Radioactive material has leaked into the groundwater below a nuclear power plant north of New York City, prompting a state investigation on Saturday and condemnation from governor Andrew Cuomo.
Cuomo ordered an investigation into “alarming levels of radioactivity” found at three monitoring wells at the Indian Point energy center in Buchanan, New York, about 40 miles north of Manhattan.
“Our first concern is for the health and safety of the residents close to the facility and ensuring the groundwater leak does not pose a threat,” Cuomo wrote in a letter that directed health and environmental officials to investigate.
In one location radioactivity levels rose nearly 65,000%, from 12,300 picocuries per liter to over 8,000,000 picocuries per liter. The Environmental Protection Agency’s maximum contaminant level for tritium in drinking water is 20,000 picocuries per liter, though Entergy, the company that owns the plant, emphasized that only groundwater, and not drinking water, were contaminated.
The governor’s office said the contamination had not moved offsite. Cuomo has encouraged Entergy to shut down Indian Point, but to keep its other plants further upstate open.
He directed health and environmental officials “to determine the extent of the release, its likely duration, cause and potential impacts to the environment and public health.”