State Eyes NY Nuke Leak

Wednesday, February 10, 2016 @ 01:02 PM gHale

The state of New York will investigate the Indian Point Energy Center after Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he learned that “radioactive tritium-contaminated water” leaked into the groundwater at the nuclear facility in Westchester County.

Cuomo, in a letter Saturday to the state Health Department and the Department of Environmental Conservation, called for the probe after he said the Buchanan, NY, plant’s owner, Entergy Corp., reported “alarming levels of radioactivity” at three monitoring wells.

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While the facility reported the contamination has not migrated off site and did not pose an immediate public health threat, Cuomo said the incident requires a full investigation.

“Our first concern is for the health and safety of the residents close to the facility and ensuring the groundwater leak ‎does not pose a threat,” said Cuomo, who lives in New Castle, Westchester County.

The elevated levels of tritium are more than a thousand times below federal limits, and there is no health risks to the public, said Entergy spokesperson Jerry Nappi. Drinking water sources onsite and offsite were did not suffer from the leak.

“While elevated tritium in the ground onsite is not in accordance with our standards, there is no health or safety consequence to the public,” Nappi said.

Entergy voluntarily notified the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), state agencies and stakeholders about the elevated levels of tritium in the monitoring wells, Nappi said.

Tritium, which is a radioactively weak isotope of hydrogen, likely reached the ground at Indian Point during recent work activities, Nappi said. Groundwater monitoring wells ended up installed around the nuclear plant to provide early detection of any elevated levels of radionuclides in the ground.

Buchanan Mayor Theresa Knickerbocker said Entergy informed local officials on Friday about the elevated levels of tritium. Entergy, Knickerbocker said, has “always been upfront” and kept us “informed about what’s going on over there.”

Residents were not contacted about the recent finding because Entergy officials said there was no threat to public safety, Knickerbocker said. “My concern is for public health and safety,” she said, but we were assured “there was not a threat to public health or safety.”