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Wednesday
Feb112015

Carcinogenic Sr-90 detected in VY monitoring wells

This map shows the location of Vermont Yankee groundwater sampling wells.As reported by Olga Peters at The Commons Online, the Vermont Department of Health (VDH) has reported that carcinogenic Strontium-90 has been detected in groundwater sampling and monitoring wells near and around Entergy Nuclear's Vermont Yankee atomic reactor for the first time. Some of the samples contained levels of Sr-90 nearly halfway to U.S. EPA Safe Drinking Water Act limits.

Unfortunately, VDH has resorted to such phrases as "no immediate danger," however. This phrase, or very similar ones, has often been used by nuclear industry and even government officials, to downplay radioactive risks, even during and in the immediate aftermath of the Three Mile Island meltdown, and even the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe. In response, Dr. Rosalie Bertell entitled her iconic, revelatory book No Immediate Danger?

As shown in this chart of radionuclides and the human organs they concentrate in, Sr-90 is a human bone-seeker, where it "has been linked to bone cancer, cancer of soft tissue near the bone, and leukemia," as the article reports.

Sr-90 has a half-life of around 30 years, and thus a hazardous persistence of 300 to 600 years.

Remarkably, the article reports, Sr-90 was detected in monitoring well water some five miles north of Vermont Yankee.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), unsurprisingly for a rogue agency captured by and colluding with the industry it is supposed to regulate, downplayed this alarming development: 

'...The NRC suspects the test from these wells are false positives, said [NRC spokesman] Sheehan.

“There’s just no physical way Strontium-90 can migrate five miles north — upstream,” said Sheehan.

Same for the well south of the plant, he said: There is no evident physical pathway for the isotope to travel...'.

However, David Lochbaum, Director of UCS's Nuclear Safety Project, explained:

'...In regard to the two respective wells where the isotope was detected north and south of the plant, Lochbaum said those results might not be false positives. The Sr-90 might have come from fallout from above-ground testing of nuclear weapons in the 1960s, he said, or it could have also been released from VY into the atmosphere through the plant’s tall stack...'.