Blogs > Docket > Riverkeeper Speaks Out on ‘Epic Failure’ to Manage de facto Nuclear Waste Dump at Indian Point

Riverkeeper Speaks Out on ‘Epic Failure’ to Manage de facto Nuclear Waste Dump at Indian Point

Spent Fuel Pool

Spent fuel pools holding nuclear waste. (Photo: NRC)
View more images on our Flickr site

Spent fuel pools holding nuclear waste. (Photo: NRC)

Indian Point is currently home to thousands of tons of nuclear waste. This highly toxic waste continues accumulating the longer the plant, situated on the Hudson River just 35 miles from Midtown Manhattan, continues to operate. Based on the Federal government’s epic failure to come up with a long-term disposal solution for the nation’s nuclear waste, Indian Point may remain a de facto nuclear waste dump on the banks of the Hudson River indefinitely.

In 2012, Riverkeeper, New York and NRDC won a federal court case, mandating the NRC to finally consider the environmental impacts of indefinite nuclear waste storage onsite at Indian Point and all other U.S. nuclear reactors. The NRC generated a draft generic Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) this past September, offering the public our first chance to comment on this issue of great importance to the safety and health of the environment and our community. However, NRC’s report is highly deficient, and Riverkeeper has let the NRC know it.

More than 1,000 members of the public used Riverkeeper’s online tools to comment on the draft generic EIS. Riverkeeper and a coalition submitted comments today relating to the nationwide impact of the NRC’s flawed and deficient analysis; and in separate comments, Riverkeeper criticized NRC’s environmental assessment for completely disregarding the unique set of circumstances facing Indian Point:

  • Indian Point sits just 24 miles north of NYC and has the highest surrounding population density of all U.S. nuclear plants, with more than 17 million people living within 50 miles, which makes emergency evacuation impossible;
  • the plant is adjacent and nearby to State designated significant fish and coastal wildlife habitats;
  • it is less than 15 miles away from critical drinking water supplies that provide 9 million New Yorkers with unfiltered drinking water;
  • it sits atop the intersection of two active earthquake faults that could produce upwards of a 7.0 magnitude earthquake, which Indian Point was not initially built to withstand;
  • the spent fuel pools storing the toxic waste at the site are overly crowded and highly vulnerable to terrorism and catastrophic accidents; and,
  • the pools at Indian Point have already degraded and leak radionuclides to the groundwater and contaminated the Hudson River.

As a result of these unique factors, the risks of storing toxic nuclear waste at Indian Point in-perpetuity are serious, and cannot be ignored. A spent fuel pool fire could result in a large scale radiological release that would affect an inordinate number of people and potentially render the NYC metropolitan area uninhabitable, while radiological leaks from spent fuel pools may seriously harm the ecology of the Hudson River. Yet, the NRC has not accounted for these far-ranging impacts in its draft generic EIS.

By conducting a legally deficient and incomplete environmental review that generically waives off critical risks and impacts associated with the prospect of centuries of nuclear waste storage at individual reactor sites, NRC wants to exempt onsite waste storage from any and all future environmental review, ever. This is unacceptable, and NRC must step up and complete an adequate analysis before finalizing its EIS. If it does not, Riverkeeper will be ready to bring the NRC to court—again!

Related Documents

Tell Gov. Hochul to block invasive species at the Erie and Champlain canals
Become a Member