Cortlandt community forum discusses decommissioning of Indian Point nuclear plant
Hudson Valley residents aired their concerns Thursday night about how the decommissioning of the Indian Point nuclear plant in Buchanan might impact the environment.
The state Department of Public Service hosted the community forum at the Cortlandt Town Hall.
Indian Point closed in April 2021 following pressure from activists and lawmakers. Some of those same people returned with more environmental concerns.
Indian Point owner Holtec International is decommissioning the facility, which is a meticulous process that could last 15 years.
Some people are concerned about possible negative impacts to the environment from all the radioactive materials still on the site that must be disposed.
The community forum was a joint meeting with officials from the state Department of Public Service, a special decommissioning oversight board and the Indian Point Closure Task Force, which was set up to help communities impacted by the closure.
Environmentalists recently told News 12 they are concerned that Holtec is going to release 1 million gallons of wastewater into the Hudson River. The wastewater contains a radioactive substance called tritium.
Some experts working with the board said there is a safe way to discharge the wastewater into the river but not everyone is on board with that idea.
Energy consultant and former Indian Point employee Paul Blanche is inclined to agree with the oversight board's expert. That expert said he has not found studies that say water with low levels of tritium harm wildlife or people.
Blanche said if tritium levels stay beneath the federal government's limits, it would work.
"If they're in accordance with federal regulations for discharge concentration, I don't have a problem with it," Blanche said.
Activist and retired attorney Nancy Vann does not agree with that option.
"It doesn't really cover all the possibilities," she said. Vann does not support releasing the wastewater, no matter how well it is treated.
She wants the board to think about past nuclear disasters like Chernobyl and Three Mile Island and better study tritium's longer-term effects.
"You don't always know which particular particle might have affected a cell in your body that then prompted a cancer to grow," Vann said.
While they are far apart on the wastewater disposal issue, Blanche and Vann have similar problems with the entire process. They both saif the federal government is taking it too easy on Indian Point's owner, Holtec International.