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High levels of radioactive material found in water under N.Y. nuclear plant

ASSOCIATED PRESS | March 22, 2006
By Jim Fitzgerald

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – High levels of a radioactive material – nearly three times the amount permitted in drinking water – were found in groundwater near the Hudson River beneath a nuclear plant, the owner said Tuesday.

The groundwater does not intersect drinking supplies, and although the strontium-90 is believed to have reached the Hudson it would be safely diluted in the river, said Jim Steets, spokesman for Entergy Nuclear Northeast.

The strontium – which in high doses can cause cancer – was found in a well dug in a search for the source of a leak of radioactive water at the Indian Point complex, about 30 miles north of New York City.

The test well is among nine dug in an attempt to pinpoint the leak. Contaminated water was first found in August.

Entergy's finding matched tests by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on the same sample, Steets said.

The sample also yielded tritium, another potential carcinogen, at levels well above the drinking water standard. High levels had been found earlier in another test well. The nuclear commission announced Monday that it would investigate releases of tritium at Indian Point and other plants.

Neil Sheehan, a commission spokesman, said the agency still believes the radioactivity – given that it is not in drinking water – is well below the level that would “pose a risk to public health and safety.”

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