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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.”

Remy Chevalier February 01, 2012 at 06:06 PM
James B, another paid shill living at the troff of Entergy. Keep telling yourself anti-nuclear activists know nothing about nuclear energy. We in fact know a heck of a lot more than you do, because all you know is what your industry allows you to know. You are blind to the consequences of your actions, putting the entire planet at risk. You call us doomsayers, while again and again, accidents happen, that slowly destroy our genome, all for a few more electrons which can now be produced more cheaply and safely by a dozen other alternatives. Your days are numbered and you can kowtow to your puppet masters all you want, it won't make any difference. People aren't stupid, they can see, feel the truth plain as day. Keep lying to yourselves, ultimately the only future in nuclear power is decommissioning tired old plants. We don't want to have to tell you we told you so, we're trying to save the New York area from some new catastrophe, and from the long term effect this sad monstrosity has left scared on the landscape. Manhattan wants Indian Point gone! You're just making it very, very hard, but this time the City that never sleeps won't let go. All we need is one call from David Rockefeller and Entergy is packing back to New Orleans!
Remy Chevalier February 01, 2012 at 06:08 PM
You mean like Jim Steets now being an official blogger for the Huffington Post? You mean like that?
Peter Marengo February 01, 2012 at 06:46 PM
So Remy, where are the proven dozens of safer and cheaper alternatives to nuclear energy? Have Riverkeeper, ENY or consumer groups conducted an analysis on how to bring these alernatives to the market? If these consumer groups have this research and unassailable truth on their side, why haven't they lured investors to knock out companies like Entergy on the open market? Why must they keep appealing to politicians to eradicate the devil when all they have to do is defeat it at its own game?
Bob Ogden February 01, 2012 at 07:24 PM
Well I guess everyone has chosen up sides to yell at each other again. I would like to say something as someone who actually does know something about Emergency Management and Significant Radioactive Sources. I am more concerned with the cooling pools than the reactor building itself and that's where most of you are missing the point. The reactor building can withstand a plane crash, the pool cannot. The reactor building can withstand an earthquake, the pool cannot. The reactor building is well secured, the pool is not. There is also a fault that runs near IP, in fact there are two and the intersect pretty close by. The newest one to be discovered is the Peekskill-Stamford Line and I know that some of you will say that some left wing, liberal must have faked the data just to scare us but I've looked at the data and it's pretty convincing. So here's your wake-up call: Although Entergy may be a person under the law it really doesn't care about you and I. It cares about making a profit and it has a responsibility to its shareholders to do that and that's all legal and fine. I just ask all of you, no matter what side your on to open your minds and do some research. You don't need to believe River Keeper but you certainly don't need to believe Entergy either. Get all the facts before you make up your . Then you can explain your position rather than just making accusations about the honesty, integrity or intelligence of each other. Thank you
Peter Marengo February 01, 2012 at 07:56 PM
So what is your solution Mungo? I'll give you the benefit of the doubt, accept your assessment and agree that there is risk (for the sake of context, there's risk in most anything in life but let's forget about that for now). So if we shut down IP, are there sources of power that is cheaper, cleaner, safer and as productive as nuclear?
Remy Chevalier February 01, 2012 at 08:29 PM
Everything is cheaper, cleaner, safer and as productive as nuclear when you take into consideration environmental cost accounting and decommissioning. But if you'd been paying attention these last few years, you'd know that since 2006 LED retrofits alone in New York state have already made up for the 2000Mw of electricity produced by Indian Point. Sadly, Spitzer never started the countdown clock after he promised us during his campaign that if we could make up the power he'd shut down the plant. He lied to us, what else is new?
Remy Chevalier February 01, 2012 at 08:31 PM
BTW, it's Riverkeeper, one word, thank you. It helps in Google searches.
Peter Marengo February 01, 2012 at 09:06 PM
But shouldn't the plant shut on its own if there were these market alternatives to producing energy? Why do we need a governor or any figure of authority to do something that the free market can do on its own? And BTW - doesn't the amount of mercury in an LED light pose significant dangers to our health too?
Peter Marengo February 01, 2012 at 09:16 PM
Sorry - I may have confused LED with a type of LED bulb. While mercury may not be the issue for all LED lights, the fact that they emit lower levels of lighting is a problem for many people who prefer to use traditional household bulbs. Of course, another point to take issue if government mandates the switch.
Remy Chevalier February 01, 2012 at 09:59 PM
LEDs do not contain mercury. CFLs do, and only in such tiny amounts, that eating a can of tuna fish, actually contains MORE mercury than a CFL. Also unlike CFLs, LEDs emit light at a much higher flicker rate frequency, which doesn't produce the background noise chronic with fluorescents. We have 58 LED T8 tubes in our library, our patrons tell us its the most amazing light they've ever read under. The Philips AmbientLED bulb reproduces the spectrum temperature of a 60w incandescent bulb to perfection, nobody can tell the difference in blind tests. Our organization Rock The Reactors contributed the LED research to the McGraw title Green Lighting. Once again, LEDs may not be the complete solution to nukes, although it's fun to promote them as such, but it certainly plays a great role. While many people can't afford a PV array for their house yet, they can certainly switch their home and business to LEDs, which will pay for itself in a year off their electrical bill. Most smart building managers have already done this, or are planning to do so. It's a quiet, invisible revolution which is ultimately going to shave 20% off our overall electrical needs since most of our electrical consumption comes from lighting.
Bob Ogden February 01, 2012 at 10:14 PM
Peter, I don't pretend to have the ultimate answer but as you asked I will tell you what I think. I think the plant does need to be shut down but it needs to be part of a plan. Simply not re-licensing the plant is not an option I would recommend. Let's take this time and add provisions to the re-licensing that would require Entergy to address the spent fuel rod issue and write a strategic plan for going forward that can be reviewed at public hearings. Then let's look at reducing demand by giving people tax breaks to install energy saving technologies at their homes and businesses. If I could write off these installations on my taxes, they would pay for themselves and create jobs as a bonus. Then let's ask business to come up with better technologies so that we can produce electricity more efficiently and while we're at it, give them a tax break if they come up with these technologies and another if the produce it in this country. Let's for once look at the future and begin to plan for it today. It really isn't about putting Entergy out of business. I can tell you that looking at technology and how far it''s come in the last 40 years, I can't believe that wind, tidal and solar won't be much much better in the next twenty years. They're probably not viable solutions today but I guarantee you they will be. Let's plan now so we can act later or we can buy it from the Chinese because they're already tooling up.
Steve G February 01, 2012 at 10:15 PM
Remy switching to LED lights and other conservation measures will never be enough to replace the power that Indian Point produces. To do that every house would need to install solar panels on their roofs. That would require a big outlay of cash with a payback period of about 20 years. How many people do you know that can afford to do that besides Mr. Kennedy and his buddies? Another solution would be to construct large solar panel electric generating plants like the ones being built in Germany. I did a quick calculation and in order to replace the 2,000 MWs produced by Indian Point you'd need a German plant covering over 30 square miles. Who's neighborhoods are we going to start covering with solar panels?
Remy Chevalier February 01, 2012 at 10:15 PM
As for your other questions, why we need a governor to do something that the free market can do on its own? That's because the nuclear power industry is like organized crime, it will require RICO laws to remove them from the free market equation. If every New York resident signed on for Green Energy on their utility bill, the New York Independent System Operator would have no other choice but to disconnect Indian Point from the grid, along with all coal and garbage fired plants, creating market circumstances similar to those in Germany where 60% of all electrical needs are provided by so-called clean energy generation. PVs and wind are already priced cheaper than new nuke construction, it's a better long term investment. Shutting down Indian Point would be a win-win situation, creating a boom in renewable energy industries, providing safer, cleaner, greener, more lucrative forms of energy for the entire region. Check out Greendrinks.org and attend one near you.
Remy Chevalier February 01, 2012 at 10:21 PM
Who's neighborhoods are we going to start covering with solar panels? Every neighborhood! Check out Solar Mosaic. Not true about the cost of PVs. They are market ready, they're exploding in Fairfield County with first adopters, it won't take long for the price point to drop so every house can afford them.
Shar February 01, 2012 at 10:36 PM
Solar panels are expensive and the winter storms will do so much damage that the panels will have to be replaced from year to year...They don't tell you that when they are installing your solar panels because you are a potential repeat costumer.
Francis T McVetty February 02, 2012 at 04:30 PM
Both solar and wind electrical generation have been failures in regard to cost to profit margin. Show me where this "scheme" has worked.
Francis T McVetty February 02, 2012 at 04:32 PM
You may want to read this <http://www.tnr.com/article/environment-and-energy/96838/germany-merkel-fukushima-nuclear-activists>
Francis T McVetty February 02, 2012 at 04:34 PM
Who is going to produce these panels? China? Looks like they won't be produced here. Can you say Solandra among others?
Francis T McVetty February 02, 2012 at 04:40 PM
Remy, LED retrofits since 2006. You must be kidding. 2006.[2006 LED retrofits alone in New York state have already made up for the 2000Mw of electricity produced by Indian Point.] Show me, I'm from Missouri.
Peter Marengo February 02, 2012 at 05:46 PM
Thanks Mungo - I don't disagree about the fuel rod issue and that IP needs to be as transparent as possible and allow independent scientists grill them on these issues at public hearings. But I have a couple of issues with your argument. First of all, if something is so good, why do we need to give tax incentives? If what you say is correct, how can an entire industry not want to invest R&D into this and have a plan of migration? The money they would make from this venture would be enormous. I am not a fan of government incentives as they tend to come unfairly at the expense of someone else. Without true free market incentives - the ability to make profits - I do not believe that we should fear that the Chinese will beat us to these alt energy technologies.
Lanning Taliaferro (Editor) February 02, 2012 at 07:53 PM
FYI: Here are Westchester County's rules for disposing of CFL bulbs. http://environment.westchestergov.com/images/stories/pdfs/specialwastes.pdf Also here's an article from the Times on LEDs http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/30/science/earth/30degrees.html?pagewanted=all
Francis T McVetty February 02, 2012 at 08:33 PM
Lanning, thanks for the postings. Like the fact that i can turn those CFL's into Home Depot. It also looks like some people will be using CFL's and incandescent's a little longer. 20 years to recoup the cost for an LED?
Bob Ogden February 02, 2012 at 09:05 PM
Francis, I believe your calculations are less than accurate. The return on investment for LED's are usually calculated between 14 months and two years. Still a substantial amount of time but not twenty years as you're stating.
Francis T McVetty February 02, 2012 at 09:30 PM
Mungo.you are right the figure that I stated was wrong, the actual figure from the article says [Homeowners may balk at the high initial cost, which lighting experts say currently will take 5 to 10 years to recoup in electricity savings]..
Remy Chevalier February 02, 2012 at 10:32 PM
LED payback depends on use since it is measured from the savings off your utility bill. As an example, since it costs about $30 a year to keep a 60w incandescent light on for 8 hours a day, the LED equivalent will pay for itself in a year. Building managers are removing fluorescent tubes from office and factory spaces, where these lights sometimes stay on 24/7 and are replacing them with LED tubes. These LED installations pay for themselves in under a year. Art galleries or boutiques switching from halogen track lights to LEDs, can see their installation pay back for itself in just a few months, with an 80% reduction on their electrical bill henceforth.
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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