Plant downplaying danger from leaks

Entergy, the firm that owns and operates Indian Point’s reactors 2 and 3 is,
not surprisingly, downplaying the danger from the continuing water leaks at
the plant by not making a clear distinction between the two substances found
in that radioactive water.

Though the radiation from both substances found in water emanating from the
plant, tritium and strontium 90, is comparably weak, their potential for
harm is, nevertheless, quite different:

Tritium, an isotope of hydrogen, is found naturally in water, and passes
from the human body relatively quickly. In contrast, strontium 90 is
chemically similar to calcium, an element essential to normal function in
mammals. Exposure to it inevitably results in its taking up long-term
residence in bones and teeth and, with a radioactive half-life of nearly 30
years, its presence can lead to serious cancers. Strontium 90 also readily
enters the food chain, replacing calcium in the milk of affected domestic

It’s bad enough that spent-fuel pools at U.S. nuclear reactors are the
facilities most vulnerable to terrorism. The citizens of this country and
county should not also have to contend with the subtle terrorism of false
reassurances from plant operators and compliant Nuclear Regulatory
Commission bureaucrats, who seem all to eager to gloss over these leaks of
radioactive H2O.

AL Hern, Mohegan Lake

Public must know extent of leaks

Regarding “Radioactive water may be following cracks in bedrock to Hudson,”
March 1 story: As a waste pool at Indian Point continues to leak radioactive
strontium and tritium, it’s important for the public to know that strontium
90 is a very potent, man-made isotope that attaches to bones and teeth,
where it kills and injures cells. During the bomb-testing era, the U.S.
government collected baby teeth from the public and tested them for
strontium 90 levels. The resulting data revealed unacceptable levels and led
to the discontinuation of the above-ground bomb testing program in this

Recent medical journal articles document the results of current testing for
strontium 90 in local baby teeth. In the late ’90s, hundreds of citizens in
Westchester, Putnam and Rockland counties filled out questionnaires and sent
children’s baby teeth in special envelopes. Analysis revealed average
strontium 90 levels to be 36 percent greater than in other New York
counties, and rose 56 percent from the late 1980s to the late 1990s. For
more information about strontium 90 in local baby teeth, go to

Strontium 90 and other radioactive chemicals are not just leaked into the
ground, but routinely released into the air during normal operation of the
Indian Point reactors. They enter human bodies through breathing and food,
and are especially harmful to fetuses, infants and children. Local residents
have the right to know how much radioactivity Indian Point releases, how
much enters their bodies, and what the true health risks are. A terrorist
attack or major radiological accident is not necessary for the plants to
harm people.

Margo Schepart, Yorktown Heights

Accidental shutdown raises questions

” ‘The contractor was building a scaffolding along the wall of the huge
tower about 2:30 p.m. when he bumped an industrial-sized light switch 10
feet off the ground and cut off power to the control rods,’ said Jim Steets,
a spokesman for Entergy Nuclear Northeast, the plant’s owner.

” ‘There’s no cover over the switch because it’s 10 feet off the ground,’
Steets said.” (The Journal News, March 2.)

Excuse me? An industrial switch 10 feet off the ground that shuts down the
control rods? Is there a sign under it that says “In case of emergency, run,
find ladder!” or are all Entergy employees capable of jumping to this height
in situations of extreme stress?

Also, and more critically, what is a contractor doing unsupervised around
switches that can shut down the nuclear reactor, anyway? Are there any
switches in the area that he might “accidentally” bump into that could shut
off the water flow? Or create a meltdown?

Is this security?

Stephen Walfish, White Plains”

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