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Environmental Groups Urge Passage of Bill to Prevent Radioactive Waste Dumping

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June 15, 2023

By Rick Pezzullo–

Environmental groups are urging the state Assembly to join its Senate colleagues in passing legislation that would prohibit the dumping of radioactive waste from the Indian Point nuclear power plant into the Hudson River.

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The Senate unanimously passed the bill June 9, but the Assembly failed to follow suit after Assembly Minority Leader William Barclay and others raised some last-minute concerns.

Assemblywoman Dana Levenberg (D/Ossining), who introduced the bill, is hopeful the delay is only temporary.

“This bill is a priority for me and my colleagues and we will get it over the finish line,” Levenberg stated. “More than 30 municipalities and thousands of my constituents have reached out to my office to oppose the plan to discharge nuclear waste into the Hudson. We have worked so hard, for so long, to make the Hudson River a premier destination to live, work, and play, and people are concerned about returning to the bad old days of treating our rivers like industrial dumping grounds. We cannot ignore their concerns.”

Last week, dozens of environmental activists traveled to Albany with petitions containing more than 400,000 signatures opposing Holtec International’s plans to release 45,000 gallons of radioactive wastewater from Indian Point’s spent fuel rods as early as September. Holtec is in charge of the decommissioning of the closed plants.

Holtec officials have maintained all nuclear power plants discharge treated effluent containing low levels of radiological effluent, which is regulated by the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Environmental Protection Agency.

The company has also stressed the practice of dumping the wastewater into the river from Indian Point has been occurring for the last 60 years and is the best alternative for handling the discharge at the 240-acre site in Buchanan.

Riverkeeper, together with a coalition of partners, are calling for the secure on-site storage of the contaminated water on the Indian Point site for at least 12 years, which it contends would allow for one half-life to elapse and reduce the radioactivity of the spent fuel pool water.

“The Assembly must vote on this legislation during their special session so we can draw a firm line against the use of our river as a dumping ground for radioactive waste and pave the way for a prosperous future for the Hudson River and its surrounding communities,” said Tracy Brown, President of Riverkeeper. “We cannot underestimate the impact of the public perception of a severely polluted Hudson River. Together we have made great strides in cleaning up the Hudson, which has supported increased water-based recreation and tourism. We cannot let outmoded ‘business-as-usual’ polluting practices undercut that work and our goal of a clean and healthy Hudson for all.”

Food & Water Watch Senior New York Organizer Santosh Nandabalan is also urging Assembly leaders to take action.

“After decades of action to clean up the Hudson River, Holtec’s dangerous plan threatens to take us backwards. Toxic radioactive waste has no place in our water,” Nandabalan stated. “We commend the Senate on their swift response to this looming crisis. Speaker (Carl) Heastie’s leadership now stands between thousands of New Yorkers and safe, clean water. The clock is ticking — Speaker Heastie must call a special session and pass the Save the Hudson bill (A7208/S6893) immediately, so Governor Hochul can sign this critical legislation before it’s too late.”

A special session is scheduled to take place in Albany next week where the bill will be debated.

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