Photo shows oil sheen on Hudson after Indian Point fire, but Entergy says no harm to area

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A photo taken by clean water advocacy group Riverkeeper that purportedly shows oil leaking from the Indian Point nuclear plant. (Riverkeeper)

BUCHANAN, N.Y.  (PIX11) – An environmental organization has released a photo showing an oily sheen across the Hudson River, purportedly runoff from yesterday’s transformer fire at the Indian Point nuclear plant.

Clean water advocacy group Riverkeeper sent patrols out onto the river after the fire, looking for possible discharges of transformer oil and/or of firefighting foam in the Hudson. According to Riverkeeper President Paul Gallay,  a boat crew found areas of sheen at all locations except at the Peekskill waterfront.

The oil sheen and notable odor were heaviest close to the Indian Point power plant.  Riverkeeper also noticed that a containment boom at the power plant designed to hold back a leak had a gap in it and notified the DEC, Gallay said. A second boom was being deployed at 9:10 a.m. on Sunday.

However, Jerry Nappi a spokesman for Entergy/Indian Point Energy Center, says that oil sheen in the river near the plant is environmentally safe.

Nappi told PIX11 News that the foam used to extinguish electrical fires caused by the transformer, contain an animal protein that’s environmentally safe. Some of that dielectric fluid from that foam contains a light weight mineral oil that seeped into the river.

That oil can give the illusion that it’s fuel or a different type of oil that would be harmful to the environment, when in actuality, it is not.

Nappi added that the booms seen in the river near the site, were used just as a precaution.

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. 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.

“This is a problem to be taken with the utmost seriousness,” Gallay said. “Indian Point has a long, disturbing history of operational and environmental problems. The plant’s aging infrastructure has caught up to it and we must see that it is closed or these problems will only worsen with potentially catastrophic results.”

Riverkeeper says the transformer fire at Indian Point nuclear power plant, is the third in the past eight years and demonstrates why Indian Point must close.

No injuries were reported Saturday, and there was no release of radiation, Indian Point energy officials said Sunday.  Officials are still trying to minimize environmental harm from leaking oil and a flame-retardant foam used to put out the fire.

Governor Andrew Cuomo, who inspected the aftermath of the fire last night, expressed concerns regarding the volume of foam and oil released, saying that it could enter the river through storm drains.