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Cuomo: Radioactive contaminated water leaked at Indian Point

Indian Point Nuclear facility

U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer is calling Sunday for an investigation into possible ground water contamination from the Indian Point nuclear facility.

Schumer said part of the investigation should focus on why a water pump at the facility failed.

"The disconcerting levels of tritium in the water wells surrounding Indian Point should be a wake up call that more must be done to prevent leaks like this in the first place. It is critical that proper safety measures are in place to prevent water contamination. That is why I am urging NRC to fully investigate all the wells surrounding Indian Point and determine why the pump was not working, how far the contamination spread, how to prevent future spills and more importantly determine if local residents' health and safety are at risk," said Senator Schumer.

NRC Chairman Stephen G. Burns said the leakage would not affect drinking water because it takes two months for the water to migrate to the Hudson River, and even at that point, the amount of tritium would be well within federal limits.

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BUCHANAN, N.Y. -- On Saturday, Governor Cuomo released a statement about a leak of radioactive contaminated water leaking into groundwater at the Indian Point Nuclear facility.

Cuomo says he learned about the radioactive tritium-contaminated water leak on Friday, and says the company reported "alarming levels of radioactivity at all three monitoring wells." One of the wells showed an increase in radioactivity of nearly 65,000 percent.

"Our first concern is for the health and safety of the residents close to the facility," he says, "and ensuring the groundwater leak does not pose a threat." Indian Point is reporting the contamination has not migrated off the site and does not pose an immediate threat to public health.

Cuomo calls the failure "unacceptable," and has directed the Health Commissioner and Acting Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner to investigate the incident:

Dear Commissioners Zucker and Seggos:

I am deeply concerned to have learned that radioactive tritium-contaminated water has recently leaked from operations at the Entergy Indian Point Energy Center (Indian Point) into groundwater at the site. This is not the first such release of radioactive water at Indian Point, nor is this the first time that Indian Point has experienced significant failure in its operation and maintenance. This failure continues to demonstrate that Indian Point cannot continue to operate in a manner that is protective of public health and the environment.

The levels of radioactivity reported this week are significantly higher than in past incidents. Three of forty monitoring wells registered alarming increases. In fact, one of the monitoring well increased nearly 65,000 percent from 12,300 picocuries per liter to over 8,000,000 picocuries per liter.

Our first concern is for the health and safety of the residents close to the facility and ensuring the groundwater leak does not pose a threat. As such, I am directing you to fully investigate this incident and employ all available measures, including working with Nuclear Regulatory Commission, to determine the extent of the release, its likely duration, its causes, its potential impacts to the environment and public health, and how the release can be contained. We need to identify whether this incident could have been avoided by exercising reasonable care. We also need to know how a recurrence of this episode can be avoided by specific steps that Entergy should be taking.

Please report back at the completion of the investigation.

Sincerely,

ANDREW M. CUOMO

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