In a press release yesterday, April 24, 2007, County Executive Andy Spano said “he is angry that the operators of Westchester’s Indian Point power plants failed to notify the county that an underground steam pipe has been leaking low levels of tritium into the soil for at least two weeks.”
According to his office, Westchester County officials only learned about the leak today from officials from the State Emergency Management Office, who heard about the problem during a conference call this morning. The leak was discovered April 7, 2007, by Entergy, the company that owns and operates the plant.
“This is really outrageous,” Spano said. “Entergy assures us that the leak in no way is a threat to public safety, and that is reassuring. But that in no way justifies this lack of information. We need to know that problems at the plant are being reported to us promptly, so we can ensure that county residents are safe.”
The leak is the latest in a series of recent problems with the plant. On April 6, a fire in a transformer caused Indian Point 3 to shut down and led the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to lower the safety rating at the plant. Today, the NRC fined Entergy $130,000 for not completing its new siren system by the April 15 deadline.
Spano said the leaking pipe is another sign the aging plants, which are located in a densely populated area, need to shut down. He has called upon the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to deny relicensing of the plants and he has demanded an independent assessment of the plants’ safety.
Referring to the fine now imposed on the delay in getting the new siren system working, he said, “The fine by the NRC is a step in the right direction. Now, the NRC needs to ensure that the new siren system works and is put into use as soon as possible.”
County officials will monitor Entergy’s plans to repair the pipe and to get the new siren system working. Anthony W. Sutton, commissioner of the county’s Department of Emergency Services, said the tritium leak should have at least been mentioned by Entergy during conference calls, which are held every other week with the counties in the 10 mile radius of Indian Point to discuss other groundwater contamination at the plant. The last conference call was held April 12.
“Entergy had ample opportunity to mention this during that conference call,” Sutton said. “This leaves us questioning whether Entergy really understands what a sensitive location Indian Point is in.”