In a significant victory for environmental conservation, Governor Kathy Hochul has signed the Save the Hudson Bill (S6893/A7208) into law. The legislation effectively thwarts Holtec’s plans to discharge a staggering 1 million gallons of toxic waste into the Hudson River, a move that could have had dire consequences for the waterway’s ecosystem.
County Executive Day expressed relief at the bill’s enactment, stating, “I’m relieved that Governor Kathy Hochul signed the Save the Hudson Bill into law, effectively stopping Holtec from dumping 1 million gallons of toxic waste into the Hudson River. I applaud my fellow Hudson Valley County Executives, our local elected officials, and State and Federal lawmakers for all taking action to stop what would have been an atrocity to our environment.”
Additionally, Rockland County Legislature Second Vice Chair Harriet Cornell issued a statement in response to the legislation, emphasizing the significance of the people’s victory. “I thank Gov. Hochul for validating the wishes of The People with her very clear directive. Today, The People won and Big Greed and Big Lobbyists lost,” stated Cornell.
Reflecting on the historical context, Cornell recalled the 1960s and 1970s, when the Hudson River faced severe contamination issues. The community’s growing concerns about environmental well-being prompted local action. Over the years, concerted efforts by grassroots organizations, scientists, conservationists, and dedicated leaders led to substantial improvements in the Hudson River’s condition.
Cornell expressed bewilderment over Holtec’s proposal to release highly contaminated water from the defunct Indian Point nuclear power plant into the Hudson. She further criticized the company’s assumption that the public would tolerate such an action.
The statement highlighted previous instances where the public rallied against inappropriate uses of the river. Among them were GE’s attempt to evade responsibility for cleaning up PCBs it had dumped into the water, United Water’s plan to use the river as a drinking water source despite its pollutants, and the U.S. Coast Guard’s proposal to anchor barges filled with Bakken crude oil near local riverfronts. In each case, public opposition led to successful defeats of these plans.
Cornell emphasized the multi-decade push to close the Indian Point nuclear power plant due to health and safety concerns. As chair of the Rockland Citizens’ Committee To Close Indian Point, she was actively involved in this effort.
Earlier this year, Cornell sponsored a resolution urging the NY State Senate, Assembly, and Governor Hochul to prohibit radioactive discharge into the river, along with imposing strict fines for violations. The Rockland County Legislature displayed bipartisan unity in supporting the ban. The voices of the public, which vehemently opposed the discharge initiative, have now been heard.
Concluding her statement, Cornell underscored the importance of the majestic Hudson River as a vital space for recreation, scenic beauty, sustenance, and economic growth. She called for a continued commitment to its restoration, rejecting the notion of opting for the easy and harmful route of dumping radioactive waste into the revered watercourse.