New York’s Indian Point Nuclear Plant Most Dangerous In U.S., Report Says

New York’s Indian Point nuclear plant has been deemed the most dangerous in the United States, potentially putting drinking water supplies at risk.

A disaster at Westchester County’s Indian Point could put drinking water supplies to over 11 million people at risk, according to a report released by the advocacy group, Environment New York, wrote Nyack News and Views. Even a minor problem could leak radioactive contaminants, impacting 11.3 million people, twice as many as any other nuclear facility in the country, said Nyack News and Views.

“The danger of nuclear power is too close to home. Here in New York State, the drinking water for nearly 10 million people is too close to an active nuclear power plant,” said Eric Whalen, Field Organizer with Environment New York, the group that conducted the study. “An accident like the one in Fukushima, Japan or a radioactive leak could spew cancer-causing radioactive waste into the drinking water of millions of New Yorkers.”

As we’ve said, Japan’s recent nuclear crisis has had many wondering how any of the 104 U.S. nuclear reactors would fare in the event of a natural disaster, like a strong earthquake. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has said Indian Point Energy Center, located along the Hudson River, poses the greatest risk. With core damage possible from an earthquake estimated at 1 in 10,000 yearly, the NRC puts the risk on the verge of requiring “immediate concern regarding adequate protection” of the public.

Nyack News and Views pointed out that Indian Point is no stranger to leaks and accidental release of radioactive material. One of the site’s nuclear reactors recently had to be shut down for repairs to a pump leaking radioactive coolant. The report, entitled “Too Close to Home: Nuclear Power and the Threat to Drinking Water,” states that drinking water sources for 11.3 million people in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut resides within 50 miles of Indian Point. This distance, said Nyack News and Views, is considered a possible impact area according to the NRC.

It would take much less than a full-out accident at Indian Point to contaminate water supplies, said Environment New York. Whalen noted that common plant leaks pose a threat to drinking water supplies, said Nyack News and Views. Sadly, these types of leaks are becoming more and more common; about 75% of all U.S. plants see tritium leaks. Tritium, a radioactive hydrogen, is known to cause cancer and genetic defects.

Also this week, a report stated that Indian Point and other nuclear facilities nationwide must reassess their vulnerability following an NRC study that revealed “an increased likelihood” of ground movement. “We will expect U.S. nuclear power plant owners to apply the model to their facilities to develop a new site-specific seismic risk analysis,” said Neil Sheehan, spokesman for the NRC, wrote Nyack News and Views.

Again, the Indian Point 3 reactor showed the greatest risk, this time for catastrophic failure in the event of a regional earthquake. Should this happen, said the Commission, the reactor is the most susceptible for core damage and exposing the public to dangerous radiation levels, wrote Nyack News and Views.

Won-Young Kim, a seismologist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory said, last year, that New York is past due for a significant earthquake. “it can happen anytime soon … we can expect it at any minute, we just don’t know when and where.” The New York City area sits atop the Ramapo Fault Zone, an area of over 185 miles in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, said Nyack News and Views. A study conducted in 2008 at the Observatory concluded that a 6-7-point earthquake is expected to originate from the Ramapo Fault Zone and that another fault zone from that site extends into Southwestern Connecticut and one mile past Indian Point, wrote Nyack News and Views.

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