“Questions to ask:

Will a desalination water plant make Hudson River water drinkable?

If a water treatment plant is built on the banks of the Hudson River right across from the Indian Point Nuclear Power plants, will water holding radioactive isotopes regularly discharged from the power plant into the river, be made drinkable?

The environmental group, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater doesn’t think a de-sal plant can filter out Indian Point’s radioactive discharges. The desalination plant is expected to be built by United Water New York in Haverstraw, Rockland County, and the application is being reviewed by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

Clearwater is arguing that Indian Point’s owner, Entergy, shouldn’t have their license renewed until a water safety study is done. Entergy has applied to extend the operating license for reactor units 2 and 3 for 20 more years. The application is in the final stages of being reviewed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB).

“They need to look at the transport of radioactive isotopes in the Hudson River and they haven’t done that,” said Manna Jo Greene, environmental director at Clearwater about Entergy’s license renewal application. “Can the isotopes move across the river? Can they be removed using reverse osmosis?”

Reverse osmosis is an expensive filtering process which extracts out radioactive Strontium-90, which is a particulate. Extracting tritium is more difficult because it is a radioactive form of hydrogen.

The desalination plant will draw up to 10 million gallons of river water daily and could take in up to 20 million gallons per day for 12 hours during the low tide.

The majority of contentions against Entergy’s re-licensing application were filed last year with the ASLB who have accepted contentions filed by the DEC, Riverkeeper, Clearwater and Attorney General’s office.

This latest contention filed by Clearwater would come under “new and significant” information. Neil Sheehan of the NRC said the plans for the desalination plant have been known for quite some time. “It was discussed in our Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the application. In any case, the ASLB judges would need to consider the motion to submit a new contention and rule on it.”

Question to ask: When will the ASLB judges rule on Clearwater’s contention?

Sheehan’s answer: “The judges rule when they’re ready; there is no exact time frame.””

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