U.S. to Probe Radiation Leak at Entergy Indian Point Plant

  • Company says elevated tritium levels found in groundwater
  • New York Governor Cuomo has called for plant to be closed

A U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission specialist will investigate the cause of a spike in radioactivity in groundwater at Entergy Corp.’s Indian Point nuclear power plant north of New York City.

The radiation protection specialist was expected to arrive at the Indian Point complex Monday, agency spokesman Neil Sheehan said by phone. New Orleans-based Entergy notified the agency late last week it had detected record levels of tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen, in water under the plant.

The elevated levels followed a pump failure that caused a spill of radioactive water during maintenance at one of the plant’s reactors, Sheehan said. The spill apparently occurred between Jan. 11 and Jan. 26, according to Sheehan, who added there is no threat to public health.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has campaigned for the closure of the Indian Point plant given its proximity to New York City, ordered the state’s environmental and health agencies on Sunday to investigate the effects of the spill. Cuomo’s office described the radioactivity levels found in groundwater as "alarming." 

Entergy fell 1.1 percent on Monday to close at $71.45 a share.

The spill occurred during preparations to refuel the reactor, Entergy spokeswoman Patricia Kakridas said Monday in an e-mail. Sheehan said there are no drinking water wells nearby and groundwater under the plant flows through fractured rock into the Hudson River where tritium is diluted to undetectable levels.

Indian Point has a generating capacity of more than 2,000 megawatts, or about 25 percent of the power used in New York City and Westchester County, according to Entergy’s website. It’s located about 27 miles (43 kilometers) north of New York and can generate enough electricity to supply power to about 2 million homes.

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