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Dumping 1M gallons of radioactive water in Hudson is ‘best option,’ per Indian Point nuclear plant owner

Gothamist, Rosemary Misdary, Feb 18, 2023 

The owner of the defunct Indian Point nuclear facility says it’s planning to dump about 1 million gallons of radioactive water into the Hudson River. The move, which the company describes as the “best option” for the waste, could happen as early as August.

A Feb. 2 meeting of the Indian Point Decommissioning Oversight Board heated up when the plant’s owner Holtec International disclosed the plan as part of its lengthy closure process. The contaminated water could just naturally — and safely — decay in storage onsite.

Environmental groups and residents are also concerned this could harm their community, as the Hudson River is already a federally designated toxic Superfund site. Rich Burroni, Holtec’s site vice president for Indian Point, agreed to give the community at least a month’s notice before any radioactive discharge into the Hudson River begins.

But Holtec is well within its legal rights and permits to discharge waste at the same rate as it did when operating, and it does not need federal, state or local approval to dump the contaminated water. This practice is standard for nuclear plants.

Nearly two years have passed since Indian Point shut down its third and final reactor in the village of Buchanan, located on the Hudson’s east bank about 30 miles north of Midtown. Toward the end of its 59-year lifespan, the plant had more than a 2,000 megawatt capacity — providing electricity to more than 2 million homes, or 13% of the state’s power demand.

Holtec received about $2.4 billion in funds, shouldered by ratepayers, to decommission the plant. And it wants to do so in 12 years, which is in accordance with town’s wishes to repurpose the site. But Holtec and the surrounding community are still debating what to do with Indian Point’s radioactive remnants.

“Yes, you can do it [discharge radioactive water]. It’s normal practice. But should you when you have other options that might avoid this additional release of radioactivity to the environment?” said Edwin Lyman, director of nuclear power safety at the Union of Concerned Scientists, a nonprofit science advocacy organization. “It may only cause a low risk to the environment as far as we know, but there are other options here, and why not try to minimize the harm?”……………………………………………

Options are limited when it comes to disposing of radioactive waste, and only three methods are typically used for tainted water. ……………………………………………………..

Lyman said a fourth option would be leaving the radioactive water onsite to decay over time into non-harmful helium. “Keep storing indefinitely and eventually the problem will solve itself,” he said.

For tritium, this process would take just over 24 years. Lyman considers this the best option because it minimizes the effects on the environment. It’s also viable because other radioactive material — spent fuel generated from operating the plant — remains onsite and will take hundreds of thousands of years to decay. This material includes plutonium and uranium.

Lyman said this waste has no place to go and will be there for a long time, so there’s no rush to deal with the radioactive water while spent fuel continues to sit on the property. Most radioactive waste is stored where it is generated. And federal regulations allow 60 years for decommissioning. That spent fuel could remain at the site even after the decommissioning is completed, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

“In the long term, it’s going to degrade, and the only way to protect the environment from that degradation is to bury it in a deep geological repository,” Lyman said…………………………………..

The next meeting for the Indian Point Decommissioning Oversight Board will take place on April 27 at 6 p.m. at Cortlandt Town Hall. Participants have the option to attend virtually.


February 18, 2023 - Posted by | environment, USA, wastes

1 Comment »

  1. The usa is an ugly imperial bully. Three Mile Island. Biden and his neoconservative demons, are chomping at the bit, for nuclear war and nuclear catastrophe in Ukraine. Trump had neoconservative insects as well. Meanwhile one of the worst industrial catastrophes in recent history, occured in Palestine Ohio. Unions were put down by biden, after they said rail safety is getting worse. The rail accident is also legacy of Trump deregulation, and Trump would have put down the rail strike, too.
    Bidens justice department is siding with the rail corporation, that caused the accident, like the the Japanese did with Fukushima. The media ignores the accident and, says Trump and Biden are the only qualified candidates for 2024. Biden would surely dny a nuke catastrophe like the Japanese, and Trump would. There are so many homeless in the usa its sickening. The media covers that up as well. Discusting.

    Comment by Annie sing | February 18, 2023 | Reply

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