If you live in Westchester, Rockland, Putnam, or Orange counties, don’t be alarmed if you hear sirens going off Wednesday morning. Entergy, the company that runs the Indian Point nuclear power plant in Buchanan, will conduct a test of its emergency siren system on May 13 between 10 and 11 a.m. All 172 sirens will sound at full volume for approximately four minutes; no action is required by the public.
Believe it or not, the timing of the test has nothing to do with the heavily reported explosion that occurred on Saturday. The siren test has actually been planned for months.
At about 5:50 p.m. on Saturday, May 9, a transformer containing 20,000 gallons of oil exploded, causing a fire. The plant’s automatic fire suppression system was able to contain the blaze, but the extra water used to fight the fire caused a containment well to overflow. According to initial reports, this allowed oil, firefighting foam, and other liquids to seep into the Hudson River, leaving an oily sheen approximately 75 by 100 feet.
According to Entergy officials, the fire didn’t cause the release of any radiation and did not pose a threat to workers or the public. In fact, according to Entergy spokesperson Patricia Kakridas, the company is not even sure that oil did leak into the river. “We are still investigating the transformer issue, as well as reports of the oil sheen on the river,” Kakridas said Tuesday afternoon. “We will continue to monitor the situation to determine if any fluid leaked, and if so — how much.”
Governor Andrew Cuomo visited the power plant the day after the incident and assured the public that there would be a speedy clean up, as well as an ongoing investigation into the cause of the explosion. “These situations we take seriously. Luckily this was not a major situation. But the emergency protocols are very important,” said Cuomo.
“Anything that happens at this plant obviously raises concerns. This plant is the nuclear plant that is closest to the most densely populated area on the globe. If something goes wrong here, it can go very wrong for a lot of people.”
The Riverkeeper, an environmental group based in Ossining that has long called for the closure of the power plant, was posting photos of what appeared to be oil slicks on social media sites Tuesday afternoon. See below for the latest tweets regarding the fire and oil spill: