Radioactive Water Released into River

Monday, May 9, 2011 @ 08:05 PM gHale

An unknown amount of radioactive water released into the Mississippi River late last week at the Grand Gulf Nuclear Station in Port Gibson, MS.

Right now the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) feels there is no public health hazard. It is still investigating the incident.

Entergy Nuclear, which operates Grand Gulf, filed a report with the NRC explaining work crews located standing water at the plant last week after the area experienced heavy rains.

Water was found Thursday at the Unit 2 turbine building — which is an abandoned, partially constructed building — and began pumping the water into the river.

An alarm apparently alerted workers to the presence of tritium, a byproduct of the nuclear reactor processes. They turned the pumps off stopping the flow. Investigators are not sure why tritium was in the storm water or how it got there.

“Although the concentrations of tritium exceeded EPA drinking water limits, the release should not represent a hazard to public health because of its dilution in the river,” said Lara Uselding, public affairs officer with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Region IV.

Tritium has several uses, including being a component in triggering mechanisms on thermonuclear weapons systems. The substance often works in conjunction with phosphor material to create permanent illumination for items such as wristwatch dials and night-sights for firearms.

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