Proposed Bill to Ban Radioactive Release into Hudson

A bill was announced on Feb 24th to prohibit the release of hazardous radioactive materials into the Hudson River. New York State Senator Pete Harckham and Assemblywoman Dana Levenberg introduced legislation S.5181. This proposes a ban on radioactive discharge from entering New York State’s water supply—a reactionary step against Holtec’s recently-announced plans to release toxic waste from the defunct nuclear power plant at Indian Point.

Opened in 1962, the Indian Point Energy Center has faced past criticism for discharging radioactive waste water into the Hudson River. According to Riverkeeper, New York’s clean water advocate, the issue with radioactive discharge at the Indian Point location is longstanding.

“Since at least August 2005, radioactive toxins such as tritium and strontium-90 have been leaking from at least two spent fuel pools at Indian Point into the groundwater and the Hudson River.”

Harckham and Levenberg recognized the concern for the water and natural ecosystems surrounding the Hudson River and its estuaries. They therefore decided to take action and bring the bill forward.

No person, corporation or government has the right to recklessly pollute New York State’s waters,” said Harckham. “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.

Levenberg shared the sentiment and raised her concerns about unregulated dumping.

Too much is still unknown about the possible impacts of discharging radioactive waste into our waterways,” Levenberg stated. “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.

The legislation was developed with support from local environmental groups, including Riverkeeper. And it includes a penalty structure based on the frequency of each infraction. Proposed fines for discharging radioactive materials into the Hudson River are $25,000 per day for the first violation, $50,000 per day for a second violation, and $150,000 per day for each regulation breach thereafter.

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