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Environment NY Reports Indian Point Threatens Drinking Water for New Yorkers

Representatives from Environment New York and Riverkeeper are releasing a report at Peekskill Landing that claims Indian Point threatens drinking water for more than 11 million people.

The following is a press release provided by Environment New York regarding a its new study called, “Too Close to Home: Nuclear Power and the Threat to Drinking Water.” Environment New York and Riverkeeper released this report at an event at Peekskill Landing at 1 p.m. on Jan. 31. Read Indian Point's response to the claims included in this release here.

The drinking water for more than 11.3 million people could be at risk of radioactive contamination from a leak or accident at the says a new study released today by Environment New York. The report also shows that Indian Point Nuclear Plant threatens drinking water supplies for more than twice as many people compared to any other nuclear facility in the nation.

“The danger of nuclear power is too close to home. Here in New York state, the drinking water for nearly 10 million people is too close to an active nuclear power plant,” said Eric Whalen, Field Organizer with Environment New York. “An accident like the one in Fukushima, Japan or a radioactive leak could spew cancer-causing radioactive waste into the drinking water of millions of New Yorkers.”

The nuclear meltdown in Fukushima, Japan last year drew a spotlight on the many risks associated with nuclear power. After the disaster, airborne radiation left areas around the plant uninhabitable, and even contaminated drinking water sources near Tokyo, 130 miles from the plant.

Indian Point Nuclear Plant, just outside of New York City, has a long history of leaks and accidental releases of radioactive material. Recently, to repair a pump, which was leaking radioactive coolant.

According to the new report, “Too Close to Home: Nuclear Power and the Threat to Drinking Water,” the drinking water intakes for 11.3 million people in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut are within 50 miles of Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant – the distance the Nuclear Regulatory Commission uses to measure risk to food and water supplies.

The report also shows that 8.3 million people total, including 8 million in New York City, rely on drinking water from sources within just 12.4 miles of Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant.

Radiation from a disaster like the one in Fukushima can contaminate drinking water and food supplies, as well as harm our health. But disaster or no disaster, a common leak at a nuclear power plant can also threaten the drinking water for millions of people. As our nuclear facilities get older, leaks are more common. In fact, 75 percent of U.S. nuclear plants have leaked tritium, a radioactive form of hydrogen that can cause cancer and genetic defects. "Indian Point is so close to our water supply that virtually any radiation exposure could contaminate our drinking water and increase the risk of cancer and other illnesses," said Whalen.

Local bodies of water also play a critical role in cooling nuclear reactors and are at risk of contamination. In the case of the Fukushima meltdown, large quantities of seawater were pumped into the plant to cool it, and contaminated seawater then leaked and was dumped back into the ocean, carrying radioactivity from the plant with it. The Hudson River provides cooling water for Indian Point Nuclear Plant in New York and could be at risk.

“With nuclear power, there’s too much at risk and the dangers are too close to home. New Yorkers shouldn’t have to worry about getting cancer from drinking a glass of water,” said Eric Whalen.

The report recommends that the United States moves to a future without nuclear power by retiring existing plants, abandoning plans for new plants, and expanding energy efficiency and the production clean, renewable energy such as wind and solar power.

"The Too Close to Home report highlights the profound risk posed by Indian Point to the drinking water for 9 million New Yorkers, and is only the latest evidence showing why this plant should be shut down," said Phillip Musegaas, Hudson River Program Director for Riverkeeper. "A recent study commissioned by Riverkeeper and NRDC conclusively proves that Indian Point's power can be replaced after the reactors are retired in 2015. If we don't need the power, why take the risk?"

In order to immediately reduce the risks nuclear power poses to water supplies, the report recommends completing a thorough safety review of U.S. nuclear power plants, requiring plant operators to implement recommended changes immediately and requiring nuclear plant operators to implement regular groundwater tests in order to catch tritium leaks, among other actions.

"Our drinking water is too important to risk radiation contamination," said Whalen. "New York should deny Indian Point's relicensing and address the leaks and radioactive waste left behind by this nuclear plant."

“There are far cheaper, cleaner, and less-risky ways to get our energy,” concluded Eric Whalen. “New York and the United States should move away from nuclear power immediately and invest in safer alternatives such as efficiency and wind and solar power.”

Francis T McVetty February 02, 2012 at 11:12 PM
Remy, how many people that you know keep their lights on 24/7 ? I can see everyone going to LED's when the cost of electricity goes up in the very near future as the President has planned. Are these LED's made in the USA? The CFL's weren't.
Bob Ogden February 03, 2012 at 12:28 AM
Francis, When calculating the payback there are more calculations than the current cost of electricity. As LED's generate no heat it will cost less to air condition the space and as you pointed out, the cost of electricity will most likely go up. Additionally, 8 watts of led's can replace 65 watts of incandescent bulbs. Then there's the fact that led's will not need to be replaced for approximately ten years so you need to calculate the cost of replacing a lightbulb every 60 to 90days through the ten year period. Think about it, if it were going to take twenty years to payback the cost do you think you would see cities such as LA replacing all their street lights with led's? Finally, let's lay off the President on this one although I know you love blaming him for everything, CFL's have been here for years and the phasing out of all incandescent bulbs was passed a long time ago and survived the Bush administration (yes even he supported it). So where are the led's being made? Mostly Japan,China and the far east, but mostly by American companies who receive a tax break by moving their businesses overseas (a tax loophole that needs to be closed).
Francis T McVetty February 03, 2012 at 01:39 PM
Mungo, Re; the tax loop hole. There would be no reason for this loop hole if the companies stayed here in the USA. Taxes and regulations dictate that they move off shore. As far as CFL's, I'm not blaming Obama. I am blaming him for wanting to put onerous regulations on the coal industry thus increasing the cost of generating electricity by those coal fired plants. We do get over 40% of our electricity from coal. I do like LED lighting and probably go over to them if and when the prices come down to a reasonable level. I have replaced my some of my vehicles lamps with LED's. They last a lot longer and now they have made them with the same intensity as the incandescent lamps.Also waiting for them to make LED headlamps at a reasonable price.
Remy Chevalier February 03, 2012 at 02:43 PM
Really, you want me to answer that question? OK... Police stations? Hospitals? Malls? 24 hour super markets? Parking lots? Airports? Bus stations? Train stations? Harbor yards? Many factories... just about the entire infrastructure of this country! Just look at a photograph of America from space shot at night, all these lights shining bright! Every single one of them will over time be replaced by more efficient lighting technology to save energy and "money" and to those who care, reduce our impact on the biosphere.
Remy Chevalier February 03, 2012 at 02:55 PM
Well there you go, you already replaced some of your vehicle lights with LEDs? Have you been to Home Depot lately to sample the LED selection there? Try some of the Philips bulbs... In the home, generally lighting only makes up for about 10% of your electrical consumption, but total, lighting makes up for 20% of the electricity used in America. That figure can and will be drastically reduced now by LEDs, and soon by OLEDs which are even more energy efficient for the same lumens. There's a grade curve by which as our appliances increase in efficiency, and alternative power systems increase in reliability, and decrease in cost, when all our needs will be met by the "soft" path, something clearly explained in Harvey Wasserman's book Solartopia. We can all understand why the oil, coal and nuke industry wants to survive, they're like the Morlocks in the Time Machine, stuck living underground hiding from the sun.

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