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November IP2 transformer explosion led to Spill into Hudson River

Ossining, NY – December 2, 2010 – Riverkeeper announced today that last month’s electrical transformer explosion at Indian Point resulted in thousands of gallons of oil being released into the environment and the Hudson River. Though it was not disclosed to the public, Entergy Corporation, the owner of Indian Point, called in a report several hours after the transformer fire to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) notifying the state that oil from the transformer had been released as a result of the event. By the next day, involved officials had ascertained that the “entire contents” of the 20,000 gallon capacity transformer had “been lost,” with oil flowing into the site’s storm drain system and discharge canal, and to the Hudson River. According to DEC’s spill reports, oil sheens were repeatedly observed in the Hudson River in the days following the transformer explosion, and the Coast Guard was called in for support.

“This oil spill, and Entergy’s failure to notify the public of it are shocking reminders of this corporation’s indifference to Indian Point’s true impacts on the Hudson River, and its disregard for transparency and accountability to the public,” stated Paul Gallay, Executive Director and Hudson Riverkeeper. “Riverkeeper fully expects DEC to take enforcement action against Entergy for its latest assault on the Hudson, an invaluable natural resource that belongs to the public, not to Entergy to use as its private dumping ground.”

Riverkeeper learned of the spill through its efforts to investigate the cause of the transformer explosion on November 7. “This latest incident should serve as a wake-up call to anyone who believes Entergy is a good corporate neighbor who can be trusted to operate Indian Point safely,” said Phillip Musegaas, Riverkeeper’s Hudson River Program Director. “From the steam generator tube rupture and yearlong shutdown in 2000, to the news of radioactive water leaks in 2005, to two transformer explosions in the last three years, Indian Point has a shameful history of concealing the real effects of its operational mishaps from the public.”

After the incident, private contractors were hired by Entergy to contain and remediate the oil, yet, as of November 21, 2010, less than 10,000 gallons of oil had been recovered, and it is still not clear how much oil ended up contaminating the river. There are also indications that Entergy made it extremely difficult for DEC spill response personnel to access the site after the accident in order to assess the magnitude of the spill.

Prior to learning of the oil spill, Riverkeeper formally called for an independent investigation to determine the cause of the latest transformer incident and to review the adequacy of Entergy’s maintenance procedures. The degraded component which caused the explosion on November 7 was apparently the same type of component which failed and led to the transformer explosion in 2007.”

To read the complete release, click the link below: