Cuomo orders probe into Indian Point tritium leak
New York’s Indian Point nuclear plant has reported “alarming” levels of radioactivity at three monitoring wells, but there is no immediate threat to public health, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Saturday.
Cuomo said he learned Friday that groundwater at the Buchanan facility, about 40 miles north of Manhattan in Westchester County, had been contaminated with tritium.
The radioactivity level had shot up almost 65,000 percent in one of three test wells, he said.
“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,” Cuomo said in a statement.
While acknowledging the elevated tritium levels in the three wells, an Entergy spokesman said in an email Saturday night: “... there is no health or safety consequence to the public, and releases are more than a thousand times below federal permissible limits. The tritium did not affect any source of drinking water onsite or offsite.”
Though “the effect of these elevated values is less than one-tenth of one percent of federal reporting guidelines, Entergy made voluntary notification to the NRC, state agencies and key stakeholders,” the spokesman’s email said.
Elevated levels of tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen, were found in two monitoring wells at the plant in 2014. Officials said then the contamination likely stemmed from an earlier maintenance shutdown, when radioactive water spilled out of a damaged pipe or drain.
Cuomo, who has argued the Indian Point Energy Center should be shuttered, said Saturday he had directed the Environmental Conservation and Health departments to investigate the current leak’s “likely duration, cause and potential impacts to the environment and public health.”
“This failure continues to demonstrate that Indian Point cannot continue to operate in a manner that is protective of public health and the environment,” the governor said.
The plant’s two reactors, which supply Westchester and New York City with about a quarter of their power, date back to the 1970s.