DEC: Entergy to pay $1.2 million penalty for petroleum spill in Hudson River after fire at Indian Point nuclear facility

Entergy will pay a $1.2 million civil penalty under the terms of a consent order for significant Clean Water Act violations at its Indian Point Unit 2 and Unit 3 facilities in Buchanan, the state Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens announced. In addition, Entergy agreed to upgrade the containment systems which protect the Hudson River from accidental spills and unpermitted releases.

The violations stem from a 2010 explosion and fire at the facility when petroleum was released into the Hudson River. An investigation into the incident revealed violations of the Clean Water Act, Chemical Bulk Storage Regulations and Navigation Laws.

“The conditions at Entergy’s Indian Point facility caused a failure of a transformer, resulting in an explosion and the release of thousands of gallons of petroleum into the Hudson River,” said DEC Commissioner Joe Martens. “Long-standing problems cannot be left unaddressed at nuclear facilities and Clean Water Act standards must be complied with to protect public health and our state’s natural resources.”

In November 2010, the #21 main transformer at Indian Point failed and resulted in an explosion that breached the walls of the transformer causing a fire and the release of petroleum used to cool the transformers into the Hudson River.

A DEC investigation revealed that long-standing structural conditions prevented the containment moat from retaining the petroleum as designed. More than 10,000 gallons of oil were recovered from the transformer, the containment moat and areas outside the containment moat including the discharge canal, the Hudson River shoreline and the Hudson River. DEC’s investigation also revealed violations of Chemical Bulk Storage Regulations at the facility.

The terms of the Consent Order agreed upon by DEC and Entergy, require Entergy to pay a $1.2 million civil penalty, including $600,000 for a to-be-determined Environmental Benefit Project, $62,000 to reimburse the state for natural resources damages to the Hudson River and $5,000 for assessment and restoration oversight costs. Entergy will work with DEC and local stakeholders to identify potential EBPs in the next 90 days. An additional $225,000 penalty was suspended contingent upon Entergy complying with the terms of the Consent Order.

Entergy also agreed to take the following corrective actions at Indian Point Unit 2 and Unit 3:

– Properly test, inspect and if necessary replace any and all of Indian Point’s chemical bulk storage facilities;

– Properly test, inspect, repair and maintain the remaining three main transformer containment structures to avoid similar environmental releases in the future; and

– Complete all necessary repair work in 2012.