A large crowd turned out last week for a public forum in front of the Indian Point Decommissioning Oversight Board in Cortlandt.
Two hours before the session, a rally was held outside Linda D. Puglisi Town Hall where environmental activists and local leaders called on Gov. Kathy Hochul to sign a bill passed by the State Legislature in June that prohibited the dumping of radioactive waste from decommissioning nuclear power plants into the Hudson River.
That legislation, sponsored by Senator Pete Harckham (D/South Salem) and Assemblywoman Dana Levenberg (D/Ossining), was spearheaded by concerns raised over Holtec International’s plans to release 45,000 gallons of radioactive wastewater from Indian Point’s spent fuel rods.
With that dumping currently planned about Sept. 15, Hochul is being urged to sign the bill into law or Holtec can move ahead.
Tom Congdon, chairman of the Decommissioning Oversight Board, who also serves as Executive Deputy and Deputy Chair of the New York State Department of Public Service, came to Hochul’s defense when questioned at the meeting.
“The governor’s office is doing due diligence on the legislation,” he said. “There were hundreds of bills passed last month. All are currently under review.”
Several speakers also took issue with some representatives of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, who explained the results of the testing of the radioactive wastewater Holtec would release 12 days prior would not be known until the wastewater already is in the river.
“Dumping should not be allowed until the results of the testing are in. That’s simple logic,” Susan Shapiro asserted. “You should have the results before you allow dumping. It’s not a big ask.”
Holtec officials have maintained all nuclear power plants discharge treated effluent containing low levels of radiological effluent, which is regulated by the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Environmental Protection Agency.
The company has also stressed the practice of dumping the wastewater into the river from Indian Point has been occurring for the last 60 years and is the best alternative for handling the discharge at the 240-acre site in Buchanan.
The bill recognizes that communities with interests along the Hudson River are highly concerned that radiological substances put into the river as part of the decommissioning process will have both short- and long-term effects on local real estate values and economic development.
A broad coalition of bipartisan legislators supported the bill, as did New York’s federal delegation members, a host of municipalities and the state’s top environmental groups.
“If Holtec makes a mistake, we’ll call them on it,” said Paul Krohn, Deputy in the Division of Operating Reactor Safety in Region I for the NRC.
“Water is monitored as it’s being released,” explained Bruce Watson, Chief of the Reactor Decommissioning Branch, Division of Decommissioning Uranium Recovery and Waste Programs for the NRC. “Water is released in batches. There are requirements where the release can be done.”
Meanwhile, John Sipos of the state Attorney General’s Office said the final spent fuel rods at Indian Point were scheduled to be transferred to dry cask storage by the end of the year.
“That is the last large risk remaining to the community,” Sipos said.