New York governor Andrew Cuomo recently called for an investigation after Indian Point, a nuclear power plant on the Hudson River, reported a leak of radioactive material flowing into the groundwater. Now, new samples taken from the local groundwater show that contamination levels are 80% higher than previous samples, prompting experts to claim this leak is spreading in “a disaster waiting to happen” and calling for the plant to be shut down completely. The Indian Point nuclear power plant is located just 25 miles north of New York City, and it’s a crucial source of of power for over 23 million people living in the greater NYC metropolitan region.
The Indian Point plant is located upriver from NYC, and it’s a serious threat to the whole region, according to watchdog group Riverkeeper. “It’s a disaster waiting to happen and it should be shut down,” Paul Gallay, president of Riverkeeper, told CBS News. Indian Point has been operating for around 40 years, and generates about 25 percent of the electric power for Westchester and New York City. The plant, owned by Entergy, is leaking tritium, a radioactive substance. Three of the forty Indian Point wells showed an increase in radioactive material, and one of the wells showed a 65,000 percent increase. Entergy states that this leak will not harm local inhabitants, as the groundwater is located on their property. John J. Kelly, former director of licensing for Indian Point and a certified healthy physicist, said that tritium is a radioactive form of hydrogen that is found naturally. “It’s more of a regulatory problem than an environmental problem,” said Kelly.
This isn’t the first problem at the plant, though. Power failures, fires and an alarm failure have all plagued the site in the past year. “This latest failure at Indian Point is unacceptable and I have directed Department of Environmental Conservation Acting Commissioner Basil Seggos and Department of Health Commissioner Howard Zucker to fully investigate this incident and employ all available measures, including working with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, to determine the extent of the release, its likely duration, cause, and potential impacts to the environment and public health,” Cuomo said in an official statement.
“For over 40 years, Entergy’s Indian Point nuclear facilities have been damaging the coastal resources of the Hudson River estuary…New York is home to four commercial nuclear facilities. When properly located and safely functioning, these facilities are regarded as important generators of electricity… However, by virtue of its location as well as its operations, the Department cannot make the same finding as to Indian Point,” Secretary of State Cesar Perales said.
Indian Point has experienced other leaks in the past, and the investigation may influence whether the power plant continues to operate in the future.