Facing public criticism from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Entergy (NYSE:ETR) stressed Feb. 10 that elevated tritium levels in groundwater at the Indian Point nuclear energy center “continue to pose no threat to public health or safety.”
Days earlier, Cuomo promised to have state agency regulators investigate elevated tritium levels found in onsite groundwater monitoring wells at the nuclear station located less than 30 miles from New York City. The governor, who opposes 20-year license extensions for Indian Point Units 2 and 3, called the tritium situation an unacceptable failure by the company.
“This latest failure at Indian Point is unacceptable,” Cuomo said.
But Entergy said Feb. 10 that updated findings from follow up groundwater tests at the Indian Point nuclear power plant confirm anticipated fluctuations in tritium levels. Tritium is a weak radioactive isotope of hydrogen, the company noted.
The most recent samples from onsite groundwater monitoring wells show elevated levels of tritium from the first readings – with the highest concentration rising by about 80%, fluctuations that can be expected as the material migrates, Entergy said.
Even with the new readings, there is no impact to public health or safety, and although these values remain less than one-tenth of one percent of federal reporting guidelines, Entergy again made voluntary notification to the NRC, state agencies and other key stakeholders.
Samples will continue to be taken regularly, Entergy said, adding that it is being assisted by third-party experts. The company went on to say that the “likely cause” could be related to the processing of water in preparation for a regularly scheduled refueling outage at the plant’s Unit 2 reactor.
“Workers are inspecting the pump and drainage systems associated with those recent preparations, which were completed in January, to determine the most likely pathway for that water to have reached the ground,” Entergy said.
Indian Point Energy Center, in Buchanan, N.Y., is home to two operating nuclear power plants, Unit 2 and Unit 3, which generate approximately 2,000 MW and supply about 25% of power used annually in New York City and Westchester County.