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Legislators Propose Bill To Ban Release of Radioactive Waste Into Waterways

Updated: Feb 27, 2023

ALBANY- New York State Senator Peter Harckham and Assemblywoman Dana Levenberg announced that they have introduced legislation that will prohibit the discharge of any radiological agent into the waters of the state. The lawmakers introduced the proposal in response to an announcement by Holtec that it would seek to release radioactive wastewater from the decommissioned Indian Point nuclear power plant into the Hudson River.

Past owners of the Indian Point Energy Center, which opened in 1962, had been releasing wastewater into the Hudson River, a standard practice for power plants. At present, Holtec is fully permitted to discharge wastewater at the same rate it did when operating and does not need federal or state approval.

“After decades of tremendous efforts to clean up the Hudson River, the idea of anyone dumping radioactive water into this estuary, the economic lifeblood of our region, is simply outrageous,” said Harckham. The proposed legislation includes sanctions of $25,000 per day, then $50,000 per day for a second violation, and $150,000 per day per violation after that for any infractions of the rule.

Holtec Indian Point LLC and Holtec Decommissioning International LLC preside over the Indian Point nuclear facility in Westchester while continuing the decommissioning process. When it comes to the disposal of wastewater, there are not many options. First, wastewater could be transported from the nuclear power plant to another location for disposal. Second, the waste could be evaporated into the atmosphere, and third, as Holtec suggests, it could be released in small batches. According to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the wastewater that is permitted to be released has been filtered but does contain low levels of tritium. Tritium is a weak radioactive isotope of the element hydrogen that occurs naturally and during nuclear power plants’ operation.

Riverkeeper President Tracy Brown disagrees, stating “Holtec International’s reckless plan to discharge tritiated wastewater from the Indian Point Energy Center’s decommissioning site into the Hudson River in the coming months must not go forward as planned.”

Source: Mid-Hudson News

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