State agencies to review Indian Point oil spill

By Ryan Deffenbaugh

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Two state agencies will conduct a “comprehensive review” of an oil spill discovered Sept. 30 at Indian Point Energy Center.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and Department of Public Service announced Monday that the agencies, at the urging of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, will conduct a review of the events that led to the spill at the Buchanan nuclear plant.

Indian Point employees observed a light sheen of oil in the plant’s discharge canal the morning of Sept. 30, according to Patricia Kakridas, a spokesperson for Entergy Corp., the plant’s owner and operator.

No oil sheen was seen in the Hudson River at the time or in subsequent inspections by Entergy, Kakridas said. That matches with what Cuomo reported after he surveyed the area of the Hudson River near Indian Point by boat following the spill on Oct. 2. The governor said most of the spill had been contained within the plant and only a small portion reached the canal.

Workers identified a leaking lubrication oil cooler at the turbine for the plant’s Unit 3 reactor as the source of the oil, Kakridas said, and were able to stop the leak and put a backup oil cooling system in place.

A visual inspection of the nuclear plant the weekend following the spill revealed “rusted and broken” containment systems in and along a discharge canal at the plant, according to a statement from the state DEC. The damage, according to the DEC, could be “inadequate to prevent” releases of contaminants into the Hudson River.

A statement from Cuomo’s office put the amount of the oil spill at 600 gallons.

Representatives from the state DEC have been onsite periodically to observe the cleanup actions from Entergy, according to Kakridas.

“We believe that our actions, including a permanent protective oil boom installed inside the discharge canal and our environmental response, were appropriate,” Kakridas said. “We take the issue seriously and are continuing our investigation.”

As Entergy seeks relicensing of its two Indian Point nuclear reactors from the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Cuomo has repeatedly called for the plant’s closure.

Following the inspection by boat, Cuomo said the spill was the “latest in a litany of operational issues at this aging power plant.”


About the author

Ryan Deffenbaugh covers energy, education, food and beverage and the Sound Shore for the Westchester County Business Journal. He previously worked for Westchester Magazine and The Citizen daily newspaper (Auburn, N.Y.). He started with the Westchester County Business Journal in March 2016.

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