Environmental Impacts

The entire nuclear fuel chain involves the release of radioactivity that contaminates the environment. Radiation can affect the air, water, soil, plants, animals, places of residence and recreation and elsewhere.



Environmental coalition defends its legal appeal, seeks to block Fermi 3 proposed new reactor in Michigan

Terry Lodge, legal counsel for the environmental coalition resisting Fermi 3

An environmental coalition, including Beyond Nuclear, is entering its 10th year of resistance (2008-2017) against Detroit Edison's proposed new Fermi Unit 3 reactor in southeast Michigan on the Great Lakes shoreline.

On Dec. 23rd, Toledo-based attorney Terry Lodge filed a Reply Brief, in defense of a legal appeal originally filed in October, at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the second highest court in the land, just below the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Reply rebuts challenges to the appeal brought by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and Detroit Edison (DTE).

The appeal challenges NRC's exclusion of the transmission line corridor from the Environmental Impact Statement, a violation of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The appeal also challenges DTE's violations of NRC's quality assurance (QA) regulations (Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds Associates, Inc. serves as the coalition's QA expert).



Yet another oil spill at Indian Point, into the Hudson River

Riverkeeper map showing risks to the Hudson River, New York City, and beyond, from Indian Point.As reported by Nuclear Street, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has ordered two state agencies to investigate the latest oil spill at Entergy's Indian Point nuclear power plant, located on the banks of the Hudson River, not far upstream from New York City.

The article reports:

Since 2011, there have been over 40 spills and unexpected shutdown events at the Indian Point Nuclear Reactor, which as been criticized repeatedly by Gov. Cuomo, who has said the plant, run by Entergy Nuclear Operations Inc. and just 24 miles north of New York City, is too close to a major population center to allow for a reasonable evacuation process in the event of a significant emergency.


Entergy FitzPatrick causes oil spill into Great Lakes

U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary aerial photo of oil sheen on Lake Ontario caused by Entergy Nuclear's FitzPatrick atomic reactor, visible in backgroundNuclear power is not "emissions-free," as its proponents so often claim. In fact, sometimes it causes oil spills into fresh drinking water supplies...

As reported by the Democrat & Chronicle, Entergy Nuclear's FitzPatrick atomic reactor on the Lake Ontario shoreline in upstate New York just released up to 30 gallons of oil into that drinking water supply, utilized by many millions of people downstream in two countries.

The oil spill was not detected nor announced at first by Entergy, or the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), but rather by a U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary air crew, who spotted the visible sheen on Lake Ontario's surface waters (see photo, above/left).

As reported by the article:

A boat crew from Coast Guard Station Oswego launched to take samples of the sheen and enforce a safety zone extending two miles to the north and two miles to the east and west.

That amounts to a 6 square mile surface area of Lake Ontario.

Entergy has a bad record of oil spills into New York's surface waters. In May 2015, its Indian Point nuclear power plant just upstream from New York City on the Hudson River, spilled oil into the surface waters. That spill, of thousands of gallons of oil -- and the turbine fire that led to it -- prompted New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to rush to the scene to hold an emergency press conference.

(The Palisades atomic reactor in Michigan also spilled around 70 gallons of oil on the edge of the Great Lakes, this time Lake Michigan, a year earlier, in May 2014. However, Entergy claimed no oil made it into the Lake.)

(In early 2015, reports emerged of a two-month long leak of some 2,000 gallons of oil from the American Electric Power Donald C. Cook nuclear power plant, into Lake Michigan, some 30 miles south of Palisades, in Bridgman, MI.)

Lake Michigan is also the source of drinking water for some tens of millions of people downstream.

Of course, atomic reactors "emit" more than just oil spills into surface waters. They "routinely" discharge radioactivity into the air and surface waters, by design, which can then cause harm to human health and the environment downwind and downstream. (See the photo in the linked pamphlet, showing Entergy Palisades' liquid radioactive waste discharge pathway into Lake Michigan; the photo was taken by Gabriela Bulišová.)

Atomic reactors also have frequent unintended (or "accidental") spills and leaks of radioactivity into the environment. Beyond Nuclear published a major report about this in April 2010.

An example of this in New York is Entergy Indian Point's leakage of radioactivity (tritium, strontium, etc.) from high-level radioactive waste storage pools, which ultimately flows into the Hudson River, which has been underway for more than a decade.

Another example is Entergy Palisades' spill of 82 gallons of radioactive water into Lake Michigan in May 2013.


U.S. News and World Report: Atomic reactors leaking radioactivity into groundwater and surface waters, from New York City to Miami

As reported by Alan Neuhauser in U.S. News and World Report, Entergy's Indian Point nuclear power plant on the Hudson River just upstream from New York City, and Florida Power and Light's Turkey Point nuclear power plant on Biscayne Bay near Miami, are hemorrhaging radioactive tritium into groundwater and surface water.

At Indian Point, although the radioactive releases are into on-site groundwater, chances are very high that, over time, this tritium (and likely other) radioactive contamination will flow into the Hudson River, harming its fisheries.

At Turkey Point, in addition to the significant increase in radioactivity in a massive cooling canal network, as well as the ocean itself, the atomic reactors are also releasing large amounts of thermally hot waste heat into the surface waters. Remarkably, with U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission collusion and complicity, Turkey Point has been allowed to increase cooling canal water temperatures to 104 degrees Fahrenheit, hotter than most hot tubs. This is undoubtedly having a seriously harmful impact on the surrounding area's fragile ecosystem, home to endangered species like the American crocodile.


State of NY denies Entergy coastal management permit, blow to Indian Point's license extension prospects

Entergy's Indian Point reactors on the Hudson River near New York CityAs reported by the Associated Press, the State of New York Secretary of State has denied a coastal management certificate to Entergy Nuclear, for its twin reactor Indian Point nuclear power plant near New York City. The Secretary of State, Cesar Perales's, decision is the latest blow to Entergy's application for 20-year license extensions.

As reported:

"For over 40 years, Entergy's Indian Point nuclear facilities have been damaging the coastal resources of the Hudson River estuary," the state agency wrote. That includes 2.5 [billion] gallons of water withdrawn daily from the Hudson for cooling that kills an estimated 1 billion larvae, small fish and other organisms annually. More.