Oil Sheen Visible on Hudson River After Fire at NY Nuclear Plant

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Oil Sheen Visible on Hudson River After Fire at NY Nuclear Plant

Latest accident is evidence that "it's time to close Indian Point and move on," says watchdog group

The Indian Point facility on the Hudson River. (Photo: Tony Fischer/flickr/cc)

A gigantic oil sheen has been spotted in New York's Hudson River, following an explosion, fire, and oil leak that occurred Saturday at the Indian Point nuclear facility in Buchanan, just south of Peekskill.

According to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, oil made its way into the facility's discharge drains during the fire. "Several thousand gallons may have overflowed the transformer moat," said Neil Sheehan, a spokesman for the NRC.

The fire didn't cause the release of any radiation and didn't pose a threat to workers or the public, according to a statement by Entergy Corp, the owner of the nuclear power plant. The transformers are used to step up power produced by the plant before it is transmitted to the grid.

However, "there is no doubt that oil was discharged into the Hudson River," New York Governor Andrew Cuomo reportedly said at Indian Point on Sunday. "We have booms in the water now around the discharged pipe to collect any oil that may be in the river."

The Journal News cites a state official as saying the oil leak "left a sheen of 75-by-100 feet just south of the two reactors, and is likely expanding."

A boat crew for the watchdog group Riverkeeper—which patrolled the Hudson off Indian Point after Saturday's transformer fire, looking for possible discharges of transformer oil and firefighting foam into the river—found areas of sheen in many locations, and a "notable odor" in the vicinity of the power plant.

Riverkeeper also noticed that a containment boom at the power plant, designed to hold back the oil leak, itself had a gap in it and notified the state Department of Environmental Conservation, resulting in the deployment of a second boom.

The accident and subsequent contamination are further evidence that the plant should be closed, the group said, noting that "fire safety at Indian Point has been an ongoing concern" and that the weekend's incident comes only days after an unplanned shutdown at the plant due to a steam leak.

"The history of fire safety at Indian Point is one of mistakes, illegality, and failure by both Entergy and the NRC," said Riverkeeper president Paul Gallay. "The plant should not be operated under its current fire safety regime. The plant is not cheaper, it's not safe, and it’s not necessary. It's time to close Indian Point and move on."

According to the Journal News, U.S. Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY), said Sunday the NRC should not renew Indian Point's license for their reactors, a matter the body is currently considering.

"This latest episode proves that Indian Point remains a serious threat to public health and safety," Lowey said in a statement. "We are extremely fortunate that a catastrophic scenario did not unfold, and I urge officials to conduct a swift and thorough investigation."

The oil sheen is clearly visible in this Riverkeeper video:

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