Holtec holding off on Hudson discharge – for now

Company responds to public outcry 

By Regina Clarkin

With weeks to go before its accelerated plan to dump radioactive wastewater into the Hudson from the decommissioning Indian Point nuclear power plant, Holtec International has “voluntarily paused”  their plans, realizing their decision has “caused public questions.” 

“The decision to pause the May 2023 releases from the Indian Point spent fuel pools will allow the State to independently analyze the spent fuel pool water before it is released,” said Tom Congdon, chairman of the Decommissioning Oversight Board. 

“Holtec’s agreement to pause the partial dewatering planned for May is also an important step toward rebuilding trust in the community …While releases of treated spent fuel pool water occur under the auspices of the federal government, that does not relieve Holtec of its responsibility to partner with the host community to address local concerns about various aspects of the decommissioning process,” continued Congdon. 

In a letter to the Decommissioning Oversight Board on April 13, Holtec said their April 4 notification about an early discharge “caused public questions. Following conversations with key state stakeholders, who wish to allow for additional public education, we have decided not to go forward with the planned discharge in early May,” said the letter from the company’s director of public affairs, Patrick O’Brien.  

“While Holtec maintains that we are legally authorized to discharge spent fuel pool water, under the authority of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and in compliance with our SPDES permit, we also recognize the concerns raised by local elected officials and the community.”

“I am relieved to hear that Holtec has, wisely, decided to stand down from its intention to accelerate the timeline of its discharges into the Hudson River,” said Assemblywoman Dana Levenberg who along with Senator Pete Harckham credited local elected officials and advocates who have worked overtime to demand greater accountability and transparency from Holtec. 

Holtec said the pause will give the company a chance to “further engage with elected officials, the Decommissioning Oversight Board, and state agencies, as well as allow for an opportunity for regulatory agencies to respond to questions raised by stakeholders and the public. We hope this voluntary pause will be viewed positively as an indication of our willingness to work together with the State and with the surrounding community,” the release continued. 

“I am grateful that Holtec listened to our call to halt this ill-advised plan,” said US Senator Kristin Gillibrand. 

“Holtec’s pause will also allow time for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which has jurisdiction over these discharges, to answer the important questions Senators Schumer and Gillibrand recently raised and to directly address concerned members of the public and local elected officials at an upcoming meeting of the Decommissioning Oversight Board,” said Congdon. 

“Holtec is delaying the battle and now it’s up to Governor Hochul to lead the state to come up with a sensible solution of storing the radioactive tritium on site,” said Tina Bongar, an advocate with United for Clean Energy. “Gov Hochul must see the writing on the wall and stop Holtec’s plans for good, now, for the sake of all New Yorkers and our river!” 

“This was the right decision to make,” said Harkcham on Thursday. “I welcome Holtec postponing the planned release of radioactive wastewater into the Hudson River, because all the stakeholders deserve an opportunity to continue our dialogue with the company as it seeks a solution to the stored waste at the Indian Point Energy Center during its decommissioning.”