After a months-long campaign by residents and environmentalists, Gov. Kathy Hochul signed legislation to ban the deactivated nuclear power plant from discharging treated waste into the river nearby. But what happens now with the site’s 1 million gallons of radioactive water is uncertain, and advocates are pressing the state to step in further.
Mariana Simões and Ryan Pullido |
Last season, the city’s 25 beaches saw a total of 244 closures, either because water quality exceeded the city’s safety standards—determined by testing for the bacteria found in fecal matter—or because of excessive rainfall, which increases the likelihood of pollution entering local waterways. That’s up from 94 such closures during the 2021 season.
The deactivated nuclear power plant, now run by Holtec, wants to discharge 1 million gallons of radioactive waste into the river as early as August. The dumping will release into the air and waterways an element called tritium that can increase the risk of cancer and lead to miscarriages and birth defects.
“As yet another hot and humid summer approaches, exacerbated by the prospect of rising temperatures, we have fewer public pools per capita than any other major U.S. city and 520 miles of waterfront. As Paris reclaims its riverbanks for public recreation, here we sit in the Big Apple, surrounded by the Hudson, Harlem, and East Rivers, with zero access for swimming.”
The complaint alleges that the companies allow contaminated wastewater to wash into Jamaica Bay.
The measure would have added 41,000 miles of streams to the states regulatory system.
Research suggests that pollutants from untreated sewage reduce the capacity of local wetlands to absorb carbon and mitigate the impact of greenhouse gases.
The aim of the aeration system is to oxygenate the creek to support aquatic life. But some advocates worry the bubbles are doing more harm than good.
While praising many aspects of the de Blasio administration’s approach to cleaning up the city’s polluted waterways, 20 City Councilmembers tell the mayor they represent ‘ groups and constituents who harbor grave concerns’ about the way those clean-ups have been planned.