2005 Leak / News

“State demands probe of Indian Point leak” by Greg Clary

“BUCHANAN — State officials are calling for “a full and open investigation”into the small leak of radioactive water at Indian Point 2 that was made public Tuesday, three weeks after it was first discovered.

In a letter to Sam Collins, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s regional administrator, the director of New York’s State Emergency Management Office called the failure of Entergy Nuclear Northeast and the NRC to share information about the leak unacceptable and specifically noted that Gov. George Pataki supported the demand for a full review.

“Neither the state nor local governments was (sic) notified of this incident until well after it was initially discovered,” James Tuffey wrote in a four-paragraph letter dated Tuesday and made public yesterday. “At a time when the public is expecting the highest level of coordination between and among all levels of government and their agencies, this failure to share and coordinate this information is unacceptable.”

Riverkeeper, an environmental group that has called for the closing of Indian Point’s two working nuclear reactors in Buchanan, also called on Pataki and U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer and Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., to demand an investigation of the spent fuel storage facilities at the plant. The leak is believed to be coming from cracks in a spent fuel pool at Indian Point 2.

Pataki’s office yesterday said Tuffey’s letter to the NRC spoke for itself, adding that the call for a full investigation had the governor’s full support.

Schumer also asked for an investigation in a letter to NRC Chairman Nils J. Diaz and requested a public meeting in Westchester after the investigation concludes. Clinton called for a Senate committee hearing on the leak and asked Diaz for a private meeting to explain what she called “the serious failure” of the federal agency to report the leak.

Entergy said it would fully cooperate with government officials looking into the incident and why it wasn’t made public earlier.

“We will support that effort in any way we can,” said Jim Steets, an Entergy spokesman. “We’re happy to show them exactly what we have here and why we’re confident that we have no public safety concerns, not even a worker hazard.”

NRC officials said they intended to respond to the concerns raised by the State Emergency Management Office.

“Among other things, we will be providing full details of how we intend to approach our Special Inspection of the spent fuel pool leakage and inviting the state to observe those efforts,” NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan wrote in an e-mail to The Journal News. “Had we seen any evidence that worker or public health and safety was in any way endangered, we would have responded accordingly.”

In announcing the leak Tuesday, the NRC and Entergy said the amount of water discovered in the plant was small and didn’t pose a health or safety risk. That is why the information was not released earlier, they said.

Local emergency officials have been less concerned about the leak’s size than with Entergy and the NRC’s failure to make the leak public sooner.

Entergy said the amount of leaking water — which showed trace elements of radioactive cesium and cobalt — was between a half pint and a pint per day, and it was difficult to collect enough sample material for accurate tests.

The amount of radiation involved is less than what is found on the average home’s smoke detector, Entergy officials said.

The leak has not been stopped, Entergy said, because engineers and other experts still are trying to determine what is causing the release. Company officials said the water probably came through cracks in the spent fuel storage pool inside a building at the nuclear power plant that were discovered during a construction project to reinforce walls.

The construction project is part of the company’s effort to move spent radioactive rods used to generate electricity from pools of water to a dry-cask storage on the site by the end of next year. Earlier, deep-core borings taken in six locations near the spent fuel pool showed no elevated levels of radioactivity.”

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