Highly radioactive water found at Vermont nuke plant

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A day after contaminated water was found in a test well at the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant, company officials announced finding wastewater containing high levels of radioactivity, news outlets are reporting.

The water, reportedly about 100 gallons, was contaminated with radioactive tritium at a concentration of about 2 million picocuries per liter, a spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission told the Brattleboro Reformer. That’s about 100 times the allowable federal level for drinking water and 70 times the standard for groundwater.

The Reformer describes the contamination as “free- standing water in a room in the radioactive waste building,” while the the Argus Times quotes the head of the state senate as saying that the water was “discovered in a trench” at the plant and that plant officials “said the trench filled back up with suspected radioactive water after it was pumped out and processed.”

No public comment yet from the owner, Entergy Nuclear.

The 38-year-old plant has suffered other malfunctions, and some New Englanders want it shut. 

The news comes a day after company announced that tritium has contaminated a second groundwater monitoring well and that ” tritium levels in the first contaminated well had risen again and were now above federal safe drinking water standards,” the Rutland Herald reports.

The first well is about 30 feet from the Connecticut River and registers 22,300 picocuries per liter, while the second well is roughly 100 feet from the river and registers 9,600 picocuries. The tritium level “has risen steadily in the past 10 days, since Entergy first announced the contamination,” the paper writes, noting that the wells are ” relatively shallow, about 30 feet deep, the better to track groundwater.”

The radiological health chief for the state Department of Health said it “was obvious that the tritium-tainted water was draining into the Connecticut River, but he said the river, with its huge volume of water, was diluting the radioactive contamination to an immeasurable level,” the Herald writes.

(Posted by Michael Winter)

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