Radioactive Leak at AL Nuke

Wednesday, January 14, 2015 @ 02:01 PM gHale

A leak of radioactive water from a tank at the Browns Ferry Nuclear Power Plant released tritium into the environment last week, but the leak ended up contained and presented no public risk, officials said.

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), which operates the plant near Athens, AL, said a drain line leaked between 100 and 200 gallons of water containing tritium levels above acceptable EPA drinking water standards. Workers fixed the leak within three hours after discovery and it largely remained contained within the plant area, TVA officials said.

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In an incident report to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), TVA said it increased monitoring of water around the plant but has not detected any elevated tritium levels outside the facility.

“In the unlikely event any of the tritiated water enters either the intake or outflow channels, it would be significantly diluted in the 2 million gallon-per-minute flowrate (of the Tennessee River)” TVA spokesman Jim Hopson said. “Based on all of these factors, there is no danger to the public or plant workers.”

Tritium is a radioactive form of hydrogen that occurs in nature and also as a byproduct of nuclear fission. It commonly sees use in commercial operations for its luminescent abilities, including building “exit” signs and watch faces.

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