Cleanup Continues In Hudson River After Indian Point Oil Spill

BUCHANAN, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A weekend fire at the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant continues to concern officials and residents wondering how much oil leaked into the Hudson?

After a transformer at the non-nuclear part of the plant caught fire twice on Saturday, samples taken from the Hudson River near Indian Point are defying quick evaluation, CBS2’s Lou Young reported.

“The volume of oil and water exceeded the capacity of the holding tank and then spilled out onto the ground, the ground empties into the drain system, the drain system goes right into the Hudson River,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday.

Despite booms in the water to collect the spilled oil, the environmental group Riverkeeper said it shot footage of oil slicks in the river beyond the booms.

Locals also noticed the slick.

“I saw a big stripe of oil,” said fisherman George Buna.

“I’m here 64 years, I’ve seen it all but I’m looking at this slick right now that’s out there and it doesn’t look good,” said Tom Crawford, who used to work for the plant.

Environmental watchdogs said they’re finding it further and further from the plant with each passing tide cycle and clean-up is not an option, Young reported.

“There’s no way to clean this up because it’s spread out too far, and it’s in a moving system,” said Hudson Riverkeeper John Lipscomb said.

The transformer that burned held 20,000 gallons or the equivalent of two-to-three tanker trucks worth of light colored cooling oil, Young reported.

The plant’s owners don’t know how much oil got out, Young reported.

“The oil is really unquantifiable at this point,” said Entergy Spokesman Jerry Nappi. “We’re really going to have to look at how much was captured; it’ll give us a better sense of what could’ve reached the river.”

Riverkeeper’s Executive Director Paul Gallay is urging the public to push for the closure of the plant.

“Sometimes the closer you live to a plant like this, the more you just hope and wish and pray,” he told 1010 WINS. “You whistle past the graveyard but that’s not good enough anymore…This cannot continue, we’ve got to close Indian Point before it closes us.”

While Entergy Corp., the company that operates the plant, said that sheen could just be from foam used to fight the transformer fire, the governor said there’s no doubt oil from the transformer made its way into the Hudson River, the question now is how much?

“It’s a very light, a mineral type oil so the combination of the protections we have in place along with the way the oil is designed has resulted in really no or little consequence to the environment,” spokesman Nappi added.

Gallay said Entergy is downplaying the situation.

“Entergy is trying to make light of it,” Gally said. “Mineral oil is one of the most toxic substances that they use in that plant. So there’s a lot of oil in the water and it needs to be contained and cleaned up as quickly as possible.”

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Entergy said the transformer was relatively new and they should last 30 to 40 years, so they are now investigating to see what caused it to fail.

The company has ruled out foul play, no radioactive material escaped and there’s no health or safety risk to the public.

Crawford defended the plant saying, “They’re pretty safe up there, they do everything as safe as can be.”

Crews are closely watching the transformer just in case it reignites.

Indian Point will continue to run at half-capacity for a month while repairs are underway.

The company said it could be weeks before Indian Point 3 is reopened.

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