Entergy Corp. said elevated levels of radioactive material found in groundwater at the 2,000-megawatt Indian Point nuclear power facility north of New York City don’t pose a threat to public safety.
Increased levels of tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen, were found in three monitoring wells out of several dozen at the plant, New Orleans-based Entergy said in a statement after New York Governor Andrew Cuomoon on Saturday, Feb. 6, ordered an investigation into the incident. While the levels don’t meet company standards, they are more than a thousand times below federally allowed limits and represent “no health or safety consequence to the public” Entergy said.
Cuomo has long campaigned for Indian Point to be closed down, arguing that evacuating a metropolis like New York would be impossible after a major radioactive accident like the one at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi plant in 2011. In December, he ordered the state’s utility regulator to look into operations and safety protocols after an unexpected shutdown at the plant.
The leak of tritium didn’t affect any source of drinking water onsite or offsite, and it likely reached the ground during recent work at the facility, Entergy said in the statement.
Cuomo’s office described the levels of radioactivity found in the groundwater as “alarming” and said the governor had ordered Department of Environmental Conservation Acting Commissioner Basil Seggos and Department of Health Commissioner Howard Zucker to investigate.
Indian Point has a generating capacity of more than 2,000 megawatts of power, or about 25 percent of the electric power used in New York City and Westchester County, according to Entergy’s website. It’s located 27 miles (43 kilometers) north of New York and can generate enough electricity to supply power to about 2 million homes.