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Cuomo Seeks Suspension of Gas Pipeline Construction

Cites safety incidents including Indian Point's February leak that caused groundwater radioactivity levels to rise 65,000 percent

March 01, 2016

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo urged federal energy regulators on Monday to suspend construction on a Spectra Energy Corp. Algonquin natural-gas pipeline saying it may pose safety risks because of its proximity to Entergy Corp.'s Indian Point nuclear power plant.

In a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the Cuomo administration urged the agency to postpone the pipeline until a safety review is completed. Cuomo cited seven incidents in the last year at the Buchanan, Westchester County, nuclear facility including the February 6, 2016 leak of radioactive tritium-contaminated water into the area's groundwater. An investigation was called for by the state's Health Department and the Department of Environmental Conservation after learning the plant's owner, Entergy Corporation, reported "alarming levels of radioactivity" at three monitoring wells. Actual radioactivity levels rose more than 65,000 percent.

"Although the project applicant has agreed to more stringent construction measures near Indian Point, ongoing state investigations will assess the adequacy of these measures and may also reveal new information about the environmental, health and safety risks posed by the project's siting," Cuomo's office said.

Riverkeeper, the Ossining-based environmental group, said only Indian Point itself has done a review of the risk associated with the pipeline, saying Cuomo is right for calling for additional steps. "There are legitimate concerns that Indian Point could become severely compromised — even catastrophically —  in the event of a pipeline rupture, and the Cuomo administration is taking the right steps in conducting an analysis," the group's president, Paul Gallay, said in a statement.

Source: Star-Gazette; Bloomburg; NY Dept of Homeland Security

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