“BUCHANAN — Federal nuclear regulators confirmed Tuesday afternoon that radioactive water is showing up in storm sewer lines and recently dug wells near Indian Point 2 as engineers try to determine the cause of a four-month leak there and its presence in the site’s groundwater.
A spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said elevated tritium levels were found in manholes and testing wells in the area of Indian Point 2, where radioactive water has leaked as much as two liters a day since the end of August.
Spokesman Neil Sheehan said the tritium levels found in the new wells and the sewer manholes do not constitute a public health concern because they are not in drinking water sources, but they exceed acceptable Environmental Protection Agency standards.
Sheehan also said a well dug near the Hudson River to test for tritium showed levels of tritium below the EPA’s acceptable levels of 20,000 picocuries/liter of water and that the amount of tritium released by the company into the Hudson River still falls within acceptable discharge levels.
Two hairline cracks at the base of a 400,000-gallon spent-fuel tank were found Aug. 22 during an excavation to put in a new crane to handle spent-fuel assemblies as they’re being moved in and out of water for storage. Tritium, which emits a relatively weak radiation that can increase the risk of cancer, is routinely found in the water used in the 40-foot-deep tanks.
Results not unexpected
A spokesman for Entergy Nuclear Northeast, which owns and operates the two working nuclear reactors at Indian Point, said the elevated levels in the manholes on site were not unexpected because of the sewer pipes’ proximity to the testing wells.
Entergy spokesman Jim Steets said the leaking water, which has been captured by a specially designed system since early September, has all but dried up.
“We’re getting an ounce over several days now,” Steets said.
The company hasn’t determined the cause of the leak. Entergy workers and consultants have undertaken a number of steps to find and stop it, including sending a diver into the tank to probe for flaws. Steets said the company would drill more wells and continue to search for the source and reach of the tritium.
‘‘We have a couple more pieces of the puzzle with this latest information, but they’re still not telling us enough,‘‘ Steets said. ‘‘By themselves, they’re not that conclusive.‘‘
Local elected officials continued to hammer the commission and Entergy about the leak and its potential health hazards.
“The NRC needs to prove it can protect surrounding communities and the Hudson River from this leak,” said Rep. Sue Kelly, R-Katonah, who asked commission Chairman Nils Diaz at a Dec. 8 meeting to intensify the agency’s investigation of the leak. “We’re not seeing the progress we should be in containing this problem.””