to what actually is going on at Indian
Riverkeeper claims Entergy violated federal law by failing to notify the
Environmental Protection Agency of a radioactive water leak discovered in
The water is leaking from a pool where spent fuel rods are stored. Testing
shows the water contains small amounts of strontium-90 and tritium. Experts
assume the water is following the path of least resistance through the ground
and ending up in the Hudson River.
"What we're seeking is just follow the process," said Riverkeeper
lawyer Karl Coplan. "They've got to notify the EPA, get EPA involved, and
is supposed to step in and oversee the cleanup."
Entergy called the lawsuit "frivolous."
"We've provided information to the appropriate state and federal
said Steets, the Entergy spokesman. Steets said Entergy contacted the
Nuclear Regulatory Commission and was not required to notify the EPA.
A few miles downriver from the power plant, people fishing in the Hudson
knew about the leak, but didn't seem too concerned.
Tommy Favreau of Yonkers said "I have an old friend who fishes here named
Wally. He's 80-years old, he's not glowing in the dark yet and he eats fish
out here every day, and the crabs."
Jay Lieberman of Yonkers made the same point, but added: "The river should
be getting better, not worse, and I think they should look very carefully at
the problems they're having up at the plant up there."
(© MMVI, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.)
Riverkeeper threatens lawsuit to get EPA
involved in Indian Point
April 18, 2006, 4:50 PM EDT
TARRYTOWN, N.Y. -- Environmentalists threatened Tuesday to go to federal
court to get the Environmental Protection Agency involved in the investigation
and cleanup of radioactive leaks at the Indian Point nuclear power plants.
Officials at Riverkeeper claimed at a news conference that Entergy Nuclear
Northeast, owner of the plants, did not notify the EPA of leaks discovered
in groundwater under Indian Point, which is in Buchanan on the Hudson River,
35 miles north of midtown Manhattan.
By failing to inform EPA as required, the environmentalists said, Entergy
avoided "the involvement of EPA in the leak investigation and remediation
The leak, first detected in August near a spent-fuel pool, has allowed
radioactive isotopes including strontium-90 and tritium escape into the
groundwater and probably into the river, officials at Entergy and the
Nuclear Regulatory Commission have said. In spots, levels of radioactive
material have far exceeded the amount permitted in drinking water, though
there are no drinking water sources nearby.
In large amounts, strontium and tritium can cause cancer.
The threatened lawsuit _ Riverkeeper and the two named plaintiffs have to
give 60 days' notice before filing _ "goes to our core mission of
the Hudson River," said Philip Musegaas, a Riverkeeper policy analyst. He
said the environmentalists could be dissuaded from suing "if Entergy were
notify the EPA formally and the EPA got involved and initiated its own
investigation," he said.
Jim Steets, an Entergy spokesman, said the company "made the appropriate
and required notifications to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the New York
State Department of Environmental Conservation, which has jurisdiction over
Indian Point." The DEC acts as an arm of the EPA in such cases, he said.
Musegaas agreed that EPA sometimes delegates jurisdiction to the DEC but
said it has not done so in cases of underground storage of radioactive
materials. He said it was the EPA that got involved in the cleanup of
contamination at the Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island.
EPA spokeswoman Bonnie Bellow said Tuesday the agency would have no comment
because it had not seen Riverkeeper's notice of intent to sue.
Copyright 2006 Newsday Inc.
Indian Point Threatened With Lawsuit Over
NEW YORK, NY April 18, 2006 -Environmentalists are threatening to sue to get the
EPA to investigate and clean up radioactive leaks at the Indian Point
nuclear power plant. The group Riverkeeper says that Indian Point owner
Entergy Nuclear Northeast, did not notify the EPA of leaks discovered in
groundwater detected in august at the plant on the Hudson River.
REPORTER: Director of Riverkeeper's Indian Point Campaign, Lisa Rainwater,
says her organization has serious concerns.
RAINWATER: The fact of the matter is there is so little information known at
this point regarding where the leak is coming from, how much has leaked, how
to fix the leak, that it's disingenuous, at best, to be telling the public we
should not be concerned.
REPORTER: Entergy spokesman Jim Steets said the company "made the
appropriate and required notifications to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission
and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, which has
jurisdiction over Indian Point."
The EPA said it would not comment without seeing the suit but confirms that
the DEC does have jurisdiction in this case.
Enviromental groups sue over leak at Indian
By GREG CLARY
THE JOURNAL NEWS
(Original publication: April 18, 2006)
TARRYTOWN - Two environmental groups began a lawsuit today against Indian Point,
alleging that the nuclear plant violated federal law by not
notifying the Environmental Protection Agency when a radioactive water leak was
found in August.
Riverkeeper and the Pace Environmental Litigation Clinic say Indian Point's
failure to involve the EPA within 24 hours of the leak has kept the public out
of the follow-up investigation into the cause of leaking strontium 90 and
tritium, and any possible cleanup.
"We're not talking about somebody's septic system," said Karl Coplan,
the director of the Pace organization. "We're talking about nuclear
The actual lawsuit can't be filed for 60 days, a clock that began with the
filing of legal papers today and the groups say they'd drop the case if Entergy
notifies the EPA officially so the federal agency can look into the leak.
Indian Point officials said they notified the Nuclear Regulatory Commission as
well as state and local officials as soon as possible.
"We made all the appropriate and required notifications," said Jim
Steets, an Indian Point spokesman. "And as far as the public goes, we have
shared as much information as possible, as quickly as we could."
The source of the leak of strontium and tritium has not yet been determined, and
Entergy drilled 23 monitoring wells on the property to determine the extent of
the leak. The NRC and state health and environmental officials have taken split
samples from those wells.
Officials try pinpointing Indian Point leak
By GREG CLARY
THE JOURNAL NEWS
(Original Publication: March 27, 2006)
BUCHANAN - The likeliest source of the radiation leak at Indian Point is a
huge holding tank filled with water that cools and shields used plutonium
fuel rods hot enough to catch fire if the pool were drained - and dangerous
enough to kill anyone who comes in contact with them.
"If you were exposed in close proximity, unshielded, it would be
Neil Sheehan, the spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said of
the processed uranium pellets used to help generate thousands of megawatts
of electricity at Indian Point. "We're talking here about high-level,
Concerns about the leak have grown, especially since strontium 90, a
byproduct of uranium and plutonium, was found in monitoring wells near the
Hudson River. At elevated levels in drinking water, the isotope increases
the risk of cancer.
NRC officials say it is the only case of strontium 90 leaking at any of the
nation's 103 working nuclear plants, but that it has not reached drinking
water sources near Indian Point.
Tritium and nickel 63 also have been detected, but not at levels that alarm
To keep workers and the public safe, Indian Point maintains three spent fuel
pools, using 90-degree water as both a shield and a cooling mechanism for
its nuclear fuel rods.
The 30-foot-by-30-foot pool that company officials are looking at sits next
to Indian Point 2, a reactor that powered up about the time President Nixon
resigned, and a few months before Indian Point 1 shut down in October 1974.
Despite sitting in a half-inch- thick stainless-steel liner surrounded by
concrete up to 6 feet thick, water from the 400,000-gallon pool began
seeping through a hairline crack at the base of the structure in August. The
breach has led to a special inspection by the commission, the drilling of 23
new testing wells, and public concerns about safety.
"You don't want to lose any water in the pool," said Jim Steets, the
spokesman for Entergy Nuclear Northeast, the company that owns the two
working nuclear reactors at Indian Point. "But a lot of the things we deal
with every day are dangerous. What's important is knowing how to deal with
NRC scientists have said repeatedly that the leak does not constitute a
threat to public health. Still, the perception of a radioactive leak of any
kind has some residents of the Lower Hudson Valley concerned.
"There's got to be a defect in the steel wall of some kind," said
resident Jim Siermarco, who worked with radioactive isotopes early in his
career at IBM and monitors Indian Point as a volunteer for the
village."There's a pinhole or a crack somewhere. If it's down where the
rods are, it's going to take time to fix it."
Entergy officials say that's a strategy they're pursuing, after having
little success inspecting the two-thirds of the 40-foot-deep pool accessible
The remaining portion will require special underwater cameras and robotics
to go where the fuel assemblies sit in racks in bundles of about 200 fuel
rods, each about 12 feet high.
Company officials say they believe they have found a vendor qualified to
inspect that area and apply special epoxy to any flaws that turn up. Entergy
has encapsulated the cracks on the exterior walls, and now says that leakage
But with strontium 90, tritium and nickel 63 showing up in numbers not seen
on the site before, experts say they believe there is still radiated water
leaking from somewhere.
One possibility is that the stainless-steel liner is intact, but that the
water from an earlier leak in the liner - since patched - has finally found
its way through the more porous concrete. The escaped water could date back
to when Consolidated Edison ran the plant in the 1990s.
So far, tests to determine whether the leak started more than a decade ago
have been inconclusive, but are continuing.
The water has traveled to a monitoring well within 50 yards of the Hudson
River, bringing the isotopes with it. The water is still contained on the
site, and has not reached drinking water sources, the NRC said.
One longtime industry watchdog said Entergy's efforts to find the source of
the leak and determine the extent of contamination show that Indian Point
officials see the economic advantage of running a safe plant.
"The company could have tried to explain away a lot of what they've found
with some hand-waving," said David Lochbaum, a nuclear safety engineer with
the Union of Concerned Scientists, an independent nonprofit alliance of
citizens and scientists. "They seem to be going after a comprehensive set
Though there has been a lot of data and scientific analysis of the leak
since September, federal and company officials agree that the list of
questions continues to grow, and will require methodical research to finish.
"There are several remediation strategies that we can follow," said
Entergy's spokesman. "We haven't reached the point where we know what is
best to do. If this thing were on the edge of a public safety issue, we
would be taking mitigation measures sooner. Some of this just takes time. We
don't want to make too quick a decision out of reaction to the public
interest in this."
Steets said the company also is looking closely at the fuel pool of the
defunct Indian Point 1.
That pool leaks 25 gallons of radiated water a day into a specially built
set of curtain drains. The drains capture water and allow it to be measured
for radioactivity before it is released in accordance with the plant's
During heavy rainstorms, however, the capacity of that system and its drains
and holding tank are pushed to their limits, Steets said.
The future appears to be dry cask storage. Entergy officials are creating a
site for storing its nuclear waste in containers that seal the expended fuel
pellets and cool them with helium or inert gases instead of water.
Eventually, the hope is to move them to a safe, national storage site.
The fuel pools would still be necessary to allow for a long-term cool-down
period - probably five years - but wouldn't be the only storage method on
"Most plants are running into a space crunch," said the NRC's Sheehan.
some point you have to look at alternatives to store the waste."
Point leak of radioactive element spreads
Publication: March 22, 2006)
— Radioactive strontium 90 has spread to a third well at Indian Point and has
been found at levels three times the amount allowed in drinking water — within
150 feet of the Hudson River.
for Entergy Nuclear Northeast, which owns Indian Point, released the test
results late yesterday, noting a strong likelihood that the radioactive isotope
is reaching the Hudson River.
Nuclear Regulatory Commission confirmed the findings, adding that Indian Point
is the only nuclear power plant in the nation that is leaking strontium 90. The
agency oversees 103 plants in the United States.
these are different findings than we've seen, but they're not near any drinking
water supplies," said Jim Steets, a spokesman for Entergy Nuclear
Northeast. "It still remains that there's no public health threat
Sheehan, a spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, confirmed the
numbers late yesterday as well as the lack of a threat to public health at the
leak is coming from a spent-fuel pool about 300 feet from the river, company
engineers have said. The 400,000-gallon pool uses water to cool spent fuel rods
waiting for disposal.
also identified in the samples from Feb. 27 elevated levels of tritium and
nickel 63, both of which emit low levels of radiation, company officials said.
Commission tests showed similar results.
Lochbaum, a nuclear safety engineer with the Union of Concerned Scientists, said
yesterday that the concentrations of strontium raise health concerns despite
still being contained to the nuclear plant's grounds and not showing up in any
drinking water wells.
clue to the health concerns is in the (Environmental Protection Agency's)
limits," Lochbaum said. "For tritium, it's 20,000 picocuries per liter
of water, versus strontium, which is only 8 picocuries per liter."
latest test results show that well No. 37, the testing area closest to the
Hudson River on a straight line west from the spent-fuel pool, showed strontium
levels ranging as high 26.4 picocuries per liter of water. Amounts of strontium
at other wells were less than 2 picocuries per liter.
said once strontium 90 levels get above allowable drinking water levels, the
risk for cancer and other health problems rises.
three times the amount allowed for drinking water, you're not in danger of
cancer, but you're at higher risk," Lochbaum said. "It will cause
different damage to different people. Tritium doesn't reside in the body that
long, so it does less damage. Strontium tends to get absorbed in the bones and
teeth and resides in the body for a very long time."
said both isotopes are unstable and throw off radiation trying to achieve
stability, destroying nearby cells.
nuclear safety engineer said strontium does much more serious damage to living
tissue. For comparison purposes, tritium would hit like a pingpong ball,
strontium like a bowling ball.
atomic weights back that up. Tritium's is 3, while strontium 90 is called that
because its atomic weight is 90. Plutonium's atomic weight ranges as high as
240. Atomic weight is defined as the average weight of an atom of an element —
the total mass of protons and neutrons in an atom.
said the volume of water of the Hudson River diminishes the impact on water in
the area because it dilutes whatever comes into it. He did acknowledge that
there is potential for the strontium to settle into the river's bottom, which
would harm the environment.
the environmental organization that works to protect the health of the Hudson
River, said the unmonitored releases were unacceptable, regardless of the
river's ability to clean itself.
the NRC, Entergy and the state have grossly underestimated the gravity of the
radioactive contamination at Indian Point," said Lisa Rainwater van Suntum,
Riverkeeper's Indian Point campaign director. "If this were a safely
operating nuclear facility, it wouldn't be polluting the Hudson River and our
environment with one of the most deadly toxins on Earth. Isn't it time the NRC
and Entergy stop trying to defend this leaky, decaying plant?"
county officials within the plants' shadow also expressed their concerns.
Tolchin, chief adviser to Westchester County Executive Andrew Spano, said the
daily releases of information has the public on a bit of a roller-coaster ride.
there is (strontium 90), then there isn't, then there is," Tolchin said.
"Who do you believe? What's wrong with this picture? Who's watching the
County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef was equally upset.
very disturbing," Vanderhoef said yesterday after learning the new results.
"I'm not a scientist, but it seems that it's been leaking for a while. What
else are we going to find? This stuff is complicated enough that you have to be
able to understand the science of it all, but this is not good news."
More Contaminants Discovered in Water at
Indian Point Plant
By MATTHEW L. WALD
Published: March 22, 2006
WASHINGTON, March 21 - Two more radioactive contaminants have shown up in the
groundwater under the Indian Point nuclear reactor complex in
Westchester County, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said on Tuesday. But
the agency and the plant owner, Entergy Nuclear Northeast, said they did not
pose a hazard.
For the last few months, plant technicians have been trying to find the flaw
that is allowing water with tritium in it to seep out of the spent fuel pool
for the Indian Point 2 reactor, but one of the radioactive materials
discovered on Tuesday, nickel-63, is more likely to have come from the pool
at Indian Point 1, a plant official said. Unit 1's pool has been leaking for
years, and Entergy has a pumping system in place to return the water to the
pool. "We're capturing most of it, but we don't know for sure we're getting
all of it," said Jim Steets, a plant spokesman.
The other material announced on Tuesday is strontium, in concentrations
about three times above the drinking water standard, in a sample taken from
a well inside a building at Indian Point.
But Diane Screnci, a spokeswoman for the commission, said, "It's not a
drinking water source, and it doesn't lead to a drinking water source." The
contaminated water is presumed to go into the Hudson River, which plant
officials say dilutes the contaminants to extremely small levels and is not
used for drinking.
Indian Point 1 used fuel clad in stainless steel, an alloy that includes
nickel. In the reactor, the nickel can become radioactive. While the reactor
has not run in 30 years, the half-life of nickel-63, the period in which it
loses half its radioactivity, is 96 years.
High levels of strontium-90 found in Indian
By JIM FITZGERALD
Associated Press Writer
March 21, 2006, 7:44 PM EST
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- High levels of radioactive strontium-90 - nearly three
times the amount permitted in drinking water - were found in groundwater
near the Hudson River beneath the Indian Point nuclear power plants, the
plants' owner said Tuesday.
The groundwater does not reach any drinking supplies, and although the
strontium is believed to have reached the Hudson it would be safely diluted
in the river, said Jim Steets, spokesman for plant owner Entergy Nuclear
The strontium - which can cause cancer in high doses - was found in a well
dug as part of an ongoing search for the source of a leak of radioactive
water at Indian Point, which is in Buchanan, 35 miles north of midtown
Manhattan. Entergy's finding was matched by tests conducted by the Nuclear
Regulatory Commission on the same sample, Steets said. It was the first
confirmed finding of the isotope at levels well above the normal background
The same sample also yielded tritium, another potential carcinogen, at
levels well above the drinking water standard. High levels of tritium had
been found earlier in another well, and the NRC announced Monday that it
would investigate accidental releases of tritium at Indian Point and other
NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan said Tuesday that the commission still believes
that radioactivity in the water - given that it is not drinking water - is
well below the level that would "pose a risk to public health and
The sample from the well also found higher-than-normal levels of a third
isotope, nickel-63, but those levels were under the drinking water standard,
The test well, inside a turbine building, is among nine recently dug in an
attempt to pinpoint the leak that is contaminating the groundwater.
Contaminated water first was found in August on the outside of a spent-fuel
pool for the Indian Point 2 reactor, but no leak has been found on the
inside of the pool.
The new findings add to the uncertainty, Steets said.
"When we first got these findings we were scratching our heads because it
does raise questions about what the source (of the leak) really is," Steets
For example, he said, the presence of nickel might point to the spent-fuel
pool for Indian Point 1 rather than Indian Point 2 because those fuel
assemblies had more steel and nickel-63 is formed in connection with steel.
"It's still all speculation," he added. "This is just one data
point in a
Entergy said water samples were taken at four depths in the well. Strontium
levels, in picocuries per liter, were 2.4, 3.86, 18.2, and 22.7. The
drinking water limit is 8.
Tritium, which becomes dangerous only at much higher concentrations than
strontium, was found at 12,800, 14,700, 28,000 and 13,300 picocuries per
liter. The drinking water limit is 20,000.
Copyright 2006 Newsday Inc.
More Strontium-90 found at Indian Point
By GREG CLARY
THE JOURNAL NEWS
(Original Publication: March 21, 2006)
BUCHANAN - Radioactive strontium-90 has spread to other wells at Indian
Point and the highest levels found so far - nearly three times the amount
allowed for drinking water - have been found within 150 feet of the Hudson
Entergy Nuclear Northeast, the owner of Indian Point, released the latest
numbers this afternoon, noting that strontium-90 has now been found in three
wells near Indian Point 2's spent fuel pool, which began leaking radiated
water in August.
Jim Steets, a spokesman for the company, said the latest results were
confirmed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which performed similar
tests for strontium-90 on the same sample Indian Point used.
"Clearly these are different findings than we've seen, but they're not near
any drinking water supplies," Steets said. "It still remains that
public health threat here."
NRC officials confirmed that late today.
Nuke leaks taint Hudson
3-17-06 Bedford Record Review
By ABBY LUBY
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission suspects that an uncontrolled release of
tritium is going into the Hudson River. The leak was found near the
discharge canal at the Indian Point nuclear power plant, situated on the
east bank of the river. Also last week, a monitoring well was leaking small
amounts of strontium 90, considered a more dangerous radioactive isotope,
but the amount leaked was not enough to pose a threat to public health, said
NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan said that the tritium leak indicates a migration
under the discharge canal and into the river. "The conjecture is that it's
possible it [tritium] would be flowing to the river, and regardless of the
amount involved, it's considered an uncontrolled release."
According to an NRC report, water was sampled in mid-February from the same well
that had the highest concentration of tritium levels at 600,000
picocuries per liter of water, 30 times the Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA) drinking water limit of 20,000 picocuries per liter. That sample also
showed a small amount of strontium 90, measured to be about 3 picocuries per
liter. The EPA drinking water limit for strontium 90 is 8 picocuries per
liter. At high levels, strontium 90 and tritium are cancer-causing agents.
Officials first learned about the leaks in a local news publication.
Westchester County Executive Andrew Spano called a special meeting last week
with the NRC and plant owner Entergy on whether the public is being informed
about possible health threats from the plant in a timely fashion. At the
meeting were Congresswomen Nita Lowey (D-18) and Sue Kelly (R-19), who
called for an independent safety assessment at the plants.
"I worked with Nita Lowey, Eliot Engel [D-17], and Maurice Hinchey [D-22],
to do this report," said Mrs. Kelly this week. "I went into the plant
January, and I got the NRC to consider what was happening. In February I
formally requested the NRC to conduct this assessment."
Mrs. Kelly said that it was important to get independent assessors in the
plant. "The NRC is there all the time, 24/7, and those people see the same
things," she said. "They may not see what a pair of fresh eyes would
According to a press release from Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, at her
request, NRC chairman Nils Diaz intends to do a safety review of the plant
sometime in 2007. The review will look at the overall operation, design,
maintenance, and safety of the plant.
"There have been enough independent studies to close that plant
Assemblyman Richard Brodsky (D-Greenburgh), who is running for state
attorney general. "There are no independent studies. Most of the
are from these large think tanks and are somehow related to the nuclear
Tritium and strontium are two particularly dangerous substances, said Mr.
Brodsky. "Both are absorbed by the human body," he said. "You
for two worse kinds of radioactive material. The problem here is that every
time you have one of these leaks, they minimize it and they tell you it will
never happen again."
Since August, officials at the Indian Point nuclear power plant have been
trying to find the source of leaking tritium near the spent-fuel pool at
Indian Point 2. Several more wells were dug to determine how much
radioactive water was underground. According to Mr. Sheehan, Entergy has dug 19
wells, and he expects them to dig an additional 14.
In early March, the environmental watchdog group Riverkeeper, which monitors
the Hudson River, area reservoirs, and aquifers, sought more information
about the leaks. Under New York State's Freedom of Information Law,
documents obtained by Riverkeeper indicated that both the State Department
of Health (DOH) and the State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC)
knew of the strontium and tritium leaks since December.
According to an e-mail from DEC spokesperson Gabrielle DeMarco, the DEC
"became involved in this matter at the request of the counties and will
continue to provide them and other stakeholders with accurate information
throughout the process."
Ms. DeMarco said that the "DEC holds no regulatory authority in this matter
. and under the Federal Atomic Energy Act monitoring of radioactive
discharges from reactors is handled by the federal Nuclear Regulatory
There are no discharge limits for radioactive materials in Indian Point's
State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (SPDES) permit with the DEC,
explained Ms. DeMarco in her e-mail.
According to Mr. Sheehan, strontium 90 released in liquid form into the
Hudson River in 2004 was a total of 17.4 millicuries. "The total dosage
resulting from that would have been .003 millirems to the whole body and .01
millirems to any organ for any member of the public who was in the river for
the entire year," said Mr. Sheehan. "In other words, the amounts
were a fraction of the allowable limits."
Dan Hirsch of the Committee to Bridge the Gap, a group that studies the
effects of radiation, said that the EPA and the NRC have different limits
for water. "The EPA limits are stricter and are the ones that legally
apply," he said. "The NRC's dosage numbers are much higher than the
EPA safe drinking water levels, and it sounds like they [the NRC] are giving out
theoretical calculated dose and trying to say that the dose is trivial."
Exposure to drinking water is a major concern, according to Riverkeeper
policy analyst Phillip Musegaas, who said they are looking at the
possibility of several radioactive isotopes, including tritium, cobalt, and
cesium, getting into the aquifer or the sediment under the river.
Detecting the radioactive isotopes in the water that travels through
hairline fractures in the dense bedrock under the Indian Point plant is
complicated, said Dr. Martin Stute, a specialist in isotope hydrology at
Barnard College and the Lamont Doherty Research Lab. "In fractured rock you
really don't know if the entire flow of radiated water is through one
fracture or if it is connected to other fractures," he said. "It's
to track anything with bedrock fractures."
The fractured bedrock, which is believed to be caused from construction
blasting decades ago under the plant, is also impacted by being over part of
the Ramapo Fault - an earthquake system covering southeast New York, said
Dr. Stute. "In areas subject to earthquakes over long periods of time you
can assume the rocks are more fractured," he said.
Dr. Stute, whose research involves measuring tritium and strontium 90 with
the element helium 3, said it's also difficult to determine the size of
"In wide fractures the water is rushing rapidly and could move for miles in
a year or so, and contaminants can spread very rapidly," he said.
important to test the drinking water wells in the area for contaminants."
Mr. Sheehan said that an "off-site characterization program" was
after tritium was found in the wells in August and that test groundwater
wells have been drilled in and around Buchanan, where the plant is located.
"We do license Indian Point, and we are concerned with off-site
contamination," he said. "There's been no indication to date of any
Mr. Sheehan said that off-site locations that have been sampled for
contamination from Indian Point include the Algonquin site, the Gypsum
Plant, and the Trap Rock Quarry, all of which are within a few miles of
Indian Point. "Thus far, all the samples taken indicate no detectable
radioactive contamination," he said.
To date, the NRC has had no reason to impose penalties on plant owner
Entergy because according to Mr. Sheehan there haven't been any violations.
"If there was a violation as far as exceeding the allowable limits, it's
certainly something we would look at," he said. "But there are no set
penalties. We look at each event on a case-by-case basis."
Should the plant remain open while groundwater testing and safety studies
are being done?
"The plant needs to be operating," said Mrs. Kelly, "If they shut
they don't know how the thing is operating. Also we need the electricity."
"Mrs. Kelly is misinforming the public," said Mr. Brodsky. "We
than sufficient power without the plant. Running Indian Point is more
expensive, and it's dangerous. The plant should be permanently shut down."
The NRC will be holding a public meeting addressing the recent leaks on
Tuesday, March 28, at 6:30 at the Crystal Bay restaurant in Peekskill.
March 6, 2006
waste moves official to call meeting
PLAINS — Local and federal elected officials hope a meeting today about Indian
Point will provide answers about the seriousness of radioactive isotopes that
have been found underground at the nuclear reactor site in Buchanan.
wants everybody in the same room," said Susan Tolchin, Westchester County
Executive Andrew Spano's chief adviser. "These are the decision makers.
They need to know what's going on, to get the right information from the people
who have it."
asked for representatives to come from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the
state departments of Health and Environmental Conservation, and Entergy Nuclear
Northeast, which owns Indian Point, to discuss the presence of tritium near the
Hudson River and strontium-90 in one monitoring well onsite.
and the Commission have repeatedly stated there was no danger to the public, and
reiterated that after strontium-90 was found in small amounts.
said she expected staff members from many of the area's congressional
representatives to attend, as well as Rockland County Executive C. Scott
was succinct in his comments about the gathering.
be attending the meeting to ask everybody a lot of questions," he said.
Rep. Eliot Engel, D-Bronx, wrote a letter Friday asking the federal
Environmental Protection Agency to conduct "an immediate investigation into
the serious environmental problems" caused by the plants' operation, citing
the strontium-90 and tritium.
discoveries are only the latest in a list of environmental assaults on the
region by the Indian Point Power Plant," Engel wrote to the EPA. "The
safety of our constituents warrants an immediate and comprehensive investigation
by the Environmental Protection Agency."
spokeswoman said the letter had been circulated to other congressional
representatives for the area, to see if they wanted to join in the request.
Reps. Nita Lowey, D-Harrison, and Maurice Hinchey, D-Hurley, have joined the
spokesman Dale Kemery said the agency had not seen the letter and couldn't
comment until officials there had reviewed it.
is sending Donald Mayer, who is overseeing the search for a leak in a
400,000-gallon spent fuel pool and leading the cleanup of any radiated water at
the site, company spokesman Jim Steets said.
week ago, the company told a working group of public and emergency officials in
a biweekly meeting tritium had shown up within 150 feet of the Hudson and was
likely seeping into the river.
health and environmental officials were aware of the presence of strontium-90 as
early as December, according to documents obtained by the environmental group
Riverkeeper, which requested them under the state's Freedom of Information law.
spokeswoman for the state Department of Health said the agency's director of
environmental radiation protection would attend today's meeting. DEC officials
will attend as well, according to an agency spokeswoman.
spokesman Neil Sheehan said his agency would send a branch chief from the
division of reactor safety and the agency would provide "whatever
information we can regarding our sample results and inspection efforts."
LETTER TO THE NEW YORK TIMES WESTCHESTER
Matthew Wald's article regarding the ongoing leak of radioactive
water from the Indian Point nuclear plant (March 5) omits several facts and
issues that are relevant. The article mentions that some radioactive
contaminants can be stripped from water, but that tritium cannot because it is
"incorporated into the water molecule." Since our bodies are
largely made up of salt water, any ingestion of the element will be incorporated
in our bodies. The EPA says that "tritium is carcinogenic" and
that "especially sensitive to the effects of tritium are rapidly growing
cells such as fetal tissue, genetic materials and blood forming organs."
The article barely refers to the Strontium-90 leakage that has also been found
The Center for Disease Control says, "Once in the body, Sr-90 acts like
calcium and is readily incorporated into bones and teeth, where it can cause
cancers of the bone, bone marrow, and soft tissues around the bone."
The article refers to the amounts found as small, but ignores that the National
Academy of Sciences has said that "even low doses of ionizing radiation are
likely to pose some risk of adverse health effects" and that "such
radiation can cause DNA damage that could eventually lead to cancers."
Importantly, the article neglects to inform the public that Entergy has
unsuccessfully searched for the source of the leak or leaks for months without
finding that source. This suggests that we may have a long-term problem
with no apparent solution. All these issues should be considered when
20-year license extensions are sought for these plants.
Croton on Hudson, NY
THE JOURNAL NEWS
(Original publication: March 2, 2006)
Two state regulatory agencies had information late last year that strontium
90 was showing up in a monitoring well at the Indian Point nuclear plant —
three months before they released news of the isotope's presence to the public
A Dec. 5 e-mail between officials at the Department of Health and the
Department of Environmental Conservation reported test results showing the
radioactive material about 100 yards from the Hudson River. The memo was
obtained by the environmental group Riverkeeper through the Freedom of
Riverkeeper officials said the low levels of nuclear pollution were less of a
concern than the lack of public disclosure by the agencies responsible for
protecting the health and safety of local residents.
"If they knew strontium 90 was in one well three months ago, why haven't
they tested all the wells for strontium?" asked Lisa Rainwater van Suntum,
Riverkeeper's Indian Point campaign director. "Have they also been testing
for cesium and cobalt, which showed up when the leak was first discovered? It
seems like this is a haphazard game that they're playing in terms of keeping the
State Health Department spokeswoman Claire Pospisill had initially said the
results showing the nuclear contamination were not available until late last
But yesterday, after reviewing a copy of the interagency e-mail, Pospisill
said her agency had received results in December, but decided not to release
them without further study.
"It was preliminary data," she said. "We had to confirm it,
and we did."
DEC spokeswoman Gabrielle DeMarco also said the December results were too
preliminary to release at the time.
The concentrations of strontium 90 found at the site are about a third of
what is allowed in drinking water.
Pospisill said state health officials are testing more wells for strontium
90, but results aren't complete yet. The agency hasn't found any cobalt or
cesium, she said.
Federal and local elected officials say they have little patience for any of
"I have repeatedly called for Indian Point to close," said Rep.
Eliot Engel, D-Bronx. "Unfortunately, since it remains open, we must
continue to call for strict measures for maintaining it as a safe facility —
one that is not contaminating our water nor risking our health."
The controversy started Monday, when Indian Point officials released test
results showing that a less-dangerous radioactive material, tritium, was likely
making its way into the Hudson River and had been found in test wells within 150
feet of the river's banks.
State health officials also said that strontium 90 had shown up in one well
about 300 feet from the river.
Strontium 90 is a byproduct of nuclear fission in weapons and reactors and is
considered a more powerful radioactive isotope than tritium.
Westchester County Executive Andrew Spano is now calling for a meeting on
Monday with representatives of the state's Health Department and DEC, the
federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Entergy Nuclear Northeast, the plant's
"We just want answers — how dangerous it is, if it affects the water
system," Spano said. "We were a little blindsided by this. I had my
Health Department stay in constant contact with the state Health Department
after the leak was discovered. Their story is that there were traces (of
strontium 90) and they didn't want to do anything until they had studied it and
got it all straight."
Spano said keeping such important information from the local officials ends
up creating problems with the public's trust.
"It's a constant problem. We think their perspective is poor and their
judgment is poor," Spano said of state and federal officials who don't
routinely share information with their local counterparts. "They have no
concept of public reaction and the responsibility to the public."
Rockland County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef said the lack of notice was
"I don't even have a clue as to what the justification could have been
for it not to be put in the public domain," Vanderhoef said.
Rockland emergency officials said they had not heard any discussion of the
presence of strontium 90 in the biweekly meetings of the agencies responsible
for Indian Point safety.
Spano said the Westchester County Health Department also didn't know about
the radioactive isotope.
Indian Point officials have said they didn't know there was strontium 90
underground until they were told by the state Health Department on Monday.
Spano said he wants to hear from Indian Point's hydrologists about the test
wells and the potential paths of the radioactive water.
"More must be done to determine where the radioactive water is coming
from, and the fuel pools must be checked further for leaks," Spano said.
"I want all the wells tested for strontium 90 and tritium."
THE JOURNAL NEWS
(Original publication: March 1, 2006)
BUCHANAN — Radioactive water moving toward the Hudson River
may be traveling along tiny cracks in the bedrock created decades ago by
explosive charges used during a construction project, Indian Point engineers and
federal regulators say.
"When they blasted the bedrock in the late 1960s to early 1970s for the
construction of various facilities, they created seams," said Jim Steets,
spokesman for Entergy Nuclear Northeast, the owner of the nuclear plants.
"Do they know exactly where those seams are? I don't think they do, but the
seams created flow paths toward the river."
Indian Point officials released test results Monday showing for the first
time that tritium, a radioactive material, had traveled to a testing well within
150 feet of the river. They added that the hairline cracks in the bedrock are
not large enough to create structural problems for buildings at the site.
Officials from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Entergy acknowledged
that tritium probably was reaching the Hudson River, though the isotope did not
show up in tests near the waterline.
A second, more dangerous radioactive isotope — strontium 90 — has been
found, however, said state Department of Health officials who tested a well
closer to the 400,000-gallon spent-fuel pool where a leak of radioactive water
was discovered in August.
State health officials completed those tests late last week and released them
Monday as well.
Entergy has estimated it will take six months to a year to determine the
extent of the radioactive water release and clean it up.
NRC and Entergy officials say there is no indication that the more powerful
isotope has made it as far as the river, but the company is continuing to drill
wells to chart where underground water is traveling at the site and what it
"We're still in the midst of our own special inspection and will be
there every step of the way," NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan said.
There is no public health concern at this point, Sheehan said.
Yesterday, the NRC took more samples of water from a well that earlier showed
tritium was closing in on the Hudson. Those results will probably not be ready
for a week, officials said.
Health Department spokeswoman Claire Pospisill said her agency is continuing
to test for strontium 90 at other Indian Point wells. Those tests take a month
or more to run and must be done with very sensitive equipment.
The NRC has tentatively scheduled a public meeting on the leak and inspection
for the end of the month, with a full report to be made public a few weeks
The company has hired a hydrologist to determine where water is flowing
underneath the two nuclear reactors, which deliver about 2,000 megawatts of
power to the region.
Most of the water below ground moves north to south, Entergy officials say,
but the discovery of tritium closer to the Hudson River means the water is
finding some east-west pathways.
One of the facilities built for Indian Point was a discharge canal that runs
between the Hudson River and a large turbine building where nuclear energy is
actually transformed to electricity.
The discharge canal has served as a means for the company to monitor the
release of radioactive particles into the ecosystem. For instance, the company
has a permitted release of tritium that just exceeds 1,800 curies — the unit
of measure of radioactive substances.
The amount of radiation found in wells near the canal is a tiny fraction of
that — so small it is measured in picocuries. A picocurie is a trillionth of a
Still, the federal drinking-water limit is 20,000 picocuries of tritium per
liter of water, and testing from the leak site to the Hudson River showed
amounts varying from that level to 511,000 picocuries near the storage tank.
What created concern among local emergency officials and others when the
latest testing data were made available Monday was that tritium showed up in
greater concentrations — about 30,000 picocuries per liter — in a well that
was on the river side of the discharge canal.
That meant the radioactive water was running below the canal, and its release
was not being monitored or counted against Indian Point's tritium release
"We liked it better when the tritium was in the discharge canal, because
that's a monitored pathway," Steets said. "We have another monitored
with the new well, but is that the only place? We don't know. That's why we're
digging additional wells."
Steets said there would be 14 more, part of a second phase of drilling that
Entergy hopes will pinpoint the tritium plume underground.
As the hydrology reports — one by the NRC and one by the company — are
finished, Entergy engineers hope to determine where the radioactive water
originated. One theory is that it was released more than a decade ago during
So far, half-life tests done to determine the age of the water have been
inconclusive. Tritium has a half-life of 12 1/2 years, meaning that half of its
radioactivity dissipates every 12 1/2 years.
The company is continuing its efforts to determine if there are more leaks in
the 6-foot-thick walls of the spent-fuel storage pool, which is 40 feet deep and
poses enough danger that underwater divers can venture only so far without
exposing themselves to deadly levels of radiation.
'likely' a bit hot
Feb 28 06 Times Herald Record
- Low-levels of radioactive water have been found below the Indian Point nuclear
power plant near the Hudson River, providing the "strongest indication
yet" that contamination is reaching the waterway, plant officials said
Point owners announced in September that a spent fuel storage pool was leaking
water laced with tritium, a nuclear power byproduct considered a carcinogen by
the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
September, contamination had only been found close to the pool. But a recently
dug well 150 feet from the river confirmed levels above the federal drinking
Steets, an Entergy Nuclear Northeast spokesman, said state health officials are
also investigating the recent discovery of strontium-90, another nuclear
byproduct, near the pool.
the developments, however, Steets said there is no threat to public health. More
study is needed before a cleanup can begin.
Radioactive water leak stopped at Indian Point; cause still
By GREG CLARY
THE JOURNAL NEWS
(Original publication: January 6, 2006)
The cause of the leak still has not been determined, a
spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said, and the agency will
continue its special investigation until there are more definitive conclusions.
NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan said the agency and the state
Department of Environmental Conservation also have verified through off-site
water sampling that there is no detectable radiological contamination from
tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen that has been detected in larger
concentrations near leak from Indian Point 2's spent fuel pool.
"The flow appears to be in the direction of the spent
fuel pools," Sheehan said.
"We saw pretty significant drop-off after it was first
identified," Sheehan said. "Now they're not seeing any new moisture
coming out of there."
Sheehan said new wells drilled since the leak appeared in late
August show the strongest concentrations of tritium near the spent fuel pool,
which contains 400,000 gallons of water used to cool spent nuclear fuel rods.
Jim Steets, a spokesman for plant owner Entergy Nuclear
Northeast, said the company will continue to investigate the cause and affect of
the leak, even to the point of drilling a second group of wells to pinpoint
exactly where the plume is underground.
"We want to corral this thing 360 degrees," Steets
said. "The leak has dried up now and we're getting a better picture of the
impact, but we want to be very confident about our findings."
Indian Point: the tritium search continues
Bedford Record Review, December 23, 2005
By ABBY LUBY
Since August, officials at the Indian Point Nuclear Power
Plants have been trying to locate a leak of water containing tritium, a
radioactive form of hydrogen and one of the many radionuclides released by
nuclear power plants.
Entergy Nuclear Northeast, owner of the Buchanan plants, has
almost completed digging nine wells that they hope will characterize the level
of tritium contamination at the site of the plants. Earlier this month water
sampled from a well near the Unit Two spent fuel pool was highly contaminated
with tritium. The 40-foot-deep pool stores used radioactive fuel assemblies.
The tritium levels near the spent fuel pool measured 600,000
picocuries per liter of water, which is 30 times the drinking water limit of
20,000 picocuries of tritium per liter set by the Environmental Protection
According to Neil Sheehan, spokesman for the Nuclear
Regulatory Commission (NRC), the leak was believed to be coming from the spent
fuel pool. Divers were sent into the pool in October to examine what they
thought were cracks in the pool wall.
"There were three flaws in the pool, and they used a
vacuum box device to see if they were leaking, and they determined they
weren't," said Mr.
Sheehan. "They are still going to repair [the flaws] as a
precaution. We are continuing to check the pool."
Three new wells were dug adjacent to the Unit Two reactor
building this week.
Mr. Sheehan said that only one of those wells was above the
EPA limit; one measured 142,000 picocuries per liter, and the others were 42,300
and 63,900 picocuries per liter.
"Wells closest to the Hudson River yielded either just
below the EPA drinking water limit or slightly above," said Mr. Sheehan.
"We are trying to paint a picture of the extent of the tritium
Phillip Musegaas, policy analyst for Riverkeeper, a
Tarrytown-based advocacy group monitoring the Hudson River, reservoirs, and
aquifers, said his group is concerned about contaminated water moving toward the
"Our main concern is that there is no plume of tritiated
water under the plant," said Mr. Musegaas. "We are trying to find out
if there's a body of water either moving toward the river or going into the
Geological documentation from the original Indian Point
licensing material shows that the plant is situated on a bowl-shaped depression,
according to Mr. Musegaas.
"All the on-site groundwater generally moves toward the
river," he said.
"That lessens the risk of a plume of water moving north
towards Peekskill or Buchanan. The NRC agrees with us that the groundwater flows
from the northwest to southeast in a 'down' angle
toward the river."
Mr. Sheehan said that there was no indication that the
tritiated water was getting into the groundwater. But health effects of tritium
in the water is a concern. In June the National Academies of Science released
their seventh report, "Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation," on
the health risks from exposure to low levels of ionizing radiation. The report
confirmed, as it did in previous reports over the last 25 years, that there is
no safe level of exposure to radiation and even very low doses can cause cancer.
The report also confirmed that tritium is carcinogenic and
mutagenic, and human beings can be exposed to tritium through inhalation,
absorption, or drinking contaminated water. Rapidly growing cells such as fetal
tissue, genetic materials, and blood-forming organs are particularly sensitive
to the effects of tritium.
The risk numbers in the report indicate that about 1 in 100
members of the public would get cancer if exposed to 100 millirads per year for
a 70-year lifetime. An average chest X-ray delivers about 10 millirads. The U.S.
Government considers 500 millirads per year safe if you live outside a nuclear
power plant. Tritium is known to have a 12.3-year half-life.
"You need to understand that when they say it has a
12.3-year half-life it doesn't mean it's gone in 12.3 years; it means only half
of it's gone," said Dan Hirsch of the Committee to Bridge the Gap, a
nuclear watchdog group that studies the effects of radiation. "It doesn't
mean that all of it's gone in 25 years. It takes approximately 250 years for it
to decay to negligible levels."
Water carries tritium and disperses into the water table. Mr.
Hirsch said tritium moves more rapidly than other radionuclides. "If it's
the water of the spent fuel pool that has the leak, that will cause tritium to
be found some distance away."
According to the layout of the power plant, the well near Unit
Two measuring 600,000 picocuries per liter is the farthest from the Hudson
Entergy spokesperson Jim Steets said that there's no evidence
that the tritium is traveling toward the river.
"It's still early to come to any conclusions," he
said. "We are gathering information which can lead you in one direction and
then in another direction."
The reason for the different directions could be that site
geology is mostly bedrock.
According to Mr. Hirsch, tracing tritium in wells dug in
bedrock becomes very complicated.
"When you have fractured bedrock as the means of
migration, it becomes very hard to pinpoint a plume," he said. "You
can put a well one place and not find it, put a well next to it and find it. You
can have higher concentrations further away from the source. It's not a nice
neat plume. It can get very complicated to determine how far it's gone, how wide
it is, how deep it is, or where it came from."
Mark Cox, the NRC senior resident at Indian Point Two, said
that the initial plan was to dig nine wells. "We are still working to get
those nine initial wells in," he said. "Based on results from those
nine wells we will determine whether we do an increase in scope or go ahead and
treat the water."
The typical remediation techniques are pumping the water out
and getting the water to a monitored location, said Mr. Cox.
But Mr. Hirsch said tritium remediation is very difficult.
"It's impossible to remove tritium," he said.
"Most contaminants are either dissolved or suspended in the water. If it's
suspended, you can filter it out; if it's dissolved you can run it through
things like charcoal ion resins."
But because tritium combines with oxygen to form a liquid it
actually is the water, said Mr. Hirsch. "It's nothing you can filter out,
nothing you can readily remove. You can get it out by breaking the water apart
with electrolysis, which is immensely expensive. There may be some other
technique, but it's vastly more difficult to deal with than any other
There are other, heavier isotopes in the spent fuel pool, like
strontium 90 and cesium 137, that don't travel with water as well. "These
are also very bad radionuclides," said Mr. Hirsch. "But at least you
can remove them from water."
This week, results became known from water sampled from
stormwater drains near the plant's discharge canal. The canal feeds diluted
water into the Hudson River.
"One of the stormwater drains had a reading above the EPA
limit, which was 37,000 picocuries per liter," said Mr. Sheehan. "The
other was 12,000 picocuries."
"Storm drains don¹t discharge directly into the
discharge canal," he said.
"There is a dilution effect, so by the time the water
reaches the mouth of the river it is mixed with a greater volume of water."
Mr. Sheehan was unable to say when the storm drains were
"These levels are conservative estimates," said Mr.
Steets. "We routinely discharge tritium into the discharge canal, and it
measures about four-hundredths of one percent, or .04 percent of the normal
discharges of tritium."
Mr. Sheehan said the NRC was planning a public meeting
sometime in January about the tritium.
"By then we should have results from all nine
wells," he said. "We are looking to wrap up the special inspection in
December. In light of the fact that we are still drilling wells and taking
samples, we would rather wait until Entergy has a better sense of the
contamination and where they are going with it."
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Test wells contain radioactive water
Cause of Indian Point leak still unknown
BUCHANAN — Federal nuclear regulators confirmed Tuesday
afternoon that radioactive water is showing up in storm sewer lines and recently
dug wells near Indian Point 2 as engineers try to determine the cause of a
four-month leak there and its presence in the site’s groundwater.
A spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said elevated tritium levels
were found in manholes and testing wells in the area of Indian Point 2, where
radioactive water has leaked as much as two liters a day since the end of
Spokesman Neil Sheehan said the tritium levels found in the new wells and the
sewer manholes do not constitute a public health concern because they are not in
drinking water sources, but they exceed acceptable Environmental Protection
Sheehan also said a well dug near the Hudson River to test for tritium showed
levels of tritium below the EPA’s acceptable levels of 20,000 picocuries/liter
of water and that the amount of tritium released by the company into the Hudson
River still falls within acceptable discharge levels.
Two hairline cracks at the base of a 400,000-gallon spent-fuel tank were found
Aug. 22 during an excavation to put in a new crane to handle spent-fuel
assemblies as they’re being moved in and out of water for storage. Tritium,
which emits a relatively weak radiation that can increase the risk of cancer, is
routinely found in the water used in the 40-foot-deep tanks.
Results not unexpected
A spokesman for Entergy Nuclear Northeast, which owns and
operates the two working nuclear reactors at Indian Point, said the elevated
levels in the manholes on site were not unexpected because of the sewer pipes’
proximity to the testing wells.
Entergy spokesman Jim Steets said the leaking water, which has been captured by
a specially designed system since early September, has all but dried up.
“We’re getting an ounce over several days now,” Steets said.
The company hasn’t determined the cause of the leak. Entergy workers and
consultants have undertaken a number of steps to find and stop it, including
sending a diver into the tank to probe for flaws. Steets said the company would
drill more wells and continue to search for the source and reach of the tritium.
‘‘We have a couple more pieces of the puzzle with this latest information,
but they’re still not telling us enough,‘‘ Steets said. ‘‘By
themselves, they’re not that conclusive.‘‘
Local elected officials continued to hammer the commission and Entergy about the
leak and its potential health hazards.
“The NRC needs to prove it can protect surrounding communities and the Hudson
River from this leak,” said Rep. Sue Kelly, R-Katonah, who asked commission
Chairman Nils Diaz at a Dec. 8 meeting to intensify the agency’s investigation
of the leak. “We’re not seeing the progress we should be in containing this
Greg Clary can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Poughkeepsie Journal Editorial
Halt tritium leaks at Indian Point
The discovery of increased levels of leaked tritium at
Indian Point demonstrates the need for quick action to resolve this serious
Entergy, the company that owns the nuclear power plant in
Westchester County, has been taking steps to discover the origin of contaminated
leakage that was discovered in August during a construction project.
It is disconcerting that the leak location has not yet been
determined. Compounding the situation is additional on-site well testing
revealed even more extensive contamination.
A recently drilled well recorded levels of radioactive tritium
30 times higher than the federal standard for drinking water. In October,
tritium was found in water at the bottom of six sample wells on the property.
The situation must be rectified. This radioactive isotope, in
large levels, can damage internal organs.
Entergy has important work ahead
Entergy is analyzing findings from the additional monitoring
wells to determine how the contamination is flowing through the property. The
leakage hasn't yet reached a well that's located between the facility and the
Hudson River, but that is hardly settling news. Tritium is still found on site,
in varying concentrations, and its source must be determined and repaired.
When Entergy took over ownership of the Indian Point plant,
there were ongoing leaks. One fuel tank was so damaged the company decided its
long-term solution would be to deactivate the tank and put the fuel rods into
dry storage. That has yet to happen. But as more seepages of contaminants are
found, it's obvious the company must be more aggressive in locating the sources.
To generate electricity, Indian Point depends on and produces
dangerous products. Safety, not only of the workers, but the neighboring
communities and the environment, must be the top priority.
Entergy Says It Plans On Digging More Wells To Find The Leak
December 3, 2005
(AP) WHITE PLAINS Officials say the water in a new well near
the spent-fuel pool at the Indian Point 2 nuclear power plant is contaminated
with radioactive tritium at a level 30 times higher than the federal standard
for drinking water.
The well was drilled by Entergy Nuclear Northeast, owner of the plant in
Buchanan, as part of an attempt to find the source of a small leak from the
40-foot-deep pool, which holds the highly radioactive fuel assemblies that
have been used in the nuclear reactor.
The leak was discovered in August when moisture was spotted on the outside
wall of the pool, beneath ground level, during an adjacent excavation.
Large amounts of tritium can damage internal organs. Critics have expressed
fears that it could eventually work its way into drinking water supplies or
into the nearby Hudson River.
The wells are dug only for sampling the ground water and are not drinking
Entergy plans to dig eight more wells to try to map the underground flow of
contaminated water as well as to find the leak.
(© 2005 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This
material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)
test well at nuclear site shows much higher contamination
2, 2005, 5:45 PM EST
PLAINS, N.Y. -- The water in a new well near the spent-fuel pool at the Indian
Point 2 nuclear power plant is contaminated with radioactive tritium at a level
30 times higher than the federal standard for drinking water, officials said
The well was drilled by Entergy Nuclear Northeast, owner of the plant in
Buchanan, as part of an attempt to find the source of a small leak from the
40-foot-deep pool, which holds the highly radioactive fuel assemblies that have
been used in the nuclear reactor.
leak was discovered in August when moisture was spotted on the outside wall of
the pool, beneath ground level, during an adjacent excavation. Concern grew in
October when low levels of tritium, a radioactive isotope, were found in water
at the bottom of six sampling wells on the Indian Point property.
Tritium is present in the pool water, along with strontium and cesium.
The worst reading from those wells was just slightly above the drinking water
standard, which is 20,000 picocuries of tritium per liter of water. But
according to data on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's Web site, the new well
yielded samples with tritium at 600,000 picocuries per liter.
Large amounts of tritium can damage internal organs.
The wells are dug only for sampling the ground water and are not drinking water
However, critics have expressed fears that the tritium beneath Indian Point
could eventually work its way into drinking water supplies or into the nearby
Hudson River. Entergy plans to dig eight more wells to try to map the
underground flow of contaminated water as well as to find the leak.
Both Neil Sheehan, spokesman for the NRC, and Entergy spokesman Jim Steets said
the finding was not unexpected, given that the well was within 5 feet of the
But Steets said it does not necessarily mean that the pool is the source of the
leak or that the contamination of the groundwater is new. It could have
persisted from earlier, repaired leaks, he said.
Steets said that when more wells are dug, officials will have a better idea of
where to look.
"One well by itself is not much of an identifier," he said. He noted
that the leak at the pool has diminished to as little as 10 to 25 milliliters
per day, down from 1,000 to 1,500 milliliters.
Officials thought they might have found the source of the leak last month when
they saw three discolored areas on the inside wall of the pool. But a diver,
heavily shielded against radiation, tested the spots and no leak was found.
Regulatory Commission Lowers Indian Point Safety Rating
November 9, 2005
Marilyn Elie 914-739-6164
Leaks from Irradiated Fuel Pools Raise New Worries
According to the
Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) website, Indian Point 2’s safety rating
has been down rated from green to white status for the second quarter.
Again, the NRC has been reticent in releasing significant safety information
about the plant, although the rating change occurred in August, this
information has only been recently released.
The plant lost its green rating because of degradation to the safety
injection system over a period of several weeks—this involved the
accumulation of nitrogen gas in portions of the safety injection system which
caused one pump to become inoperable and would have caused the performance of
the two remaining pumps to become degraded.
Mark Jacobs, spokesperson
for the Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition (IPSEC) stated: “Indian
Point, the first nuclear reactor to be given a red rating by the NRC after the
February 2000 steam generator leak, is again moving in the wrong direction.
The current profile of problems including degradation of the safety injection
system, faulty sirens, failing water pumps,
defective emergency sump pumps, defective fireproofing of electrical cables,
two leaking irradiated fuel pools, control rods dropping unexpectedly and a
backlog of over a thousands repairs show Indian Point to be too great a risk
for the surrounding community.”
The number of
problems at the plant has raised the concern of state and local officials.
In response to this pressure the NRC recently issued a "deviation"
memo that called for increased scrutiny of the reactors.
of Westchester Citizens Awareness Network (WestCAN) said, "They can
inspect it until the cows come home. What good is that going to do?
It did not keep the spent fuel pool from leaking and it has not kept the water
pump operating properly. We need to put an end to this nonsense.
Indian Point is an aging plant that will unquestionably be closed. The
only question is when. And the only rational answer is: as soon as
possible. The minute this decision is made, the marketplace will have
the incentive to develop replacement energy sources."
As has been reported,
problems with the spent fuel pool at Indian Point have resulted in the leak of
the radioactive isotopes tritium, cesium and cobalt into the soil and
groundwater surrounding the pools. It
has just been discovered that there have been similar leaks at the
Yankee nuclear plant. Connecticut Yankee reports the east side
concrete wall shows some concentrations of cesium, cobalt, strontium and
tritium, three of which are the same isotopes found leaking from the Indian
Point fuel pool.
In both cases it is not
known when the leak started or how much water was lost from the spent fuel
pool. In fact, the Indian Point 2 Spent fuel pool is the only one in the
country that was built without ‘leak detection channels’ between the steel
liner and the concrete outer wall of the pool. Had the pool been built
consistently with other plants’ designs, the leak would have been detected
immediately. At Connecticut Yankee, monitoring equipment failed to
detect a leak. The leaks were found much later by sampling water in
nearby wells. In both cases radioactive isotopes are migrating away from
the pool and possibly into ground water. In the case of Indian Point,
the migration pathway includes the
Marilyn Elie of WestCAN
said, “It is now evident that these pools have reached the end of their
useful life. Reactors are like used cars, you can only keep patching
them up for so long and then you just can't throw enough money at them to keep
them operating safely.”
"It is unconscionable
that nuclear corporations not only leak toxic materials, but act like its no
big deal," said Deb Katz, executive director of Citizens Awareness
Network. "Pool leakage is a systemic problem at aging reactor sites. In
western MA, Yankee Rowe's compromised fuel pool leaked tritium as well as
chemicals into the groundwater. Two of the tritium plumes are
double the EPA drinking water standard. This violation of the community's
trust is a big deal."
While officials at Entergy
continue to maintain that the amounts radioactive
isotopes discovered in the water are below current regulatory limits, a recent
report by the National Academy of Science determined that there is no such
thing as a risk free low level of radiation. Moreover, long term
exposure to low levels of radioactive isotopes is carcinogenic. Notably,
regular and routine radioactive emissions are part of the everyday operation
of nuclear reactors.
Indian Point is located on the
's fault line. This fault line has caused displacement problems with
conduits in the past.
Michel Lee of IPSEC
questioned if earth tremors could have caused the cracks in the concrete walls
of the pool and noted that cracking, fraying, breaks and corrosion are the
realities of any aging system. “These problems will only get worse, if
the plant is re-licensed for an additional 20 years. Indian Point is a
menace to the people who live and work in the
metropolitan region; it is a plant that was built in the wrong place, yet the
$10 billion Entergy Corporation reaps hundreds of millions of dollars
profit annually from Indian Point.” She added, "After Indian Point has
closed, we will no longer have to face headlines like “NUKE LEAK TAINTED
Point leak sources found
THE JOURNAL NEWS
Publication: November 4, 2005)
BUCHANAN — Entergy engineers told a group of elected and
public officials yesterday that they have isolated three locations inside Indian
Point 2's spent-fuel pool that may be the source of leaking radioactive water at
the site and will start to work on those areas next week.
They also said they will
start drilling at least five new wells at the same time to make sure the leak
has been contained properly.
Though the tests are not
yet conclusive, engineers said the flaws in the tank — which range in size
from 1 to 6 inches — were discovered this week at joints along a quarter-inch
stainless steel pool liner during an underwater-camera inspection of the
By next week, a diver
will go into the pool and place a box over two of the locations — between 16
and 22 feet from the top of the 40-foot-deep pool — to create a vacuum and
verify if the flaws are actual openings. If the leaks are coming from those
locations, officials said, divers will seal the spots with new welds or an
The third location,
according to company officials, is too far down to allow a diver and would have
to be sealed by another means, which engineers still are considering.
The five new wells, as
deep as 90 feet into the ground, will be dug to test how the underground water
around the fuel pool is moving. State health officials yesterday asked for
samples of the earth and water collected during those borings and were promised
they could independently analyze whatever is found.
Officials from the
Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the state's Department of Environmental
Conservation yesterday corroborated the leak findings, which were announced
during a presentation and tour of the plant for about four dozen elected
officials, their representatives and members of government agencies.
Northeast, the owner of Indian Point, invited the group to answer officials'
growing concerns and questions about the leak, which was discovered in late
August and continues to produce between 1 and 2 liters of radioactive water per
"We don't have all
the answers," said Fred Dacimo, an Entergy vice president in charge of
Indian Point. "We're working to get all the answers."
Two hairline cracks at
the base of the spent-fuel tank were found Aug. 22 during an excavation to put
in a new crane to handle spent-fuel assemblies as they're being moved in and out
of water for storage.
Since then, samples near
the leaks have turned up cesium, cobalt and tritium, all radioactive elements.
Tritium, the weakest of those, was the only material found far from the leak
site, officials said, probably because it can be carried in water through the
ground, while the other two materials were likely stopped by dirt.
watched as workers continued to excavate 30 feet below ground level, at the base
of the spent fuel pool, while a plastic sheet connected to a hose collected
whatever water came through the wall. Initially, engineers said it took days
just to collect 2 teaspoons of water to be analyzed.
The water is being
collected and disposed of properly, Entergy officials reiterated yesterday. Both
plant officials and those from the NRC said there was no threat to public health
or workers at the plant.
After touring the
site of the leak, near excavation work at the southwest corner of the spent-fuel
storage pool at Indian Point 2, and the locations of wells used to check for
further leaking, officials from Westchester, Putnam and Rockland counties
said they had a better idea of what the problem was and what Entergy was doing
to fix it.
"I think it puts
things in perspective," said Susan Tolchin, Westchester County Executive
Andrew Spano's chief adviser. "I thought it was a really good presentation.
It could have been worse."
Tolchin, who said
Entergy's effort to educate leaders about the leak didn't change Spano's call
for the plant's closing, called on the NRC to expand its monitoring of older
spent-fuel pools nationwide, a suggestion NRC officials at the meeting said was
Galef, D-Ossining, who attended the tour, asked Indian Point officials for more
frequent and comprehensive updates. U.S. Rep. Nita Lowey, D-Harrison, who sent a
representative, in a later statement said the NRC must provide "independent
oversight of Indian Point to ensure that local officials and the public have
accurate and up-to-date information on any potential health and safety
Dacimo said he would
ensure that stakeholders were updated via conference calls every few weeks. NRC
officials said they also would increase their efforts to inform the public.
may have found source of radioactive leak at Indian Point
Associated Press Writer
3, 2005, 5:28 PM EST
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- A remote-controlled underwater camera may have found the
source of a leak of radioactive water from the spent-fuel pool at the Indian
Point 2 nuclear power plant, the plant's owner said Thursday.
The video camera found what could be rust spots near a joint in the steel lining
of the pool, said Jim Steets, a spokesman for Entergy Nuclear Northeast. The
discoloration was seen at depths ranging from 16 to 22 feet.
In August, during an excavation project, the company discovered slightly
radioactive water on the outside of the underground wall of the spent fuel pool.
The 40-foot-deep pool holds the highly radioactive fuel assemblies that have
been used in the nuclear reactor in Buchanan.
Concern grew last month after low levels of tritium, a radioactive isotope, were
found in water at the bottom of six sampling wells on the Indian Point property.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission tightened its oversight of Indian Point.
At the time, Entergy said it could not be sure that the water on the outside of
the pool was from a new leak or had remained in the ground after the repair of a
previous leak. The new video findings, however, show "a potential fault
very suggestive of being the source of the leak," Steets said. He said the
location is consistent with where the water is seen on the outside part of the
Steets said a diver _ protected from the radioactivity in the pool _ would slip
into the pool next week to place a "vacuum box" on the discolored
area. The box would suck water from the area and would draw in material from
outside the pool if there is a leak, Steets said.
Repairs might entail a new coating or new welding, Steets said. Meanwhile, the
inspection undertaken to find any leak is only one-third complete, he said.
Earlier Thursday, representatives of several political leaders, including Sen.
Hillary Clinton and Westchester County Executive Andrew Spano, were given a tour
of Indian Point to see how the company was working on the leak. Several
politicians had criticized Entergy for not reporting the leak sooner.
Rep. Nita Lowey said afterward that the visit "could be an indication of a
more open dialogue between the plant operators and the community but I remain
concerned about how this situation was handled from the beginning."
© 2005, The Associated Press
Tritium unsafe in any
(Original publication: October 29, 2005)
In "Indian Point 2 still leaking water" (Oct.
19 article), it would have been helpful to include some of the well-documented
dangers of radioactive tritium so that we would be informed as to the risk we
may be facing:
• Tritiated water passes through the human body in 12 days. However, when
it unites with carbon in the human body, it can remain in the body for 450 to
650 days. One study found traces of tritium in the body 10 years after
• When and where tritium deposits its radioactivity, it creates at least
one lesion in the cell. This lesion must be repaired within 24 hours or the
cell becomes carcinogenic when it eventually divides. There may be a threshold
below which the repair mechanism is not activated in the body; therefore, low
levels of chronic radiation exposure can accumulate in the body without the
repair system being activated. Indeed, this is consistent with the recent
National Academy of Sciences report affirming that even extremely low doses of
ionizing radiation (such as tritium) pose a health and cancer risk.
• In addition, radiological research has found a
correlation between tritium and cumulative genetic injury. There was found in
successive generations a reduction in relative brain weight, increased
re-absorption of embryos, and correlations with Down syndrome.
While Entergy scrambles to figure out the cause and extent of the tritium
leak, problems at Indian Point continue to increase. Remember, after Indian
Point has closed, we will no longer have to face headlines such as "Nuke
leak tainted wells."
chair pledges greater oversight of nuclear plant
25, 2005, 1:09 PM EDT
-- The head of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has pledged to boost oversight
of the Indian Point nuclear plants after the apparent leak of a radioactive
isotope, aides to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton said Tuesday.
Clinton, D-N.Y., met with NRC chairman Nils Diaz, who told her he would announce
in coming days "enhanced oversight ... with respect to both the leaks and
the emergency notification system," said the senator's spokesman, Philippe
Diaz didn't spell out exactly what the enhancements would be, but they could
include additional reporting requirements and closer monitoring of the site.
"They already have sent additional inspectors to Indian Point to check our
work," said Jim Steets, a spokesman for Indian Point's owner Entergy
"They're more than welcome to send more people, we're all on the same side
of this issue," he said.
Entergy and the NRC said last week that low levels of tritium, a radioactive
isotope, have been found in water at the bottom of six sampling wells on the
Indian Point property in Buchanan, N.Y.
The tritium may be the result of a leak from Indian Point 2's spent fuel pool,
first detected in August.
In one of the wells, the amount of tritium found was slightly above the federal
standard permitted for drinking water. However, none of the wells, which are 20
to 30 feet deep, are used for drinking water or for anything other than sampling
The water is believed to have leaked from a 40-foot-deep pool, which holds the
highly radioactive fuel assemblies that have been used in the nuclear reactor.
Experts are not sure if there is a new leak or if the contaminated water could
have come from a previous, already-repaired leak and just remained for years in
Tritium, which is used in a range of products from watch faces to nuclear bombs,
is present in nature in tiny amounts and is also a byproduct of the reactors.
The company is also wrestling with the failure of emergency sirens meant to warn
Last week, a majority of the sirens in Orange County did not work during a test,
and a similar test last month in Rockland County also failed.
The sirens have been a near-constant headache for Entergy, which has pledged to
replace the entire system within the next two years.
2005 Newsday Inc.
says NRC should speed up leak investigation at Indian Point
2005 Mid-Hudson News Network, a division of Statewide News Network, Inc.
Nuclear Regulatory Commission must show more urgency in its investigation
of a radioactive leak from one of the spent fuel pools at Indian Point,
Congresswoman Sue Kelly wrote yesterday in a letter to Nils Diaz, the
director of the agency.
of us in the communities surrounding Indian Point have serious
reservations about the NRC's response to this leak," Kelly wrote.
"From the outset, the Commission has failed to provide the prompt and
definitive answers that local officials expect it to provide ... the NRC
is not deeming this investigation as the urgent priority that the rest of
us living around Indian Point recognize it to be."
and other Hudson Valley area members of Congress have been expressing
their disapproval of the NRC's handling of the safety issue and its “lax
communications” with local officials.
said the problems began from the outset when the NRC waited until Sept. 20
to announce it was investigating a leak at Indian Point after discovering
it back on Sept. 2. "This lax response indicates a serious disconnect
between the NRC and those in the surrounding communities, and it raises
questions about the effectiveness of the NRC's response to this
leak," Kelly wrote to Diaz.
urged Diaz to directly brief members of New York's Congressional
delegation that represent the areas around Indian Point, asking him to
"provide us a more definitive timeline of your investigation."
Leak answers two months away
Publication: October 20, 2005)
- Indian Point engineers and scientists say it will take about two months to
determine if a leak from the spent fuel storage pool at Indian Point 2 is the
cause of raised radiation levels in five underground wells at the site.
take this very seriously, but it's a complex problem," said Don Leach, the
nuclear power plant's engineering director. "All the known leakage is being
five wells, at varying distances of up to 500 yards from the nuclear reactor,
showed trace elements of tritium during recent samplings by Indian Point
employees. The company said the wells are not for drinking water, and there was
no threat to the public or workers at the site.
Health Department officials yesterday said the agency had conducted water tests
near the site within the past month and found no problems.
have analyzed the latest samples for drinking water near the site, and there are
no issues with the water quality," said Jeffrey Hammond, a department
Nuclear Northeast, which owns the two functioning nuclear reactors at Indian
Point, has been working to stop the leak since it was discovered in late August
during excavation work around Indian Point 2.
the next two weeks, Entergy officials said they plan to bring in underwater
cameras and possibly a diver to check for cracks in the 400,000-gallon storage
leak is relatively small, according to Nuclear Regulatory Commission officials,
amounting to between 1 and 2 liters of water per day.
officials said the only radiological material that has been found away from the
leak site is tritium, an element that is relatively weak in terms of hazards,
compared with other materials in the storage pool, such as cobalt and cesium.
is a naturally occurring element in the environment," said Leach, adding
that he's been exposed to higher levels of tritium on the ski slopes of Vermont
than at the nuclear plant.
Mayer, Indian Point's director of special projects, said the cause of the higher
tritium levels found during the recent sampling "is very much up for
discussion," though the concentrations for the five wells were much lower
than an earlier sample taken close to the spent-fuel pool.
other samples, taken earlier between Indian Point 2 and a steam-powered turbine,
showed no evidence of tritium, company officials said.
said the five recent well samples taken near the turbine showed radiation levels
similar to what is given off routinely as part of the giant machine's operation,
which indicates a possibility that the tritium originated there.
company plans to drill about eight wells, 4 inches in diameter, in the vicinity
of Indian Point 2 to gather samples that should show more conclusively how the
tritium may or may not be moving underground.
Lochbaum, a nuclear safety engineer with the Union of Concerned Scientists, said
tritium's transportability in water makes it somewhat dangerous because of the
potential that it can get into drinking water off-site.
can do a lot of damage on the inside if swallowed, but if you just come in
contact with it, your skin is a good protector," Lochbaum said. "The
good news is that it's still on the Indian Point site and hasn't apparently
moved to neighboring land or water. They're doing the right thing now, having
news of the sample results spread yesterday, elected officials and opponents of
Indian Point said residents deserve a clear picture of possible pollution from
the nuclear plant.
Rainwater, a spokeswoman for the environmental organization Riverkeeper, said
the area's water must be protected, whether it's in the Hudson River or coming
out of residents' faucets.
becoming dizzy with all the bad news coming out of Indian Point," Rainwater
said, noting Tuesday's emergency siren notification problems during a test of
the 10-mile evacuation zone. "I think enough is enough. We need to not only
be looking at the site for tritium, but the sediment in the Hudson River and
testing the water supply for the residents in the area. If it comes out clean,
fantastic. The point is to act now. Who knows how long it's been leaking?"
York's senators said they also were troubled by the tritium levels.
Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., whose staff listened in on a multi-agency
telephone briefing about the leak Tuesday, vowed to discuss the problem soon
with top NRC officials.
briefing reinforces my serious concerns about the leak, and I plan to
communicate directly with NRC Chairman Nils Diaz at our meeting next week,"
Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., also wants more federal oversight.
leak needs to be fixed right now. Its effects must be identified and mitigated,
and thorough monitoring must be instituted to prevent further incidents,"
Schumer said. "I will demand that the NRC continue stringent oversight of
the problem as Entergy searches for the source of the problem and a permanent
solution. I also expect the NRC to keep the public and elected officials fully
and promptly informed as it discerns additional information."
officials haven't been able to determine when the leak started but said they're
going to move as quickly as possible to have it repaired.
Officials To See If Tainted Water Reaching
October 20, 2005
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- Experts will study the contours
of the earth and rock beneath the Indian Point nuclear power plants to see if
the slightly radioactive water that has been found underground could end up in
the public drinking supply or the Hudson River, the plants' owner said
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Entergy Nuclear
Northeast, which owns the plants in Buchanan, said Wednesday that low levels
of tritium, a radioactive isotope, have been found in water at the bottom of
six sampling wells on the Indian Point property.
Spokesmen said the tritium may be the result of a leak from
Indian Point 2's spent fuel pool, first detected in August.
In one of the wells, the amount of tritium is slightly above
the federal standard permitted for drinking water, said NRC spokesman Neil
Sheehan. However, none of the wells, which are 20-30 feet deep, are used for
drinking water or for anything other than sampling groundwater, said Entergy
spokesman Jim Steets.
Tritium, which is used in a range of products from watch
faces to nuclear bombs, is present in nature in tiny amounts and is also a
byproduct of the Indian Point reactors.
"You're going to find tritium around, in the ground, in
the drains, because it's a byproduct of the way the plant operates,"
Steets said. "It's harmless there because nobody's drinking it and
there's no chance it's going to end up in those concentrations in drinking
"That's not to say we don't feel we have to do
something about it," he added. Entergy has hired a hydrologist to
determine how water moves, unseen, under the Indian Point installation.
Steets said previous studies have shown that water moves
parallel to the Hudson and not into it, "but since then we've put
buildings on the site so we have to look to see how that may have impacted the
The new study will help Entergy determine where to dig more
wells to test the water, he said.
NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan said the sampling that detected
the tritium was part of the continuing investigation into the discovery in
August of slightly radioactive water on the outside of the underground wall of
the spent fuel pool at Indian Point 2.
The water is believed to have leaked from a 40-foot-deep
pool, which holds the highly radioactive fuel assemblies that have been used
in the nuclear reactor. But experts are not sure if there is a new leak or if
the contaminated water could have come from a previous, already-repaired leak
and just remained for years in the ground.
Senator Hillary Clinton, who was briefed Tuesday about the
leak, said she would register her "serious concerns" during a
meeting next week with NRC Chairman Nils Diaz.
Lisa Rainwater of the environmental group Riverkeeper, which
campaigns for the shutdown of Indian Point, said at least Indian Point 2
should be closed immediately to stop the production of spent fuel for the
"It doesn't make sense to keep generating waste to put
in a pool that's leaking," she said.
Steets said only a liter or two of the water is recovered
every day. Entergy is planning to use remote controlled cameras in the pool --
and later a diver, if necessary -- to look for the source of a leak.
"This is going to take some time," Sheehan said.
"The important thing now is for Indian Point to get a handle on the
extent of leakage and, if in fact the pool is leaking, to stop that
The Journal News
Your report on "tainted " wells
caused by leakage from Indian Pt. appears to be somewhat understated by IP
and EPA officials. I'm not so sure they would feel comfortable having
their children drink lemonade made with this 'acceptable' liquid that
"doesn't pose a threat". In reviewing the literature on tritium
one learns it can be deadly. A radioactive form of hydrogen, it has a
half-life of twelve years. Because it gives off relatively small amounts of beta
(electron) radiation, it is considered less dangerous than many other isotopes.
However tritium behaves chemically and biochemically like ordinary hydrogen.
When ingested, it can incorporate itself into all forms of body cells, including
those of the reproductive system. Researchers theorize that because of its
ability to act like regular water, tritium can incorporate with the DNA in
living cells, multiplying the prospects for damage leading to genetic mutations
Now let them tell me again about 'safe
levels'. I'm not even gonna' talk about "those
Indian Point 2 still leaking water
THE JOURNAL NEWS
(Original Publication: October 19, 2005)
What is tritium?
• Tritium is a radioactive isotope of the element hydrogen. It is
naturally produced in the upper atmosphere when cosmic rays strike air
molecules and as a byproduct in nuclear reactors that produce
• It readily forms water when exposed to oxygen and almost always is
found as "tritiated" water. It primarily enters the body when
people swallow tritiated water. People also may inhale tritium as a gas
in the air or absorb it through their skin.
• Once tritium enters the body, it quickly disperses and is uniformly
• As with all ionizing radiation, exposure to tritium increases the
risk of developing cancer. However, tritium is one of the least
dangerous radionuclides because it emits very weak radiation and leaves
the body relatively quickly. Since tritium almost always is found as
water, it goes directly into soft tissues and organs. The associated
dose to these tissues generally is uniform and dependent on the tissues'
• People are exposed to small amounts of tritium every day. It is
widely dispersed in the environment and in the food chain.
• For more information, visit www.epa.gov/radiation/radionuclides/tritium.htm
Indian Point and federal regulatory
officials confirmed yesterday that recent samplings of five underground wells
around Indian Point 2 turned up trace amounts of tritium, a hydrogen isotope
that may be carried in water that has been leaking from a spent-fuel storage
tank since at least late August.
Officials for Entergy Nuclear Northeast, which owns the two
working reactors at the Buchanan site, said the levels of tritium found are well
below the amount allowed by the Environmental Protection Agency for drinking
water and do not pose a threat to the public or to workers at the site.
Tritium most commonly is found in self-illuminating watches or
exit signs and gives off a relatively weak radiation that can increase the risk
Nuclear Regulatory Commission officials confirmed the
concentrations of tritium found so far and participated in a multi-agency
conference call yesterday in which Entergy detailed its plans to determine the
cause of the leak and the effect of it on the surrounding area. Initially, the
leak amounted to half a liter per day. Since the company changed its water
collection system, the amount collected daily is about two liters.
The company plans to take the following steps
• Drilling and testing eight more wells on the site around
Indian Point 2, starting in about a month.
• Inspecting the liner of the spent-fuel pool, first with
underwater cameras and then maybe with a diver who will descend into the pool to
look for cracks. That should begin in the next two weeks.
• Developing a mitigation plan for the leak within two
months that may include capturing the leaking water and having it removed from
Local elected and emergency officials, who initially were
upset that it took weeks for Entergy to notify them about the leak, said they
want some answers.
C.J. Miller, a spokeswoman for Rockland County Executive C.
Scott Vanderhoef, said Vanderhoef is especially concerned that an earlier test
sample closer to the reactor showed tritium concentrations 10 times higher than
the acceptable levels.
"Even though it's on Indian Point property, it's located
in a densely populated area and right on the banks of the Hudson River,"
She said Rockland officials asked for testing of the river's
water during the conference call yesterday and supported Westchester County's
request to involve the state Department of Environmental Conservation
"Any level of contamination in the groundwater is
unacceptable," Miller said. "Plus, we have no idea how long this has
been going on."
Officials from Entergy and the NRC said yesterday they were
open to the DEC and other state agencies monitoring the leak.
"Everyone is welcome to check the work we're doing,"
said Jim Steets, an Entergy spokesman.
NRC still quiet on Indian Point concerns
The Legislative Gazette
Written by: By KEN IP
Mon, Oct 3, 2005 9:03 am
Gazette staff writer
The official outcry over the handling of a recent leak at the
Indian Point nuclear power plant has yet to be responded to, according to
officials at the federal government’s nuclear watchdog agency.
A small leak in one of Indian Point’s spent-fuel pools was
announced by the agency, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and Entergy Nuclear
Northeast, the company that owns the plant, on Sept. 20, nearly two weeks after
the leak was discovered.
Although the leak was not found to be a danger to the
public’s health or safety, officials on both the state and federal level were
incensed about the delay. Officials from Westchester County, where the plant is
located, joined Gov. George E. Pataki and senators Charles Schumer and Hillary
Clinton in calling for meetings with NRC chairman Nils J. Diaz.
“People deserve answers about what happened, whether they
are safe, and why they weren’t told about the problem sooner,” Clinton said
in her statement asking for the meeting.
Those meetings have yet to take place, said a spokesman for
They were “still in the process of responding to
congressional requests,” said the spokesman, and were considering the idea of
public hearings on the matter. No timeframe for when the meetings might happen
The agency’s reason for the delay was a lack of concrete
evidence in the early stages of the leak and the fact that the leak did not
appear to be a threat. An Entergy spokesman said that it might have been better
to act sooner, in light of the public reaction, but that similar situations in
the future would still be handled on a case-by-case basis.
The leak’s announcement was the latest in a series of
recent problems at the plant. Two storms in July caused power outages that
temporarily disabled the plant’s emergency warning system, and a test of the
system on Sept. 14 revealed malfunctions in some of the sirens designed to alert
area residents of an emergency.
|Kelly: NRC Must
Improve Handling of Safety Issue at Indian Point
September 29, 2005
NRC Evaluating Whether or Not Leak Is Increasing
WASHINGTON – After reprimanding Nuclear Regulatory Commission officials
last week for their inexcusable delay in informing local officials and the
public about a radioactive leak from one of the spent fuel pools at Indian
Point 2, U.S. Congresswoman Sue Kelly today said the NRC must further
improve its handling of a safety concern that the agency says it continues
Kelly and other local members of Congress were briefed about the leak late
this afternoon after recently expressing their disapproval of the NRC’s
handling of the safety issue. The NRC disclosed that it is currently
evaluating whether or not the leak is slowly increasing.
“We won’t tolerate a lackadaisical approach when it comes to safety at
Indian Point,” Kelly said. “The NRC needs to do a better job of
responding to issues like this and communicating to surrounding
communities and local officials.”
The problems began when the NRC waited until Sept. 20 to announce it was
investigating a small leak at Indian Point, after discovering it back on
Sept. 2. Officials from the Department of Homeland Security and the NRC
met with local officials at Kelly’s request on Sept. 15 regarding Indian
Point safety and emergency preparedness issues, yet at no time during the
meeting was the leak disclosed.
When Kelly asked for reasons behind the notification delay during a Sept.
21 call to NRC officials, the response was that it was such a small and
insignificant leak that it did not rise to the NRC’s level of immediate
“Our confidence in the safety of operations at Indian Point will not
improve without a more rigorous effort by the NRC,” Kelly said. “We
need to know that they are responding quickly and appropriately to
troubling reports such as this leak.”
# # #
Spano asks for meeting
with NRC about latest Indian Point leaks
Copyright © 2005 Mid-Hudson News Network, a
division of Statewide News Network, Inc.
Monday, September 26, 2005
Saying he remained alarmed about the revelation last week of a leak
of radioactive water at Indian Point, Westchester County Executive
Andrew Spano has written to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to ask for
an immediate meeting.
“The leak, although characterized by both Entergy and the NRC as
insignificant, is anything but that,” Spano said in a letter to Nils
Diaz, the chairman of the NRC. “The fact that this condition was first
reported to the NRC in late August or early September and local
officials weren’t informed of its existence until September 20th has
left us questioning the effectiveness of the NRC as an industry
regulator. It also questions how we can continue to assure our citizens
that the NRC is closely monitoring the licensee and plant operations.”
Saying he was writing in his capacity as chairman of the Four County
Nuclear Committee for the Indian Point Nuclear Plants, Spano said he was
concerned about the revelation last week of an ongoing leak of
radioactive water from an excavation site near the spent fuel pool of
Indian Point Reactor #2.
He said to Diaz, “I genuinely appreciated your visiting Westchester
to meet and provide us with security information. During that visit you
encouraged me to never hesitate to contact you in the future with any
concerns. I am asking that you come again to Westchester to meet with me
and the county executives of Rockland, Putnam and Orange to discuss the
details of this fuel pool leak.”
The New York Times
September 25, 2005
A Troubling Leak
The seepage has been slow, showing up
only in trace amounts. But given enough time, we hope, measurable quantities of
common sense may find their way through hairline cracks in the reinforced skulls
of officials at Entergy Nuclear Northeast and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission,
and they will realize that local leaders and a jittery public deserve complete,
accurate and timely information about problems at the Indian Point nuclear
The decision by Entergy and the
commission to delay reporting a leak of radioactive water from a spent-fuel pool
at Indian Point led to a predictable eruption of anger last week. Officials from
Senators Hillary Clinton and Charles Schumer to county executives in Westchester
and Rockland expressed dismay at having been left in the dark for three weeks
about the problem, which was discovered during excavation work and still has not
Entergy's defense - that the leak is
negligible and the danger nil - does not address the most pressing concern of
local officials, including James Tuffey, the director of New York State's
Emergency Management Office. "At a time when the public is expecting the
highest level of coordination between and among all levels of government and
their agencies, this failure to share and coordinate this information is
unacceptable," he wrote in a letter to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Mr. Tuffey put it perfectly. In this
age of recurring catastrophe, it has become all too clear that the theoretical
web of protection woven by emergency planners can reveal gaping holes when
finally put into use. One need only recall the confusion on 9/11 and the
collapse of order after Hurricane Katrina to realize that the best protection
against chaos is free-flowing information, widely shared. The calculated silence
about this recent leak shows that Entergy does not fully understand what it
takes to win and retain public confidence.
Plans have flaws and technology is
frail, as the failures in Indian Point's seemingly bewitched system of warning
sirens demonstrate. Entergy, beset by residents, politicians and advocacy groups
that would close the plant in a heartbeat if they could, should see the
advantages of scrupulous openness.
But its own efforts at disclosure carry
the odor of public relations. Its web site, safesecurevital.org,
which purports "to serve as a reliable source of information regarding our
Indian Point Energy Center," includes a heavily redacted assortment of news
clippings called "Indian Point in the News," with headlines like
"Nuclear Power Vital to U.S.," but not a word about, say, its ongoing
struggle to get its siren system fixed.
We welcome the nuclear agency's
decision to look into the Indian Point leak and assess Entergy's plan to fix it.
But such efforts must be matched by a deeper commitment to public disclosure,
particularly as Entergy takes on the tricky task of moving to a new storage
system for its spent fuel. After the debacle of the unplugged leak, "the
degree of confidence is certainly not improved," said C. Scott Vanderhoef,
the Rockland County executive, putting it quite mildly.
New Leak Gives Lift to Indian Point Critics
BUCHANAN, N.Y., Sept. 23 - Last week, there was a disappointing test of the
emergency sirens at the Indian Point nuclear power plant here. This week,
there was a leak from one of the pools containing the spent-fuel rods.
The storm of protest over the handling of the leak, with several elected
officials expressing anger that they were not notified sooner, recalled the
months and years following the Sept. 11 attacks, when the movement to shut the
plant down had the most momentum.
But even if the plant were to be shut, as some state and federal lawmakers
continue to urge, the issue of what to do with the highly radioactive
spent-fuel rods would not go away. With plans to accept spent fuel, at Yucca
Mountain in Nevada
delayed, those rods would most likely remain here in northern Westchester
County for many years.
Entergy Nuclear Northeast, which owns the plant, is now developing a
storage system using dry casks or silos to contain the spent-fuel rods,
because the pools that now hold the rods will eventually run out of room. It
was during excavation work earlier this month in preparation for the transfer
of rods that workers found dampness along a hairline crack on the outside wall
of the pool at reactor No. 2.
The leak was so small that it was difficult to collect enough water at
first to test, and initial tests came back negative. But another test days
later revealed low levels of radioactivity, and Entergy officials are now
trying to determine its precise source, a process that could take weeks. It
could be residual moisture from a much larger leak from the same pool that was
repaired in 1992.
Engineers are also considering the possibility that there is a small hole
in the pool's steel liner through which water is seeping.
Whatever its source, Entergy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the
federal agency that oversees the nuclear industry, have said that the leak
poses no health risk to the public or to workers at the plant.
Tests show that the level of radioactivity in the leaking water is minimal
- less than 1 percent of the amount in a household smoke detector. The level
drops away to almost nothing 1 to 2 feet from the moisture
On Friday, workers - whose radiation exposure at the plant is meticulously
tracked - toiled within feet of the leak, without protective clothing
Leaks are not unusual at nuclear power plants, Entergy officials say. For
15 years, water from a slow leak at another pool at the inactive Indian Point
1 reactor has been monitored, collected and disposed of.
But what incensed elected officials this week was the delay in notifying
them. They learned on Tuesday, along with the news media, about the leak,
which was discovered to be radioactive nearly two weeks earlier.
This week, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton called for Senate hearings. The
Westchester County executive, Andrew J. Spano, asked for a meeting with the
Nuclear Regulatory Commission's chairman, Nils J. Diaz. And the State
Emergency Management Office, with Gov. George E. Pataki's support, wrote to
the commission to demand an investigation.
Entergy officials say they were taken aback by the official response,
arguing that they followed all protocols in dealing with the leak. They said
they would have alerted public officials sooner had there been any threat.
Moreover, Entergy said, it needed time to assess the leak so that it had
information. "If we were to try to communicate the minute we find
evidence of something, we would be overwhelming the public with
information," said Geoffrey E. Schwartz, the engineer in charge of the
dry cask storage project.
Don M. Leach, Entergy Nuclear Northeast's director of engineering, said:
"There is nothing other than a completely aboveboard, rigorous process at
But Assemblyman Richard L. Brodsky of Westchester, who has long been
critical of Entergy, said the company should have alerted elected officials
"They should have said, 'Here's what we know and we can't draw any
conclusions, so sit tight,' " he said in a phone interview on Friday.
"If they were to start engaging in that sort of pattern, eventually there
would be a sense that there's a cop on the beat."
On Tuesday, Representative Nita M. Lowey issued a statement voicing
"outrage that Entergy left the public in the dark about this leak for
over a week." She contended that Entergy would not have discovered the
leak were it not for the construction work.
But Entergy counters that any major leak would be apparent from dropping
water levels in the pools. And chemists and engineers periodically bore into
the soil for samples and continually monitor the air. "We have a lot of
data points to give us information that something's not right," Mr. Leach
New York State Chides NRC For Late
Notification Of Indian Point Leak
POSTED: 9:18 am EDT September 22, 2005
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- New York state is demanding "a full and open
investigation" into the discovery of radioactive water outside the
spent-fuel pool at the Indian Point 2 nuclear power plant.
James Tuffey, director of the state Emergency Management Office,
complained in a letter to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission about not
being notified of the leak until Tuesday, "well after it was initially
"At a time when the public is expecting the highest level of
coordination between and among all levels of government and their
agencies, this failure to share and coordinate this information is
unacceptable," he said.
The NRC and Entergy Nuclear Northeast, owner of the plant, disclosed
Tuesday that a small amount of slightly radioactive water had been found
in cracks on the buried outside wall of the pool that holds nuclear
waste at the Indian Point complex in Buchanan, 35 miles north of midtown
Manhattan. The NRC announced it was undertaking a "special
Entergy spokesman Jim Steets said that while the water was first spotted
at the end of August, it was not until this week that tests confirmed it
was from the pool.
Other officials, including county executives Andrew Spano of Westchester
and C. Scott Vanderhoef of Rockland and Rep. Nita Lowey, also have
complained about the lack of notification.
Tuffey asked the NRC to send him copies of all its reports on the leak
and said that after consulting with Gov. George Pataki's office, "I am
calling for a full and open investigation."
NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan said notification of public officials was not
immediate because of the need to find out "the extent of the leakage and
its potential impact on the environment."
"We've been following these issues as they developed and only recently
concluded that they warranted consideration for a special inspection,"
C 2005 by The <http://www.wnbc.com/news/2455821/detail.html>
Press. All rights reserved.
State demands probe of Indian Point leak
By GREG CLARY
THE JOURNAL NEWS
(Original publication: September 22, 2005)
State officials are calling for "a full and open investigation"into the small leak of radioactive water at Indian Point 2 that was made
public Tuesday, three weeks after it was first discovered.
In a letter to Sam Collins, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's regional
administrator, the director of New York's State Emergency Management Office
called the failure of Entergy Nuclear Northeast and the NRC to share information
about the leak unacceptable and specifically noted that Gov. George Pataki supported the demand for a full review.
"Neither the state nor local governments was (sic) notified of this
incident until well after it was initially discovered," James Tuffey wrote
in a four-paragraph letter dated Tuesday and made public yesterday. "At a
time when the public is expecting the highest level of coordination between and
among all levels of government and their agencies, this failure to share and
coordinate this information is unacceptable."
Riverkeeper, an environmental group that has called for the closing of Indian
Point's two working nuclear reactors in Buchanan, also called on Pataki and U.S.
Sens. Charles Schumer and Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., to demand an
investigation of the spent fuel storage facilities at the plant. The leak is
believed to be coming from cracks in a spent fuel pool at Indian Point 2.
Pataki's office yesterday said Tuffey's letter to the NRC spoke for itself,
adding that the call for a full investigation had the governor's full support.
Schumer also asked for an investigation in a letter to NRC Chairman Nils J. Diaz and requested a public meeting in Westchester after the investigation
concludes. Clinton called for a Senate committee hearing on the leak and asked
Diaz for a private meeting to explain what she called "the serious
failure" of the federal agency to report the leak.
Entergy said it would fully cooperate with government officials looking into
the incident and why it wasn't made public earlier.
"We will support that effort in any way we can," said Jim Steets,
an Entergy spokesman. "We're happy to show them exactly what we have here
and why we're confident that we have no public safety concerns, not even a
NRC officials said they intended to respond to the concerns raised by the
State Emergency Management Office.
"Among other things, we will be providing full details of how we intend
to approach our Special Inspection of the spent fuel pool leakage and inviting
the state to observe those efforts," NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan wrote in an
e-mail to The Journal News. "Had we seen any evidence that worker or public
health and safety was in any way endangered, we would have responded
In announcing the leak Tuesday, the NRC and Entergy said the amount of water
discovered in the plant was small and didn't pose a health or safety risk. That
is why the information was not released earlier, they said.
Local emergency officials have been less concerned about the leak's size than
with Entergy and the NRC's failure to make the leak public sooner.
Entergy said the amount of leaking water
which showed trace elements of radioactive cesium and cobalt —
was between a half pint and a pint per day, and it was difficult to collect
enough sample material for accurate tests.
The amount of radiation involved is less than what is found on the average
home's smoke detector, Entergy officials said.
The leak has not been stopped, Entergy said, because engineers and other
experts still are trying to determine what is causing the release. Company
officials said the water probably came through cracks in the spent fuel storage
pool inside a building at the nuclear power plant that were discovered during a
construction project to reinforce walls.
The construction project is part of the company's effort to move spent
radioactive rods used to generate electricity from pools of water to a dry-cask
storage on the site by the end of next year. Earlier, deep-core borings taken in
six locations near the spent fuel pool showed no elevated levels of
CALLS FOR HEARINGS INTO LEAK AT INDIAN POINT
meeting with NRC Chairman to seek answers as to how the leak occurred and why
local officials not notified
– Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton today called on her Senate colleagues to
conduct an immediate oversight hearing into the recent leak of radioactive water
at Indian Point. In a letter to Senator Inhofe, Chairman of the Senate
Environment and Public Works Committee, Senator Clinton said she wanted a
hearing to determine why the leak occurred and why the Nuclear Regulatory
Commission (NRC) did not disclose the information sooner.
Senator also today requested a meeting with NRC Chairman Nils Diaz to seek an
explanation into the situation and the serious failure on the NRC’s part to
communicate with local officials following the leak.
deserve answers about what happened, whether they are safe, and why they
weren’t told about the problem sooner,” Senator Clinton said. “That is why
I am calling on my Senate colleagues to conduct hearings into this incident and
why I am requesting a meeting with NRC Chairman Diaz.”
Daily News - http://www.nydailynews.com
BY JIM FITZGERALD
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Wednesday, September 21st, 2005
A small amount of slightly radioactive water has leaked from the
spent-fuel pool at the Indian Point 2 nuclear power plant in Westchester,
officials said yesterday.
for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and for plant owner Entergy Nuclear
Northeast said the water was found several feet underground and posed no
danger to the public or to plant workers.
than a pint a day has been collected since the water was spotted in late
August, and soil samples show no radioactivity a few feet away, they said.
see nothing at this point that indicates any widespread
contamination," commission spokesman Neil Sheehan said.
said there was "nothing to the extent that anyone exposed to it would
suffer any severe health effects."
the NRC launched a special inspection, he said.
Point's critics said the leak was another indication that the plant should
40-foot-deep pool, which has a steel liner, holds the highly radioactive
fuel assemblies used in the nuclear reactor. The rods of fuel are
submerged to shield them from the air, and the water in the pool becomes
pool remained structurally sound, with the water found along hairline
cracks outside its walls during an excavation and reinforcement project,
Entergy spokesman Jim Steets said.
pool often has been criticized by opponents of the two Indian Point plants
in Buchanan, 35 miles north of midtown Manhattan, not because of leaks but
because they say it is not protected well enough from an air attack.
Rainwater, spokeswoman for the environmental group Riverkeeper, said the
leak shows "that neither the federal government nor Entergy is
capable of protecting the public from a potential radioactive release from
Assemblyman Richard Brodsky (D-Westchester), another longtime Indian Point
critic, said, "This continues a pattern of people telling us
everything is fine when it's not."
from Congressman Eliot Engel
the Bronx, Westchester, and Rockland
immediate release: Tuesday, September 20, 2005
Joseph O'Brien 718 796-9700; 917 880-0392 (cell)
SLAMS INDIAN POINT AND NRC OVER LEAKAGES
Congressman Eliot Engel today (9/20) slammed Entergy and the Nuclear Regulatory
Commission over leaks reported in the spent fuel pool at the Indian Point
Rep. Engel said, "Once again Entergy has shown that it is unable to keep a
credible safety record at Indian Point. And once again the Nuclear Regulatory
Commission has shown its willingness to side with Entergy rather than the people
who live near this plant. The NRC notified officials of the leak with a bland,
unlabeled press release that was spare on details."
The Congressman, noted that only last week a test of Indian Point sirens had
even Entergy admitting that they were inadequate and had to be quickly replaced.
Rep. Engel said, "Indian Point is a threat to the metropolitan area, that
is why I called for it to be shut down, the first member of Congress to do so.
The spent fuel pool is the most vulnerable part of the plant using hundreds of
thousands of gallons of water to cool radioactive fuel rods. The leaks are small
now but no one as yet knows how old the leakage is or even precisely where.
"The pools have stainless steel liners and are surrounded by concrete walls
several feet thick. It is totally unacceptable that there are leaks in them. The
NRC and Entergy must find the source of the leak or leaks and fix them as soon
as soon as possible. The people's safety is paramount."
IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Julie
September 20, 2005
STATEMENT ON SPENT FUEL POOL LEAK AT INDIAN POINT
- Today, Indian Point operator Entergy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission
(NRC) announced the discovery of a leak in one of the spent fuel pools at the
Indian Point 2 nuclear plant. Congresswoman Nita Lowey
(D-Westchester/Rockland) issued the following statement:
leak at Indian Point illustrates once again that this facility is not safe for
the residents of our region. The fact is the NRC and Entergy wouldn't know
of this leak at all if there had not been construction in the area of the
leaking pool. Clearly, both the systems to contain and detect radiological
material are failing at this facility.
also outraged that Entergy left the public in the dark about this leak for over
a week. Secrecy and radioactive material just don't mix. If we can't
trust Entergy to inform the public about leaks at Indian Point, how can we trust
them to maintain safety and security standards that will protect the community?
Point must be decommissioned for the health and safety of all New Yorkers before
a larger, more dangerous problem that can not be hidden from the public,
SEPT. 20, 2005
Executive Andy Spano re: leakage at Indian Point 2:
absolutely unbelievable that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Entergy
would keep us in the dark about a radioactive leak in the spent fuel pools at
Indian Point. I was notified today by Entergy of a leak they discovered about
two weeks ago. Entergy knew it; the NRC knew it. I had met with both entities
last Thursday but was never informed. Something is very wrong with this
system. If we’ve learned anything from Katrina, it’s that communication is
vital. I have made it clear to the NRC that I want to be kept up to date on
the progress of the investigation. This leak could be small; it could have
reached the Hudson; it could have been going on for years.
There’s too many questions and no answers. This is just one more reason why
I want Indian Point closed.”
calls on Governor Pataki and Senators Clinton and Schumer to Investigate Latest
Safety Problem at Indian Point
21, 2005 – Tarrytown, NY – Today, in light of
yesterday’s announcement that radioactive coolant has been leaking from Indian
Point 2’s spent fuel pool, Riverkeeper called on Governor Pataki and Senators
Clinton and Schumer to demand an in-depth, independent assessment of Indian
Point’s spent fuel storage system. The group also called for testing the
ground water in the neighborhoods around Indian Point as well as the waters and
sediments of the Hudson River in front of the plant.
is outrageous that we have yet another safety breach at Indian Point,” said
Alex Matthiessen, President of Riverkeeper. “The rate at which bad news
is coming out of Indian Point is dizzying. What is it going to take for New
York’s top political leaders to stand up and say, ‘enough is enough’?
county officials voiced their concerns over the NRC and Entergy’s two-week
delay in notifying local officials. Westchester County Executive Andy Spano
said, “It’s absolutely unbelievable that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission
and Entergy would keep us in the dark . . . Something is very wrong with this
system. If we’ve learned anything from Katrina, it’s that communication is
vital. This is just one more reason why I want Indian Point closed.”
Miller, spokesperson for Rockland County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef, said,
“County Executive Vanderhoef was notified a half hour before Entergy and the
NRC issued their press releases. The county executive should have been told well
in advance of the public and the press being notified.”
communication failures call into question the NRC’s ability to fulfill their
charge of protecting public health and safety and highlight concerns Riverkeeper
has raised regarding the company’s plans to seek a twenty-year license
the concrete walls of the spent fuel pool are already cracking, it seems more
than likely that other components of the plant are degraded as well,” said
Matthiessen. “In theory, this should suggest to the NRC that their pro forma
process for granting nuclear plant operators 20-year license extensions may not
be such a good idea and that maybe they should actually subject the 40-year old
facilities to a full review. Given the string of problems that continue to
plague Indian Point, the NRC must look at the structural and operational
integrity of the entire plant, as well as its emergency plans.”
cracks discovered in Indian Point fuel storage building
September 20, 2005
blasts Entergy for spent fuel pool leaks
soil and bedrock were removed from the floor of the Indian Point 2 fuel
storage building as part of a reinforcement project currently underway
in advance of the Indian Point Energy Center dry cask storage project, a
small amount of moisture was seen on the newly exposed pool wall.
The moisture was found along two horizontal hairline cracks on the
outside wall of the pool several feet below ground, inside the fuel
storage building. The spent-fuel pool has four-to-six feet thick walls
with a one-quarter inch stainless steel inner liner, and the fuel itself
is entirely underground.
“Structural and civil engineers inspected the cracks and determined
they are typical of cracks seen from shrinkage during post-construction
concrete curing," said Geoffrey Schwartz, Entergy manager of Indian
Point 2’s spent-fuel dry storage project. "The cracks do not
weaken the wall and the pool is structurally sound.”
Entergy engineers this week have determined that the moisture came from
the spent fuel pool, and may have come from a leak in the pool that was
repaired in 1992. Radiological engineers and chemists report that trace
amounts of radioactive cesium and cobalt were present in samples taken
from the wall. Both are present in the spent-fuel pool.
There is no radiological hazard to workers or the public and the
potential environmental impact is minimal. Soil samples taken three feet
from the area where the moisture was detected showed normal background
levels of radiation. Deep-depth core borings taken earlier as part of
the dry cask storage project in six locations near the pool showed no
elevated levels of radioactivity.
Entergy engineers and health physics technicians are continuing to
analyze soil samples and will be monitoring the area around the fuel
storage building in addition to the routine radiological monitoring done
on a regular basis.
Removal of spent fuel from the pool to storage casks is scheduled to
begin at the end of 2006.
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has been notified.
© 2005 Mid-Hudson News Network, a division of Statewide News Network,
Leakage Found At Indian Point
Plains, N.Y. -AP, Sept. 20, 2005)
- A small amount of slightly radioactive water has leaked from the
spent-fuel pool at the Indian Point 2 nuclear power plant, officials said
Spokesmen for the Nuclear
Regulatory Commission and for Entergy Nuclear Northeast, owner of the
Westchester County plant, said the water was found several feet
underground and was no danger to the public or to plant workers.
Less than a pint a day has
been collected since the water was spotted in late August and soil samples
show no radioactivity a few feet away, the officials said.
"We see nothing at this
point that indicates any widespread contamination," commission
spokesman Neil Sheehan said.
He said there was
"nothing to the extent that anyone exposed to it would suffer any
severe health effects." Nevertheless, the NRC launched a special
inspection, he said.
Indian Point's critics said
the leak was another indication that the plant should be closed, and
Westchester County Executive Andrew Spano said he should have been
informed long before Tuesday.
unbelievable that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Entergy would keep
us in the dark," he said. "This leak could be small; it could
have reached the Hudson (River); it could have been going on for
The 40-foot-deep pool, which
has a steel liner, holds the highly radioactive fuel assemblies that have
been used in the nuclear reactor. The rods of fuel are submerged to shield
them from the air, and the water in the pool becomes slightly radioactive
from the fuel.
Entergy said the pool
remained structurally sound.
The water was found along
hairline cracks on the outside of the pool's walls, which are 4 to 6 feet
thick, during an excavation and reinforcement project, Entergy spokesman
Jim Steets said. Entergy is converting its spent-fuel storage from pools
to dry casks, and the reinforcement was part of that plan, he said.
Test results showing that the
water was from the spent-fuel pool were not complete until Monday, he
The pool often has been
criticized by opponents of the two Indian Point plants in Buchanan, 35
miles north of midtown Manhattan, not because of leaks but because they
claim it is not protected well enough from an air attack. If fire burned
off the water, the radioactivity from the fuel rods could be catastrophic.
The pool is refilled
automatically if any water leaks out, however.
Alex Matthiessen, president
of the environmental group Riverkeeper, called the leak "yet another
safety breach at Indian Point" and demanded an investigation of the
plant's spent-fuel storage system and a test of the drinking water of the
communities around the plant.
Steets said the hairline
cracks are not necessarily the source of the leak because they were
typical of cracks that develop from normal concrete curing after
construction. He said there was even a chance that the newly discovered
water was left over from a leak that was repaired 13 years ago.
Discovery of the leak has not
interrupted the reinforcement project, Steets said. And it might not even
have to be repaired if the amount of water lost does not reach 25 to 30
gallons a day, he said.
Sheehan, the NRC spokesman,
agreed that "it remains to be seen" if a repair will be
(Copyright 2005 by The
Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
Point leaks small amount of tainted water
THE JOURNAL NEWS
(Original Publication: September 21, 2005)
BUCHANAN — Indian Point 2 workers found a
small leak of radioactive water in late August that company officials and
the Nuclear Regulatory Commission felt wasn't significant enough to be
made public, a move that angered county officials yesterday.
leak, which company officials announced yesterday, is between a half pint
and a pint per day and probably came through cracks in the spent-fuel
storage building at the nuclear power plant that were discovered during a
construction project to reinforce walls.
is no radiological hazard to workers or the public and the potential
environmental impact is minimal," officials from Entergy Nuclear
Northeast, which owns the plant, said in a prepared statement sent to
media outlets a little after 2 p.m. yesterday. "Soil samples taken
three feet from the area where the moisture was detected showed normal
background levels of radiation."
water contained trace amounts of radioactive cesium and cobalt, both of
which are present in the storage pools, company officials said.
Slobodien, one of the company's top on-site emergency experts, said the
amount of radiation was more than 100 times below levels detectible by the
average Geiger counter, less than the amount in a typical smoke detector.
little information available yesterday, the details of the leak worried
county officials some, but not as much as the lack of communication by the
company and the public entity overseeing it.
just met with Entergy, the NRC and the Department of Homeland Security
last week," said Westchester County Executive Andrew Spano.
"They let us know about the most minuscule things and didn't say
anything about a leak. When did they think they should tell us?"
officials said yesterday in a press release that they had already started
an investigation and had learned about the leak Sept. 2.
risk significance is low in terms of public health and safety," said
Neil Sheehan, a spokesman for the NRC. "We're talking about a small
amount of water. We're doing a special investigation because we want to
make sure that (Entergy) has their hands around the extent of the
cracking, the extent of the leakage, and determine exactly where this
construction project is part of the company's effort to change the storage
of radioactive rods used to generate electricity from water to a dry-cask
storage facility on the site in Buchanan by the end of next year.
officials said earlier deep-core borings taken in six locations near the
pool as part of the dry-cask storage project showed no elevated levels of
and civil engineers inspected the cracks and determined they are typical
of cracks seen from shrinkage during post-construction concrete
curing," said Geoffrey Schwartz, Entergy's manager of Indian Point
2's dry storage project. "The cracks do not weaken the wall, and the
pool is structurally sound."
engineers and health physics technicians are continuing to analyze soil
samples and will monitor the area around the fuel storage building in
addition to routine radiological monitoring.
said the agency had a public health official and a structural engineer
on-site already and was satisfied the 400,000-gallon pool was sound. He
said there was little likelihood that enough water had leaked to make it
into nearby water supplies.
an environmental group that has called for the closing of Indian Point's
two working nuclear plants, wasn't satisfied.
outrageous that we have yet another safety breach at Indian Point,"
said Alex Matthiessen, the organization's president. "When is it time
to say enough is enough?"
called on New York's U.S. senators — Charles Schumer and Hillary Rodham
Clinton — as well as Gov. George Pataki to launch a complete
investigation of the spent-fuel storage facility and to test the drinking
water supplies of the surrounding communities.
County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef expressed frustration similar to
Spano's about the leak, but said he was equally concerned about what else
might be wrong at the nuclear plants.
like this erodes confidence about getting timely information about Indian
Point, which is critical," Vanderhoef said. "But the second
question is, what else is there that we don't know about? Are there any
other tanks with cracks in them? This raises more questions than it
answers, and none of it is good."
to Inspect Small Leak From Fuel Pool at Indian Point
Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced yesterday that it was inspecting a
small radioactive leak from a spent-fuel pool at the Indian Point nuclear
power plant in northern Westchester County.
federal agency said the leak, which was discovered earlier this month during
excavation work, was minimal and "does not pose any immediate health or
safety concern" for the public or the plant's workers.
the commission said it would initiate a special inspection to review plans to
fix the leak by the company that owns the plant, Entergy Nuclear Northeast.
The inspection will also assess the potential environmental impact from the
elected officials expressed anger that they were notified only yesterday about
the leak from one of three spent-fuel pools on the site. C. Scott Vanderhoef,
the Rockland County executive, said the leak also raised questions about
Entergy's monitoring of the other pools on the site. "The degree of
confidence is certainly not improved," he said.
Vanderhoef also said that emergency officials from Rockland, Westchester and
Orange Counties decided yesterday to ask Entergy to conduct another test of
its siren system, following the failures and glitches that marked a test last
Wednesday. Among other things, a backup activation system that relies on radio
signals failed in Rockland County.
J. Spano, the Westchester County executive, said in a statement yesterday that
it was "absolutely unbelievable that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission
and Entergy would keep us in the dark about a radioactive leak" in the
spokesman for Entergy, Jim Steets, said that the company would have notified
county officials immediately had there been any potential for a threat to
a statement, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said the leak was found during
excavation work being done in conjunction with a project to store spent fuel
rods without immersing them in a pool. It said that workers had identified
several hairline cracks on concrete walls surrounding the pool for Indian
Point 2, one of the plant's two active reactors. "Slight seepage was
collected," the statement said. "It is not yet clear whether the
seepage is from a current or prior leak."
said that the leak may have stemmed from a leak in the pool that was repaired
in 1992. Engineers and chemists reported that trace amounts of radioactive
cesium and cobalt were present in samples taken from the wall; both are
present in the spent-fuel pool. Soil samples three feet from the wall showed
normal background levels of radiation, according to the company.
Leakage found at
spent-fuel pool at Indian Point nuclear plant
By JIM FITZGERALD
Associated Press Writer
September 20, 2005, 6:52 PM EDT
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- A small amount of slightly radioactive water has
leaked from the spent-fuel pool at the Indian Point 2 nuclear power
plant, officials said Tuesday.
Spokesmen for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and for Entergy
Nuclear Northeast, owner of the Westchester County plant, said the
water was found several feet underground and was no danger to the
public or to plant workers.
Less than a pint a day has been collected since the water was spotted
in late August and soil samples show no radioactivity a few feet away,
the officials said.
"We see nothing at this point that indicates any widespread
contamination," commission spokesman Neil Sheehan said.
He said there was "nothing to the extent that anyone exposed to
it would suffer any severe health effects." Nevertheless, the NRC
launched a special inspection, he said.
Indian Point's critics said the leak was another indication that the
plant should be closed, and Westchester County Executive Andrew Spano
said he should have been informed long before Tuesday.
"It's absolutely unbelievable that the Nuclear Regulatory
Commission and Entergy would keep us in the dark," he said.
"This leak could be small; it could have reached the Hudson
(River); it could have been going on for years."
The 40-foot-deep pool, which has a steel liner, holds the highly
radioactive fuel assemblies that have been used in the nuclear
reactor. The rods of fuel are submerged to shield them from the air,
and the water in the pool becomes slightly radioactive from the fuel.
Entergy said the pool remained structurally sound.
The water was found along hairline cracks on the outside of the pool's
walls, which are 4 to 6 feet thick, during an excavation and
reinforcement project, Entergy spokesman Jim Steets said. Entergy is
converting its spent-fuel storage from pools to dry casks, and the
reinforcement was part of that plan, he said.
Test results showing that the water was from the spent-fuel pool were
not complete until Monday, he said.
The pool often has been criticized by opponents of the two Indian
Point plants in Buchanan, 35 miles north of midtown Manhattan, not
because of leaks but because they claim it is not protected well
enough from an air attack. If fire burned off the water, the
radioactivity from the fuel rods could be catastrophic.
The pool is refilled automatically if any water leaks out, however.
Alex Matthiessen, president of the environmental group Riverkeeper,
called the leak "yet another safety breach at Indian Point"
and demanded an investigation of the plant's spent-fuel storage system
and a test of the drinking water of the communities around the plant.
Steets said the hairline cracks are not necessarily the source of the
leak because they were typical of cracks that develop from normal
concrete curing after construction. He said there was even a chance
that the newly discovered water was left over from a leak that was
repaired 13 years ago.
Discovery of the leak has not interrupted the reinforcement project,
Steets said. And it might not even have to be repaired if the amount
of water lost does not reach 25 to 30 gallons a day, he said.
Sheehan, the NRC spokesman, agreed that "it remains to be
seen" if a repair will be necessary.
Copyright 2005 Newsday Inc.
(914) 272-3545 - office
(914) 671-0457 - cell
New York--After soil and bedrock were removed from the floor of the Indian
Point 2 fuel storage building as part of a reinforcement project currently
underway in advance of the Indian Point Energy Center dry cask storage
project, a small amount of moisture was seen on the newly exposed pool wall.
moisture was found along two horizontal hairline cracks on the outside wall
of the pool several feet below ground, inside the fuel storage building. The
spent-fuel pool has four-to-six feet thick walls with a one-quarter inch
stainless steel inner liner, and the fuel itself is entirely underground.
Geoffrey Schwartz, Entergy manager of Indian Point 2’s spent-fuel dry
storage project, “Structural and civil engineers inspected the cracks and
determined they are typical of cracks seen from shrinkage during
post-construction concrete curing. The cracks do not weaken the wall and the
pool is structurally sound.”
Entergy engineers this week have determined that the moisture came from the
spent fuel pool, and may have come from a leak in the pool that was repaired
in 1992. Radiological engineers and chemists report that trace amounts of
radioactive cesium and cobalt were present in samples taken from the wall.
Both are present in the spent-fuel pool.
is no radiological hazard to workers or the public and the potential
environmental impact is minimal. Soil samples taken three feet from the area
where the moisture was detected showed normal background levels of
radiation. Deep-depth core borings taken earlier as part of the dry cask
storage project in six locations near the pool showed no elevated levels of
engineers and health physics technicians are continuing to analyze soil
samples and will be monitoring the area around the fuel storage building in
addition to the routine radiological monitoring done on a regular basis.
of spent fuel from the pool to storage casks is scheduled to begin at the
end of 2006.
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has been notified.
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