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Wednesday
Feb102016

Mum's the word as radioactive leak at Indian Point gets worse

Entergy’s Indian Point nuclear power plant at Buchanan, NY is leaking more radioactive tritium at higher concentrations into groundwater draining into the Hudson River. Failure of a sump pump needed for filtering radioactivity in contaminated water accumulated from a refueling outage is believed to be the cause of this latest spill picked up in three onsite monitoring wells next to Unit 2. 

The depth, breadth and flow rate of the underground contaminated plume remains unknown. One monitoring well (MW-32), which is 57 feet deep, first tested positive for high levels of tritium, radioactive hydrogen, at 8 million picoCuries per liter (pCi/L). In a press release, Entergy “voluntarily” admitted that a more recent follow-up test for tritium has now increased by 80%. Beyond Nuclear badgered the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for more transparency to find that tritium levels in three monitoring wells have soared.  Tritium concentrations  have risen in MW-30 from 1.5 million pCi/L to 2.7 million pCi/L, MW-31 from 38,100 pCi/L to 9.5 million pCi/L and MW-32 is now 14.8 million pCi/L.  

But "voluntary" compliance automatically ducks reliable reporting, federal regulations and enforcement action.

Beyond Nuclear repeatedly called NRC for two days. Entergy publicly posted a dismissive, detailess Event Notification to the NRC website that they "voluntarily" neglected to post when the tritium leak was first detected nearly a week earlier. Entergy's account is more evidence of the inconsistency and non-transparency to be expected of voluntary reporting of corporate pollution. Contaminated groundwater is flowing offsite into the Hudson River where according to the NRC and the nuclear power company dilution is the solution to pollution. Actually, its more a cheap substitute for compliance with the federal licensing agreement to control and monitor all radioactive effluent pathways to the environment.

Uncontrolled releases of radioactive effluent through unmonitored pathways into the environment are violations, albeit unenforced, of NRC’s “minimum requirements” and performance criteria (GDC 60 & 64) stipulated in Entergy’s operating licensing agreement. This most recent radioactive leak is more evidence of deteriorating systems where Entergy has lost control of the radioactive effluent coursing through reactor buildings and migrating offsite into the river. Of equal concern, the NRC has abdicated its regulatory authority to nuclear industry's “voluntary initiative” (aka the Groundwater Protection Initiative). Once again, Indian Point's leaks are just the latest demonstration of an errosion in public health oversight and the control and monitoring of radioactive water to “Nuclear Regulatory Capture.”