PIX 11 News NYC: Clean Water Advocate Swims Past Nuclear Power Plant On Earth Day
Swimmer Strokes through Radioactive Waste Leaking from Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant into the Hudson River on Earth Day, FriDay, April 22, 2016
Clean water advocate risks arrest and health to call for shutdown of aging facility; Urges supporters to call the White House at 202-456-1111 to ask for closure and cleanup of Indian Point
On Earth Day, Friday, April 22, Clean Water Advocate Christopher Swain (Swain's photo appears at bottom of this advisory) will swim past the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant on the Hudson River.
Swain, the New York City native who swam the entire length of the Hudson River in 2004, is getting back into the river to call attention to the critical health and safety issues raised by a long history of accidents, radioactive leaks, and Clean Water Act violations at the Indian Point Energy Center nuclear power facility in Buchanan, NY.
Swain’s 2.1-mile (3.4 km) swim will take him from Stony Point, NY (on the West Bank of the Hudson, downstream of Indian Point) upriver past the Indian Point facility, to Charles Point Pier Park in Peekskill, NY (on the East Side of the Hudson, upstream of Indian Point).
Swain urges supporters to contact the White House at 202-456-1111 and ask the President to support the shutdown, decommissioning, and comprehensive cleanup of the Indian Point facility.
DATE: Earth Day, Friday, April 22, 2016
TIME: 10:45 a.m. Press Conference, followed by swim
WHERE: 31 West Shore Drive, Stony Point, NY (on banks of Hudson River across from Indian Point)
VISUALS: Wearing his yellow, high-visibility, puncture-resistant drysuit that protects him from cold water--but not from nuclear radiation--Swain will introduce his crew, demonstrate his Geiger Counter, and then get in the water and swim upriver past Indian Point. On the water video of the swim available upon request after the event.
MEDIA CONTACTS: Christopher Swain, 617-233-4120, firstname.lastname@example.org or Sue McGovern, 781-315-3400, email@example.com
The purpose of Swain's swim is to advocate for a complete shutdown and decommissioning of all three aging generating units at the Indian Point facility. In addition, he is advocating for a comprehensive cleanup of all contaminated land and groundwater, an effort that would continue until radioactive materials are no longer able to migrate into the Hudson River.
Says Swain, “Indian Point could never get a license to operate today. It is a poorly-designed and vulnerable facility that utilizes out-of-date 1970’s technology. The plant has a long history of leaks and accidents. The plant is built on a major earthquake fault line, and is located just thirty-five miles upwind of Times Square in New York City. Indian Point puts the health of millions of people at risk. Even a kindergartener could see that continuing to operate this plant is an unsafe decision.”
Accompanied by safety kayaker and educator, Nicole Butterfield, Swain will use his swim to measure, map, and document the state of the Hudson River near Indian Point. He will sample the water temperature, pH, and radiation levels as he swims past the Indian Point facility. Swain also will collect his heart rate and GPS position data, take photographs, and film short videos during the swim. Data and content collected during the swim will be shared on social media, with news outlets, and with science teachers throughout the Hudson River Watershed.
When Swain stroked past the Indian Point facility during his 2004 entire length swim of the Hudson River, he was briefly detained and threatened with arrest by an armed unit of the New York State Naval Militia. During his Earth Day 2016 swim, Swain will be exercising his federally-protected right to swim in navigable U.S. waters, and will stay well clear of the security zone around the plant.
This Indian Point swim is part of Swain’s “Campaign for Swimmable Waterways,” an effort designed to energize cleanups of some of New York’s most impaired and polluted waterways and watersheds, such as the Gowanus Canal, Newtown Creek, and the East River.
For more information, please visit: www.SwimWithSwain.org, follow Swain on Twitter @SwimWithSwain, or search “SwimWithSwain” on Facebook and Instagram.
INDIAN POINT SWIM CREW MEMBER QUOTES:
Paget Walker, Community Coordinator: “I am a working mom from Brooklyn. I live just 40 miles downwind of Indian Point. As NYC parents, I think we should be aware that Indian Point is a real risk to the health of our families. The plant is out of date, has a history of accidents and is not safe. It's time to shut it down.”
Nicole Butterfield, Safety Kayaker/Educator: “I’m an English teacher and mother of three, working in Tarrytown, 14 miles from Indian Point. We study the literature of the Hudson River Valley, and every year students become curious about the plant and how it affects our community. As an educator, it is my responsibility to ensure my students' safety and wellbeing. I’m doing my best, but Indian Point is a huge health and safety threat that looms over us every day, and that is unacceptable.”
Christopher Swain was born in New York City. He is 48 years old. He has two daughters, ages 12 and 15.
During the summer of 2004, Swain swam the entire 315-mile length of the Hudson River, in support of clean water.
In October 2015, to kick off his Campaign For Swimmable Waterways in NY, Swain swam the entire length of Brooklyn’s Gowanus Canal Superfund Site. In December 2015, he swam the entire length of the sewage and oil-soaked Newtown Creek waterway.
Since 1996, Swain has made presentations about clean water to over 80,000 North American students.
Indian Point removes water from the nearby Hudson River at the rate of 1.6 million gallons per minute. Despite the use of fish screens, the cooling system kills over a billion fish eggs and larvae annually. According to one NRC report from 2010, as few as 38% of alewives survive the screens.
Radioactive leakage from the plant containing several radioactive isotopes, such as strontium-90, cesium-137, cobalt-60, nickel-63 and tritium, a rarely occurring isotope of hydrogen, flows into groundwater that eventually enters the Hudson River. In the last year, nine leaks have occurred - one tritium leak produced a 65000% spike in a groundwater-monitoring well and four leaks resulted in temporary reactor shutdown.
Swain will be using a portable Geiger counter to measure the radiation dose he receives during his swim.
There are three generating units at Indian Point. Unit 1 is permanently shut down and awaiting decommissioning. The original 40-year operating licenses for Indian Point units 2 and 3 expired in September 2013 and December 2015, respectively. Entergy has applied for license extensions and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is moving toward granting a twenty-year extension for each reactor. Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo, however, wants the units shut down at the end of their current license periods.As of midnight on September 28, 2013, Unit 2 has entered its "Period of Extended Operation" (PEO) until the NRC makes a final determination on its license renewal application.
- According to one list that ranks U.S. nuclear power plants by their likelihood of having a major natural disaster-related incident, Indian Point is the U.S. nuclear facility most likely to be hit by a natural disaster, because it is built on a major fault line and thus vulnerable to catastrophic damage from an earthquake.