FROM THE START IT SOUNDS CRAZY. Imagine you have a lot of poison that you’ve got to get rid of. It won’t go away for years on its own. You could bury it in the back yard and hope no one plants a garden over it. But what do you do if the poison is dissolved in a million gallons of water?
Relax. The solution is right at hand. Why not pour it into the Hudson River? Yes, that Hudson River. It’s close by and who would notice? But before you hook up the hoses you should check with the government. In this case it would be the federal government.
And that’s where the case of this potential catastrophe sits, except for a few more facts as we know them. The sources of this poison are the three, decommissioned nuclear power plants on the east shore of the Hudson in the Village of Buchanan in Westchester County. It’s known as Indian Point. A company called Holtec has the contract to clean up the site.
The toxic radioactive substance is tritium. Exposure to tritium is linked to cancer. The company wants permission to dilute the tritium and dispose of it in the Hudson. A million gallons.
Here’s one other factor: Holtec wants this part of its radioactive waste discharged into the Hudson where the river flows past the Village of Saugerties in Ulster County and the hamlet of Rhinecliff in Dutchess County. The Ulster and Dutchess dump sites are north of Indian Point.
This dumping plan may be based on the assumption that the river will carry the tritium downstream to New York and the Atlantic Ocean. And that is likely to happen… roughly half of the time. But the Hudson River is an estuary; the flow is governed by ocean tides, which may push some of that tritium upstream past communities in Columbia and Greene counties. Is that in the Holtec plan?
Here are a couple of additional questions: Did the company make plans to protect the communities that use the river as a back-up water supply? And how, exactly, will it keep this carcinogen out of the natural food chain?
Holtec did not build the Indian Point reactors nor did it fast-talk investors into an industry where a critical piece is missing: a responsible way to dispose of it radioactive waste. But that’s no excuse to pursue this flawed proposal to hide its tritium poison in one of the great rivers of the World.
It now appears that federal regulators and Holtec are preparing to move soon to begin to discharge this load of tritium into the Hudson. This should not be allowed at least until residents from throughout the region and beyond have been alerted to the plan and given a chance to comment on revised options to this impending international dilemma.
Please contact your federal elected officials and ask them not to allow the Hudson River to become a dumping ground for more radioactive waste and remind them that this is a regional matter affecting an area we all know and love.
Write, call, go online to:
Senator Charles Schumer
United States Senate
322 Hart Senate Offfice Building
Washington DC 20510
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
Congressman Marc Molinaro
U.S. House of Representatives
1207 Longworth House Office
Washington, DC 20515