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Rally Set To Protest Radioactive Wastewater Discharge In Hudson River

The Cortlandt supervisor said the rally will go on in spite of Holtec International’s decision to pause the release of treated effluent.

Michael Woyton,Patch StaffVerified Patch Staff Badge

Posted Fri, Apr 21, 2023 at 2:44 pm ET|Updated Fri, Apr 21, 2023 at 4:14 pm ET

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A rally to protest the release of radioactive wastewater into the Hudson River is set for May 6.A rally to protest the release of radioactive wastewater into the Hudson River is set for May 6. (Entergy)

VERPLANCK, NY — A rally to protest plans to discharge radioactive water from the Indian Point nuclear plant into the Hudson River is scheduled in the town of Cortlandt.

The Rally to Save the River will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 6 at the Cortlandt Waterfront Park, 77 Riverview Ave. in Verplanck.

Cortlandt Town Supervisor Dr. Richard Becker said the rally is going forward in spite of the decision by Holtec International to pause the planned discharge of treated effluent from the site’s spent fuel pools in early May.

In a statement issued April 13, a spokesman for Holtec said the company hoped the “voluntary pause will be viewed positively as an indication of our willingness to work together with the State and with the surrounding community” to respond to questions that have been raised about the process.

Becker told Patch that the reversal of plans to discharge radioactive wastewater was no reason to pull the plug on the rally.

“The Town of Cortlandt is proceeding full steam ahead with the Rally to Save the River,” he said.

“The Town Board of Cortlandt remains convinced that this is an ill-conceived and risky proposition” to pollute the river with radioactive material, Becker said.

“We are calling for a delay in the discharge of radioactive water until this can be fully vetted by the [Nuclear Regulatory Commission], EPA and the state DEC,” he said.

It is the position of the town, Becker said, that, in no case, should this discharge be allowed without a least a year of scientific investigation to determine whether there are other options, such as creating long-term storage tanks for the water, shipping the radioactive water to the middle of the ocean or other as of yet unexplored options.

Patrick O’Brien, director of governmental affairs and communications for Holtec, said in response to Patch’s request for comment that the town of Cortlandt was one of the signatories of the agreement transferring the Indian Point’s license from Entergy to Holtec. It was also signed by Holtec, Entergy, New York state, Westchester County, the village of Buchanan, Hendrick Hudson School District, the Public Utility Law Project, Riverkeeper and the New York attorney general’s office.

The agreement stated, in part, that “All signatories agree that the Joint Proposal is consistent with sound environmental, social and economic policies of the Commission and the State.”

O’Brien said the option for liquid discharge is based on safe science and years of environmental data, not just from Indian Point, but throughout the nuclear power and medical industries.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission sets the annual dose limit of radiation to the public at 100 millirems. The EPA sets theirs at 25 millirems, while Indian Point’s is even more conservative at 3 millirems whole body dose over a one-year period, O’Brien said. The 2021 Indian Point annual report said the total dose to the public from the plant’s liquid releases was 0.011 millirem — 0.3 percent of the allowable site release.

Organizers of the rally said Dar Williams, Brian McGrath, Fred Gillen Jr. and Tom Chapin will be featured artists. Environmental organizations such as Riverkeeper, Clearwater, Scenic Hudson are scheduled to participate.

Elected officials confirmed to attend include Westchester County Executive George Latimer, state Senator Pete Harckham and Assemblywoman Dan Levenberg.

There will be a flotilla on the Hudson River comprised of dozens of yacht clubs, rowing associations, fishermen, kayakers and others.

Activities for children will include face painting, hula hoops and other games.

Becker said the rally is anticipated to have thousands in attendance.

The rain date for the rally is Sunday, May 7.