Westchester Assembly Members Urge Governor to Sign “Save the Hudson” Bill

Seven of Westchester’s eight Assembly members sent a joint letter to Governor Hochul on Tuesday, urging her to sign Assembly Bill 7208 as soon as possible. A.7208 (Levenberg), known colloquially as the “Save the Hudson” bill, would prohibit radioactive wastewater discharges into the Hudson River in connection with the decommissioning of a nuclear power plant. A bipartisan group of elected officials from more than 30 municipalities on both sides of the river have passed resolutions in support of the legislation, and both A.7208 and the Senate version of the bill, S.6893 (Harckham), had bipartisan support in their chambers. The Assembly passed the bill 101-44, and the Senate passed it unanimously. 

The letter comes after months of advocacy by leading environmental groups, and follows previous letters to the Governor from sponsors and co-sponsors of the legislation. The issue has gained new urgency following a
July 31 public forum hosted by the Decommissioning Oversight Board, during which members of the public learned for the first time that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) would permit Holtec to discharge its wastewater without waiting for all of the results of the required testing to be returned. 

“Specifically, results for strontium-90 take longer to receive than the results for other contaminants,” the members write, referring to information shared by a Department of Health representative at the meeting who indicated that strontium-90 results would take around three months to come back. Approximately 90 minutes into the public forum, a questioner asked if testing had already begun, given Holtec’s stated intention to begin discharging the water as early as mid-September. Representatives from the regulatory agencies confirmed that it had not, and that Holtec may still be permitted to discharge its wastewater without waiting for those results. Participants in the room were taken aback by this news.

“Strontium-90 is readily absorbed into the tissues of plants and animals due to its similarity to calcium. It is particularly dangerous for growing children, and is believed to induce bone cancer and leukemia. The idea that Holtec would be permitted to discharge its wastewater into the river before levels of such a contaminant can be verified is alarming,” the letter continues. “Decisions such as this contribute to mistrust, not just of Holtec, but of the state and federal agencies that are tasked with monitoring them and ensuring our safety.”

“How can the public trust the federal regulators who tell us that these discharges are safe if we will not have confirmation of what is actually in the wastewater until after it is released?” asked Assemblywoman Dana Levenberg, lead sponsor of the bill. “Our testing protocols should put safety first. Fining violators after the damage is already done does not protect the public from potential harm. If people do not feel that the Hudson River is safe, it will not continue to be the economic engine that it is today.” 

“I get more questions about the progress of this legislation than any other,” Levenberg continued. “People are very anxious about this issue. We need Governor Hochul to reassure our communities that decommissioning will proceed in a safe way.” 

Assembly members
Gary Pretlow (D-Mount Vernon), Amy Paulin (D-Scarsdale), Steve Otis (D-Rye), Nader Sayegh (D-Yonkers), Chris Burdick (D-Bedford), and MaryJane Shimsky (D-Dobbs Ferry) joined Levenberg in sending the letter. 

“I hope that Governor Hochul will take immediate action to protect our Hudson Valley communities, as Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey has done for Cape Cod,” added Levenberg,
referring to the Healey administration’s recent move to block Holtec from discharging one million gallons of wastewater from the decommissioned Pilgrim nuclear power plant into Cape Cod Bay

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recommended For You

About the Author: User Submitted