State lawmakers want to ban the discharging of radioactive waste in the Hudson River amid the decommissioning of Indian Point Energy Center in Westchester County.
The nuclear plant, first opened in 1962, has had waste released into the water for decades, but a concerted environmental effort has significantly cleaned up the river in recent decades.
Lawmakers believe the current state regulations provide minimum protections against radioactive waste discharges into the river and other waterways in the state.
“After decades of tremendous efforts to clean up the Hudson River, the idea of anyone dumping radioactive water into this estuary, the economic lifeblood of our region, is simply outrageous,” said state Sen. Peter Harckham. “No person, corporation or government has the right to recklessly pollute New York State’s waters, and the mere idea that this is being contemplated is troubling. While the decommissioning of a nuclear power plant is a complex issue, there can be no rationale for releasing radioactive waste into the Hudson.”
The bill, backed in the state Assembly by Assemblywoman Dana Levenberg, would punish violators with fines of up to $25,000 a day. A daily $50,000 fine would be levied for a second violation. Multiple violations after that would lead to fines of $150,000 a day, lawmakers said.
“Too much is still unknown about the possible impacts of discharging radioactive waste into our waterways,” Levenberg said. “We wouldn't want people to feel inhibited in their recreation or in moving to our communities because of the stigma of radioactive wastewater. And ultimately, the State of New York should have control over what is released into our waterways.”
Holtec, which oversees the site, raised concerns with the legislation.
“As a part of both the operation of nuclear power plants and during the decommissioning of reactors plants discharge treated liquid effluent according to state and federal permits, and well below safe release limits set by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission," the company said. "Indian Point is no different, with valid state and federal permits in place the facility has discharged treated water to the Hudson since 1962. The data on these releases are publicly available on the NRC’s website for Indian Point and all reactors."