Lowey Letter to Nuclear Regulatory Commission Regarding Tritium Leak at Indian Point
WHITE PLAINS, NY – Congresswoman Nita M. Lowey (Westchester/Rockland), the Ranking Member on the House Appropriations Committee, released the following statement on the tritium leak at the Indian Point Energy Center and submitted a letter to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) calling on the agency to take steps to address the leak problems at Indian Point, and expedite improvements to the aging facility’s pumping system:
“The tritium leak at Indian Point is yet another alarming safety lapse at this aging facility. I have called on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to investigate this leak, and I will ask NRC Chairman Stephen Burns about the tritium leak at a House Appropriations Committee hearing scheduled for later this week. Problems at Indian Point are now a common occurrence, and ensuring health and safety of the public must be a top priority.
“Indian Point would never have been licensed in such a highly populated area had it been proposed today. That’s why I’ve introduced a measure to require the NRC to evaluate old power plants to be re-licensed with the same stringent criteria used to license new plants. I have also introduced a proposal requiring NRC to award grants for emergency preparedness when the agency collects safety-related fines from nuclear facilities. As Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Committee, I will continue to closely monitor Indian Point’s operations and NRC’s oversight. The safety and security of communities in our region cannot be left to chance.”
The full letter is below:
February 8, 2016
Stephen G. Burns
Nuclear Regulatory Commission
11555 Rockville Pike
Rockville, MD 20852
Dear Chairman Burns,
As you may be aware, radioactive tritium-contaminated water was recently reported to have leaked into groundwater at the Indian Point Energy Center in Buchanan, NY. Entergy, the plant’s operator, notified the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) last week.
This is merely the latest in a long history of safety lapses that pose significant risks to the health and safety of families and businesses in the area. In early 2005, traces of strontium-90 and tritium were detected in the ground under Indian Point and in the Hudson River. In May 2014, two groundwater monitoring wells detected spikes in the tritium levels in groundwater and bedrock under the plant. It is unacceptable that these leaks continue to occur. The NRC must take steps to address these leaks and prevent further contamination.
I understand that Entergy has committed to installing a low-flow pumping system to decrease the local concentration of tritium, minimize the spread of tritium, and monitor the presence of tritium in the future. Given the continued tritium leaks and potential health and safety impacts, the NRC must take steps to expedite these improvements so that they are implemented well before the scheduled completion at the end of the summer of 2016.
As you know, the licenses for Units 2 and 3 have both expired. Despite decades of problems, which now include multiple tritium leaks, at Indian Point, the NRC continues to approve Entergy’s requests for exemptions of safety regulations, while you consider the renewals of the two Unit licenses. Given this serious situation, I strongly urge the NRC to work with its relevant partners to thoroughly investigate the ongoing leaks at Indian Point to protect the health and safety of the public. I appreciate your attention to this pressing issue and look forward to your response.
Nita M. Lowey
Member of Congress