For Immediate Release: Thursday, January 26, 2023 
Contact: Ellen Weininger, Grassroots Environmental Education Email: 
914-422-3141 (O) or 646-210-0200 (C) 

Judy Allen, United for Clean Energy 
845-528-6643 (H) or 914-382-1193 (C) 

Press Release 

Health Experts Cry Foul Over Plans to Dump

Radioactive Wastewater into Hudson River 

(Buchanan, NY) A panel of health experts today is raising public alarm as Holtec  International, the owner conducting decommissioning operations at the Indian  Point Nuclear facility, is seeking permission to discharge one million gallons of  radioactive wastewater from the spent fuel cooling pools into the Hudson River  just south of Peekskill, NY. The spent fuel pool has cooled thousands of highly  radioactive fuel assemblies for more than 45 years and includes radionuclides  such as tritium. There has been no prior disclosure of what pollutants or  radioactive contaminants are in the wastewater or any public education on the  environmental safety and public health risks associated with any potential  discharges from the site. 

The Indian Point nuclear facility has been the source of myriad environmental  concerns for decades. The discharge of radioactive wastewater poses a serious  threat to public health and the entire ecosystem as well to the economy of the  region. The Hudson River is a tidal estuary, flowing in each direction, from New  York Harbor to the Troy dam and is the primary drinking water source for more  than 100,000 people in seven municipalities including the City of Poughkeepsie,  Village of Rhinebeck and the Towns of Esopus, Hyde Park, Lloyd, Poughkeepsie  and Rhinebeck and serves as the backup water supply for other communities along the river. It is also a popular destination for fishing, boating and other  recreational and tourism activities. 

A similar scenario is playing out in Massachusetts as local, state and federal  officials, local organizations and government agencies voice strong objections to Holtec discharging radioactive wastewater from the Pilgrim nuclear facility into  Cape Cod Bay as part of decommissioning operations there. Experts agree that  releasing radioactive contaminated water into the bay will undoubtedly have a  devastating environmental and economic impact all along the coastline. Scientific  studies demonstrate that pollutants in the wastewater can have significant effects on human health. Exposure to radioactive contaminants is linked with cancer,  miscarriages, genetic defects and other adverse health effects. 

Deconstruction and open air demolition activities are ongoing at the Indian Point  site despite the absence of dust mitigation protocols and tenting of structures to  contain airborne contaminants. The nearby Buchanan Verplanck Elementary  School, located less than 4000 feet from Indian Point, lacks air, water and soil  monitoring. Although a school air monitoring study has been under  consideration, a Request for Proposal for an air monitoring program was only  recently issued. Still, hundreds of students were allowed to return to the school  this past September. Parents still lack critical information regarding emergency  planning and preparedness, monitoring and protections. A middle school in  Piketon, Ohio was closed in 2019 due to radioactive contamination from a  nuclear enrichment facility conducting open air demolition a little less than 2  miles away. 

Dr. Helen Caldicott, acclaimed author, Nobel laureate and co-founder of  Physicians for Social Responsibility says, Physicists talk convincingly about  ‘permissible doses’ of radiation. They consistently ignore internal emitters — radioactive elements from nuclear power plants that are ingested or inhaled into  the body, giving very high doses to small volumes of cells. They focus instead on  external radiation from sources outside the body. Doctors know that there is no  such thing as a safe dose of radiation, and that harmful impacts are cumulative.  Children are ten to twenty times more vulnerable to the deleterious effects of  radiation than adults and little girls twice that of boys.” 

Eric Epstein, Coordinator, EFMR Monitoring at Three Mile Island, says,  “Independent radiation monitoring requires quality equipment, regularly  calibrated, and located at scientifically based locations. The data needs to be  analyzed and tracked to provide a constant, reliable, and trusted source of  information.” 

Diane Turco, Director of Cape Downwinders in Cape Cod, Massachusetts stated,  “From California to Massachusetts to New York to Michigan to New Mexico,  Indigenous and civil society groups are connecting in our efforts. Holtec has no  right to dump radioactive wastewater into our waterways or radioactive waste into  our communities.” 

In September, Physicians for Social Responsibility – New York submitted a letter  to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation regarding  potential discharges of wastewater from the Indian Point site by Holtec and  stated, “Exposure to toxic effluents including radionuclides poses a serious  health and economic risk to communities up and down the Hudson River and can  have negative impacts on real estate values. Quantification and characterization  of these discharges are needed in order to properly assess impacts. Independent expert analysis regarding potential health and  environmental impacts from these exposures is imperative. Indeed, under the  Endangered Species Act, independent environmental expertise is required prior  to the discharge of radioactive water.” 

The Indian Point nuclear facility is located in Peekskill in Westchester County,  about 25 miles north of New York City, the most densely populated region in the  United States. Peekskill is an environmental justice community that has been  disproportionately impacted by decades of heavily polluting industries and  infrastructure. The site’s reactors were shut down in 2020 and 2021. Indian Point  is also co-located on top of three large diameter, high pressure gas transmission  pipelines and is the only nuclear facility in the U.S. with gas transmission pipelines. Decommissioning at the site involves hazardous infrastructure, vast  amounts of radioactive waste and heavy deconstruction and excavation activities  and equipment in or near the pipelines’ unmarked right-of-ways (ROWs), which  could compromise pipeline integrity and result in a rupture with catastrophic  consequences. 

Other significant unresolved risks and issues remain including emergency  preparedness, spent fuel storage and long-term site contamination. These issues will be addressed in upcoming expert forums planned as part of this series. The  next forum will be held on Thursday, February 16, 2023 at 4pm.