EnvironmentThe Northern Westchester Examiner

State Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Ban Release of Waste in Hudson

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State Senator Pete Harckham and Assemblywoman Dana Levenberg have introduced legislation that will prohibit the discharge of any radiological agent any waterbodies in New York State.

The proposed legislation was initiated when plans were announced by Holtec to release radioactive wastewater from the decommissioned Indian Point nuclear power plant into the Hudson River.

Past owners of the Indian Point Energy Center, which opened in 1962, had been releasing radioactive wastewater into the Hudson for decades. Through federal, state and local investments and actions, the river is considered much cleaner today than it once was.

“After decades of tremendous efforts to clean up the Hudson River, the idea of anyone dumping radioactive water into this estuary, the economic lifeblood of our region, is simply outrageous,” Harckham remarked. “No person, corporation or government has the right to recklessly pollute New York State’s waters, and the mere idea that this is being contemplated is troubling. While the decommissioning of a nuclear power plant is a complex issue, there can be no rationale for releasing radioactive waste into the Hudson.”

“Too much is still unknown about the possible impacts of discharging radioactive waste into our waterways,” said Levenberg. “We wouldn’t want people to feel inhibited in their recreation or in moving to our communities because of the stigma of radioactive wastewater. And ultimately, the State of New York should have control over what is released into our waterways.”

The legislation, which was developed in consultation with environmental advocates, including Riverkeeper, includes a stipulation that violations would be met with fines of $25,000 per day, then $50,000 per day for a second violation and $150,000 per day per violation thereafter.

“Holtec International’s reckless plan to discharge tritiated wastewater from the Indian Point Energy Center’s decommissioning site into the Hudson River in the coming months must not go forward as planned. The state has a clear role to play in protecting the health and economic interests of its citizens and natural resources and this legislation introduced by Senator Pete Harckham and Assemblymember Dana Levenberg does just that,” said Riverkeeper President Tracy Brown. “Riverkeeper strongly supports this legislation to prohibit discharges of radiological agents into the state’s waters.”

Holtec is proposing to release one million gallons of wastewater from the spent fuel cooling pools as early as August.

Holtec officials have maintained any release of treated water from nuclear power plants is regulated by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

“We have permits from both the EPA and State of New York that govern these treated releases and these continue to occur according to our permits,” said Patrick O’Brien, Director of Community Affairs and Communication for Holtec. “All nuclear power plants are required to have NRC-approved procedures that require treatment, such as filtration of the water to reduce the radioactivity to levels as low as reasonably achievable.”

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