To the Editor:
Holtec Vice President Rich Burroni may not want us to use the term “dumping” about the company’s planned release of radioactive water into the Hudson River this summer. But whatever you call it, the point is that it’s a bad choice – for the seven communities that draw their drinking water from the Hudson, the people who swim, boat and fish in the River and the children who play along its banks – not to mention the fish and River life.
Several nuclear experts, including Ed Lyman, director of nuclear power safety at the Union of Concerned Scientists, and Arnie Gundersen, chief engineer of Fairewinds Energy Education, have stated that the best solution would be to leave the water where it is, in the fuel pools emptied of the fuel rods, allowing the tritium (which can’t be separated out of the water) to decay over time into non-harmful helium. Lyman has said, “Keep storing indefinitely and eventually the problem will solve itself.”
Federal regulations allow 60 years for decommissioning. Spent fuel could remain at the site even after the decommissioning is completed, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Buchanan Mayor, Theresa Knickerbocker, wants Holtec to complete the decommissioning in the shortest possible time so the site can be repurposed. Holtec wants to oblige her by cutting costs and cutting corners and keeping as much of the $2.4 billion in decommissioning funds it has received – from ratepayers over the years when the plant was operating – to line executives’ and shareholders’ pockets.
But the soil and groundwater on the property are contaminated, and it’s highly unlikely that Indian Point can be transformed for use as a park, shopping center or housing. The site should be remediated to the degree required, but residual radioactive elements to which people should not be exposed are likely to remain. The wisest adaptive reuse would be for a large, utility-scale solar array with battery storage, and possibly wind, since the Hudson is somewhat of a wind tunnel. The new owner could generate renewable energy at a site already ideal for grid interconnection, and provide revenue to the Town of Cortlandt, Village of Buchanan and the Hendrick Hudson School District.
So Holtec, leave the water where it is. It’s cheaper than moving it anywhere! And better for everyone up and down the Hudson River.