“The Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced yesterday that it was inspecting a small radioactive leak from a spent-fuel pool at the Indian Point nuclear power plant in northern Westchester County.
The federal agency said the leak, which was discovered earlier this month during excavation work, was minimal and “does not pose any immediate health or safety concern” for the public or the plant’s workers.
But the commission said it would initiate a special inspection to review plans to fix the leak by the company that owns the plant, Entergy Nuclear Northeast. The inspection will also assess the potential environmental impact from the leakage.
Still, elected officials expressed anger that they were notified only yesterday about the leak from one of three spent-fuel pools on the site. C. Scott Vanderhoef, the Rockland County executive, said the leak also raised questions about Entergy’s monitoring of the other pools on the site. “The degree of confidence is certainly not improved,” he said.
Mr. Vanderhoef also said that emergency officials from Rockland, Westchester and Orange Counties decided yesterday to ask Entergy to conduct another test of its siren system, following the failures and glitches that marked a test last Wednesday. Among other things, a backup activation system that relies on radio signals failed in Rockland County.
Andrew J. Spano, the Westchester County executive, said in a statement yesterday that it was “absolutely unbelievable that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Entergy would keep us in the dark about a radioactive leak” in the pools.
A spokesman for Entergy, Jim Steets, said that the company would have notified county officials immediately had there been any potential for a threat to public safety.
In a statement, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said the leak was found during excavation work being done in conjunction with a project to store spent fuel rods without immersing them in a pool. It said that workers had identified several hairline cracks on concrete walls surrounding the pool for Indian Point 2, one of the plant’s two active reactors. “Slight seepage was collected,” the statement said. “It is not yet clear whether the seepage is from a current or prior leak.”
Entergy said that the leak may have stemmed from a leak in the pool that was repaired in 1992. Engineers and chemists reported that trace amounts of radioactive cesium and cobalt were present in samples taken from the wall; both are present in the spent-fuel pool. Soil samples three feet from the wall showed normal background levels of radiation, according to the company.”
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