Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Leaky Nuclear Plants Versus States Rights

From the Epoch Times:
Tritium is a radioactive isotope of hydrogen, created in the cooling water used in a reactor’s core. It is impossible to chemically separate tritium from contaminated water. Remarkably, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has acknowledged similar tritium leaks at 27 U.S. nuclear plants, potentially threatening the nation’s drinking water. There may be more tritium leaks that have yet to be reported. Vermont Yankee had a previous leak in 2005, made public only last month. In Illinois, the Braidwood Nuclear Plant leaked millions of gallons of tritium-laced water, starting in 1996, but plant management didn’t reveal the problem to state officials until 2005. While NRC documents confirm a 2009 leak at New York’s Indian Point 2 reactor on the Hudson River of at least a hundred thousand gallons over four days, an energy consultant with 45 years in the nuclear industry believes the evidence shows the plant leaked millions of gallons. The consultant, Paul Blanch, says that a contributing factor to leaky nuclear plants is a troubling lack of NRC inspection requirements. Entergy doesn’t inspect or maintain its underground pipes at Vermont Yankee, says Blanch. “Their maintenance philosophy is ‘run to failure.’ It’s like I’m driving along with my car, and the only time I take a look at my tires is after they blow out.” Vermont Radiological Health Chief Bill Irwin blasted Vermont Yankee’s NRC-approved design, saying it was “inappropriate” for pipes carrying radioactivity to be buried 15 feet below ground, where inspection is impossible. But that’s standard design for the nation’s nuclear fleet.
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