Peekskill Herald

Peekskill Herald

Peekskill Herald

Holtec playing fast and loose with taxpayer’s money


To the editor:

Last Thursday, Holtec International, the company who received $2.4B of your ratepayer money to decommission Indian Point, sued the State of New York for the “Save the Hudson” bill that prohibited the dumping of 1.3+ million gallons of radioactive tritiated water into the Hudson River.

When 450,000 people signed a petition demanding Holtec NOT dump the wastewater into the Hudson— in addition to resolutions from three counties, 30 Rivertown municipalities, and 138 environmental organizations against dumping, available here — Governor Hochul signed the “Save the Hudson” bill when it passed unanimously (63-0) in the NYS Senate, and passed then in the NYS Assembly (100-44).

This is really a whole lot of will, from the people and our elected representatives, to protect the Hudson River economy.

Essentially, Holtec signed an agreement with New York State that it would honor and follow its laws. This new lawsuit points right back at them as a bad faith industry partner. Holtec should acknowledge that the wastewater is bad for business, no one wants to fish and kayak, swim, drink milk or eat apples, to name just a few examples, if a nuclear power plant dumps its wastewater from nuclear fuel rods into the Hudson River.

I believe that the economic health of the Hudson River communities does not fall under the federal jurisdiction of Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) either. If this federal agency doesn’t respect the laws of New York State, what kind of industry oversight is it offering really?

It is infuriating that Holtec and the NRC point to science and safety and they offer no examples either. Instead, they imply this is all just “an emotional response” to radioactivity (implying, I guess, the 450,000 petition signers are just a bunch of emotional women).

The NRC argument, their logic, is that they’ve always been doing this, they’ve always regulated this way, as if it’s okay that people have always been doing cancer. The NRC has declined doing any scientific studies though, especially about the impacts of tritium on pregnant women and fetuses, saying these are unnecessary and expensive (tritium is an endocrine disruptor and is absorbed as water in the body). The National Academies of Sciences states that more tritium studies are warranted, and this federal regulatory agency on nuclear safety ignores this?

Now Holtec wants to spend funds on litigating rather than following the laws of New York State. (Many suspect Holtec simply wants to grow the interest on the $2.4 billion Indian Point trust fund. Similarly, they sought and were granted an eight year extension by the NRC for decommissioning their Oyster Creek in New Jersey for the precise reason of growing their plant’s trust fund.)

Other issues urgently need to be addressed too, and Holtec’s convenient lawsuit and layoffs deflect from attempting to answer any of these:

  • Given there isn’t a designated federal regulatory repository for Indian Point’s nuclear waste, why do all of Holtec’s future business plans rely on shipping it to another state and storing it there?
  • The monitoring system and timing of the irradiated fuel rods in the casks seem wholly insufficient. How can Holtec improve on this?
  • The Union of Concerned Scientists have recently projected that with the river rise of climate change, the Indian Point site will be flooding by 2060. What are Holtec’s plans to mitigate this?
  • What is the contamination of the groundwater from the leaking fuel pools, given the high readings of tritium at the monitoring wells? Wouldn’t this possibly contaminated groundwater be finding its way to the Hudson River?

They are other questions that at the very least should be answered by Holtec, instead of suing and stalling.

Nuclear engineer and decommissioning expert Arnie Gundersen will present to the New York State Decommissioning Oversight Board one solution for storage of the tritiated waste water on-site at the Thursday, April 25 meeting at 6 PM at Cortlandt Town Hall. At 5 PM, advocates from the STOP HOLTEC Coalition who include Lower Hudson Valley Sierra Club, Food & Water Watch, Riverkeeper, Safe Energy Rights Group among others, will rally before the meeting, calling for safe on-site storage of all  Indian Point’s nuclear waste.


Tina Volz-Bongar, Smith Street