A new report released today by Beyond Nuclear - Leak First, Fix Later: Uncontrolled and Unmonitored Radioactive Releases from Nuclear Power Plants - looks at the epidemic of reactors leaking tritium into groundwater. The report finds that the federal regulator – the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission - is ignoring its oversight and enforcement responsibilities at the nation’s increasingly leaky, uninspected and unmaintained nuclear power plants. The report shows that despite agency efforts initiated in 1979 to prevent uncontrolled radioactive releases to groundwater, the NRC is capitulating to an industry decision to take almost three more years before announcing an action plan.
Instead of mandating compliance with established license requirements for the control and monitoring of buried pipe systems carrying radioactive effluent, the NRC cedes responsibility to industry voluntary initiatives that will add years onto the resolution of a decades-old environmental and public health issue.
Of further concern, the agency and the industry continue to downplay and trivialize the health risks of prolonged exposure to tritium, a known carcinogen which is shown to cause cancer, genetic mutations and birth defects.
The highly-publicized leaks of radioactive hydrogen – or tritium – from buried pipes at the Braidwood, Oyster Creek and Vermont Yankee nuclear power plants have drawn attention to a more widespread and longstanding problem analyzed by the report. Leaking U.S. reactors are now ubiquitous. There is evidence of 15 radioactive leaks from March 2009 through April 16, 2010 from buried pipe systems at 13 different reactor sites. At least 102 reactor units are now documented to have had recurring radioactive leaks into groundwater from 1963 through February 2009.
The full report, the executive summary and the press release can all be downloaded. We encourage you to reproduce and distribute all three and to forward these documents to others in your community and to send the press release to your media contacts.