Environmental damage a concern after transformer fire at Indian Point nuclear power facility

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BUCHANAN, N.Y. (PIX11) -- The investigation into the cause of a transformer failure at the Indian Point nuclear power facility continues Sunday as officials try to minimize environmental harm from leaking oil and a flame-retardant foam used to put out the fire.

On Saturday, witnesses saw a huge explosion and ensuing smoke and fire near Indian Point, 40 miles north of New York City in Westchester County.

(Gustavus Gricius / Twitter)

(Gustavus Gricius / Twitter)

At 6 p.m., a transformer at Indian Point Unit 3 caught fire, and was quickly extinguished by a sprinkler. Reactors on site automatically shut down safely. Because the fire was outside the radiological area, no employees were evacuated. Local firefighters responded as a precaution.

No injuries were reported and there was no release of radiation, Indian Point energy officials said Sunday.  As engineers investigate the cause of the failure, Indian Point 2, the unaffected nuclear plant, is operating at 100%.  Because of its proximity to the Hudson River, there is still concern over environmental hazards.

Governor Cuomo said Saturday evening that runoff from the damaged plant could be a problem -- it began leaking oil which is mixing with a flame-retardant foam that was used to extinguish the blaze.

"There is a lot of foam and a lot of oil, now we’re worried about that leaking into the Hudson River," Cuomo said.  "The plant abuts the Hudson river and the storm drains goes down into the river, so we’re worried about that."

(Myles Miller / PIX11)

(Myles Miller / PIX11)

Of the four emergency levels, this incident falls on the lowest level, classified as an "unusual event." Indian Point confirmed there is "no danger" to community or employees. Governor Andrew Cuomo arrived just before 8 p.m. to assess the situation.

The Indian Point nuclear power facility produces 25% of NYC and Westchester's electricity with nuclear power. The facility's two active units generate a combined total of 2010 megawatts of electricity.

Verplanck Fire Department is responding to the scene. Indian Point's owner, Entergy, did not immediately respond for comment.


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