Probe ordered into radioactive leak near New York City

09 Feb 2016


Tritium from a nuclear power plant north of New York City, had leaked into the groundwater below the facility, requiring an investigation by state officials, governor Andrew Cuomo said yesterday.

Cuomo said he learned about Friday's alarming" levels of radioactivity at three monitoring wells at the Indian Point plant in Buchanan, about 40 miles (65 km) north of New York City on the east bank of the Hudson River.

The governor had earlier asked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to shutter the plant due to doubts over the safe evacuation of the area in the event of an accident.

According to Cuomo's statement, he had been informed by the plant's operator, Entergy Corp, that the contaminated water had not flowed off the site and posed no public health risk.

The governor said he had directed the state departments for the environment and health to investigate the leak.

"Our first concern is for the health and safety of the residents close to the facility and ensuring the groundwater leak does not pose a threat," Cuomo said.

The company said in a statement, that the leak likely happened during recent work at the site.

"While elevated tritium in the ground onsite is not in accordance with our standards, there is no health or safety consequence to the public, and releases are more than a thousand times below federal permissible limits," the company said.

Neil Sheehan, a spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said, the leak also did not pose a threat to the river environment as dilution would render the radioactive water "undetectable," said.

According to the Natural Resources Defence Council, there were 317,000 residents within a 10-mile evacuation zone around the nuclear facility.

According to Sheehan, the more immediate concern was how the leak happened.

Sheehan said the NRC planned to send an expert in health physics and radiation protection to the site next week.

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