Indian Point Settlement Calls For Hudson To Be Tested For Radioactivity

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A third location in the Hudson River will be tested for radioactivity after a settlement between Entergy, owner and operator of the Indian Point nuclear power plants, Riverkeeper and Hudson River Sloop Clearwater. Photo Credit: Jessica Glenza

BUCHANAN, N.Y. - A settlement between Entergy, owner and operator of the Indian Point nuclear power plants, Riverkeeper and Hudson River Sloop Clearwater will test fish and sediment in Haverstraw Bay for exposure to radioactivity.

The downstream bay is one of the widest parts of the Hudson River and marks the third location for radioactivity testing in the Hudson, according to Riverkeeper officials.  

The Hudson River is tested for radioactive isotopes upstream of and immediately in front of the two operating Indian Point reactors, which are both seeking 20-year license extensions.

"This will give us very valuable information about whether leaks are affecting that area," said Philip Musegaas, Riverkeeper's Hudson River program director, about the settlement Monday.

"It'll provide more access than the public currently enjoys, which we agree is a good thing," said Jim Steets, a spokesman for Entergy. Results of radioactive testing already are public information, Steets said, although they only are available through the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's website, which contains thousands of documents. 

Results of the quarterly radioactivity tests likely will be posted on Indian Point's website, said both Entergy and Riverkeeper officials, beginning at the end of the third quarter of 2013. 

The three-party settlement resolves the first of 10 arguments, or "contentions," being heard this week by the ommission's judiciary arm, the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board. 

The contention stems from a 2005 incident, when radioactive isotopes strontium 90 and tritium were discovered leaking from spent fuel pools into the ground and the Hudson River. The commission has since ruled the approximately 20,000 gallons leaked from the pools can remain there until the plant is decommissioned. Diane Screnci, a commission spokeswoman, said although some articles describe water leaked from spent fuel pools as forming a "plume" underneath the plant, water likely "migrates" toward the Hudson River. 

"There's never been any detectable radiation in the Hudson River, but you know that's the way the water moved," Screnci said. She said the source of the leak never was located, but there's no indication the pools still are leaking. 

Highly technical contention hearings continue through Thursday in Tarrytown. Eight additional hearing dates are set for 2012. Commission officials have confirmed these are the most contentions ever brought against a company in a license renewal. 

Decisions on other contentions, which cover issues from the commission's analysis of clean-up costs in the event of a severe accident, to an analysis of what the impact of a severe accident would be on the population living within 10 miles of the plants, are not expected to be as easily reached. 

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