Elevated Tritium Levels at NY Nuke

Tuesday, August 21, 2012 @ 07:08 PM gHale


Increased levels of a radioactive form of hydrogen found at Nine Mile Nuclear Station in Scriba, NY, pose no health risks to workers or the public, a company spokeswoman said.

Elevated levels of tritium were in a water sample from inside unit 1 at the Scriba plant, said Constellation Energy Nuclear Group spokeswoman Jill Lyon.

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They found Tritium in the water late Monday afternoon last week, Lyon said. Regulatory agencies, including the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), found out about the issue the next day.

So far, officials believe the tritium entered unit 1 in ground water leaking into the building, Lyon said. Ground water monitoring wells and discharge pathways, such as storm drains, have undergone testing but are not believed to be the source.

“We’re still investigating where it came from,” Lyon said. “Until we know the source, I can’t tell you what the fix will be.”

Tritium is a byproduct of creating nuclear power, according to the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI). It also reacts with oxygen to form water.

The average concentration of tritium found in ground water at nuclear plants is 20,000 picocuries per liter, according to the NEI. The same figure is the Environmental Protection Agency’s acceptable tritium level for drinking water.

The levels found at Nine Mile were 32,000 to 44,000 picocuries per liter of water, said Lyon.



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