2005 Leak / News

“Reactor waste moves official to call meeting” by Greg Clary

WHITE PLAINS — Local and federal elected officials hope a meeting today about Indian Point will provide answers about the seriousness of radioactive isotopes that have been found underground at the nuclear reactor site in Buchanan.

“Andy wants everybody in the same room,” said Susan Tolchin, Westchester County Executive Andrew Spano’s chief adviser. “These are the decision makers. They need to know what’s going on, to get the right information from the people who have it.”

Spano asked for representatives to come from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the state departments of Health and Environmental Conservation, and Entergy Nuclear Northeast, which owns Indian Point, to discuss the presence of tritium near the Hudson River and strontium-90 in one monitoring well onsite.

Entergy and the Commission have repeatedly stated there was no danger to the public, and reiterated that after strontium-90 was found in small amounts.

Tolchin said she expected staff members from many of the area’s congressional representatives to attend, as well as Rockland County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef.

Vanderhoef was succinct in his comments about the gathering.

“I’ll be attending the meeting to ask everybody a lot of questions,” he said.

‘Environmental assaults’

Meanwhile, Rep. Eliot Engel, D-Bronx, wrote a letter Friday asking the federal Environmental Protection Agency to conduct “an immediate investigation into the serious environmental problems” caused by the plants’ operation, citing the strontium-90 and tritium.

“These discoveries are only the latest in a list of environmental assaults on the region by the Indian Point Power Plant,” Engel wrote to the EPA. “The safety of our constituents warrants an immediate and comprehensive investigation by the Environmental Protection Agency.”

Engel’s spokeswoman said the letter had been circulated to other congressional representatives for the area, to see if they wanted to join in the request. Reps. Nita Lowey, D-Harrison, and Maurice Hinchey, D-Hurley, have joined the request.

EPA spokesman Dale Kemery said the agency had not seen the letter and couldn’t comment until officials there had reviewed it.

Entergy is sending Donald Mayer, who is overseeing the search for a leak in a 400,000-gallon spent fuel pool and leading the cleanup of any radiated water at the site, company spokesman Jim Steets said.

Pollution of Hudson

A week ago, the company told a working group of public and emergency officials in a biweekly meeting tritium had shown up within 150 feet of the Hudson and was likely seeping into the river.

State health and environmental officials were aware of the presence of strontium-90 as early as December, according to documents obtained by the environmental group Riverkeeper, which requested them under the state’s Freedom of Information law.

A spokeswoman for the state Department of Health said the agency’s director of environmental radiation protection would attend today’s meeting. DEC officials will attend as well, according to an agency spokeswoman.

NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan said his agency would send a branch chief from the division of reactor safety and the agency would provide “whatever information we can regarding our sample results and inspection efforts.”

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