Nuclear Waste in the Hudson: What New Legislation Means
Countless New Yorkers are celebrating after Governor Kathy Hochul announced the signing of new legislation meant to guard the Hudson River from radioactive waste.
While broad in language, the bill is seen as a direct response to the Indian Point nuclear power plant. Decommissioned in 2021, earlier plans for the plant may have included letting an estimated 1 million gallons of radioactive water to be flushed into the Hudson River. So what will happen to the wastewater now?
The Fight for a Clean Hudson River
The fight for a clean Hudson River has spanned decades. From Pete Seeger and the Clearwater campaigning to remove PCBs dumped by General Electric to the pushback against nuclear powerplants, countless New Yorkers continue to make their voices heard. The next step, however, may be the most difficult.
What Will Happen with Radioactive Waste?
While many are curious to hear solutions for the wastewater, the governor's office remained broad in their response. "The Administration will continue to work closely with federal regulators, [Indian Point owners] Holtec, local officials and the State’s Decommissioning Oversight Board to identify feasible and acceptable alternatives of wastewater disposal", they shared in a press release. According to Holtec, there are a few options to consider.
About Holtec International
Holtec Decommissioning International, a subsidiary of Holtec International, is in charge of the decommissioning process. Their website, complete with a sunny photo of green, rolling hills, promises "a cleaner tomorrow" through "the safe and efficient decommissioning of shuttered nuclear power plants". Decommissioning options were explained briefly, if not clearly. From Holtec Decommissioning International:
Contaminated materials can be disposed of in two ways: decontaminated on site or removed and shipped to a waste processing, storage or disposal facility.
Onsite decontamination, branded as "Safe Storage", relies on storing radioactive materials onsite. In this case, Holtec notes that "time is used as a decontaminating agent.". Active decontamination involves the transport of radioactive materials to "permitted, licensed and registered facilities". Watch the final moments of Indian Point as it shut down for good below.