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Tritium

Tritium is radioactive hydrogen and is widely used in the manufacture of nuclear weapons. It is also found int the discharge water of nuclear reactors.

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Wednesday
Aug212013

Joseph Mangano/RPHP report on radioactivity releases from Palisades and increased death rates in the surrounding area

Entergy's problem-plagued Palisades atomic reactor in Covert, MI, on the Lake Michigan shorelineJoseph Mangano, Executive Director of Radiation and Public Health Project, has published a report, commissioned and endorsed by Beyond Nuclear, Don't Waste Michigan, Michigan Safe Energy Future, and Nuclear Energy Information Service. Based on government data and documentation on radioactivity releases from Palisades, as well as area health statistics, the report's major findings raise serious questions about the connections between radioactivity releases and increased overall death and cancer mortality rates.

Palisades received a U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) rubber-stamp for 20 extended years of operations -- out to 2031 -- back in 2007, despite hard-fought resistance that sought to block it.

Press release

Full report: NUCLEAR CONTAMINATION AND HEALTH RISKS FROM THE ENTERGY PALISADES NUCLEAR REACTOR.

As stated in the press release:

"...Mangano’s main findings include that the Van Buren County death rate from all causes was 3 to 6 percent below the state in the 1970s and early 1980s, but has risen since, to a level 12.5% greater than Michigan (2003-2010).  This change suggests that 1,330 “excess” deaths have occurred in the county since the Palisades atomic reactor started operating in 1971.  Elevated levels were observed for all age groups (especially children/young adults), both genders, and all major causes of death..." (emphasis added).

As Mangano's report documents, "[i]n the late 1990s, the latest data available, tritium levels in Lake Michigan at South Haven (near Palisades) exceeded those of most U.S. reactors."

Beyond Nuclear pamphlet "Routine Radiation Releases from U.S. Atomic Reators: What Are The Dangers?" Note that the water discharge pathway photo was taken (by Gabriela Bulisova) at the Palisades atomic reactor, discharging into Lake Michigan. Although the atmospheric discharge pathway was photographed at the Callaway atomic reactor in Missouri, Palisades has a very similar vent attached to its containment building for aerial discharges of radioactive gases and vapors).

Beyond Nuclear report (published April 2010) by Reactor Oversight Project Director Paul Gunter, "Leak First, Fix Later," with a chapter on Palisades' tritium leaks into groundwater, first reported by Entergy Nuclear in 2007.

Sunday
Jul142013

Help hold NRC's feet to the fire -- please attend Palisades Webinar, Tues., July 16, 5:30 PM Eastern

MI Radio photo showing the location of the SIRWT, located on the roof directly above the control room; the reactor containment building towers to the leftAs announced by a U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) meeting notice, the agency will hold yet another Webinar about Entergy's problem-plagued Palisades atomic reactor on the Lake Michigan shore in Covert, Michigan. This one will focus on the May 5th spill of 82.1 gallons of radioactive water (including tritium) from the leaking Safety Injection Refueling Water Tank (SIRWT) into Lake Michigan. The Great Lakes represent 20% of the surface fresh water on the entire planet, and serve as the drinking water supply for 40 million people in 8 U.S. states, 2 Canadian provinces, and a large number of Native American First Nations.

The Webinar will be held on Tuesday, July 16th (the 68th annual commemoration of the world's first atomic weapon blast, "Trinity," at Alamagordo, NM on July 16, 1945).

To register to attend the Webinar, do so by filling out the required information (your name and email address) by July 15th at the following websitehttps://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/431957345

A broad coalition opposed Palisades' 20-year license extension from 2005-2007, but NRC rubber-stamped it anyways. Palisades now has NRC's permission to operate till 2031, despite its worsening breakdown phase risks.

More.

Tuesday
May072013

Entergy's Palisades leaks 79 gallons of radioactive water into Lake Michigan, forced to shut down

Entergy's Palisades atomic reactor on the Lake Michigan shore in southwest MIAs reported by the Holland Sentinel, Entergy's Palisades atomic reactor has yet again sprung a leak, this time spilling 79 gallons of supposedly "very slightly radioactive water" into Lake Michigan, the headwaters of 20% of the world's surface fresh water, and drinking water for 40 million people downstream. 

Such unintentional leaks -- which have included tritium leaks into groundwater -- increase the radiological burden already borne by the public and environment in the downwind and downstream area, due to "permitted," intentional, "routine radiation releases" from Palisades (note that the photo of the water discharge pathway in Beyond Nuclear's pamphlet was taken at Palisades itself!).

Entergy and NRC spokespersons' repeated claims of no safety significance to the public flies in the face of decades of findings, as by the National Academy of Science (most recently in 2005), that any exposure to radioactivity, no matter how small, carries a health risk of cancer, and that these health risks accumulate over a lifetime.

U.S. Representative Ed Markey (D-MA) made public the serious nature of this particular leaking tank in June 2012. His information came from very courageous Palisades whistleblowers, and their attorney, Billie Pirner Garde. The leak, from the 300,000 gallon Safety Injection Refueling Water (SIRW) storage tank located directly above the control, began in mid-2011, and was flowing through the ceiling, and being captured in buckets in the safety critical control room, full of electrical circuitry and equipment that cannot get wet. The leak was concealed not only from the public and media, but even from the NRC's own Chairman, Greg Jaczko, as he toured Palisades on May 25, 2012. NRC later granted Entergy an exemption in 2012 to allow continued operations despite the degraded condition of the SIRW storage tank. 

In recent weeks, Beyond Nuclear learned from NRC officials that the now two-year-old leak has continued at a 0.5 to 1 gallon per day rate. But Saturday's leakage rate, which forced the reactor to shut down, was at 90 gallons per day, as documented in NRC's event notification report. Palisades' SIRW storage tank, just like the rest of the plant, is 46 years old, and obviously showing severe signs of "breakdown phase" age-degration, of increasing risk. 

The Detroit Free PressEnformable Nuclear NewsKalamazoo GazetteMichigan RadioWSJM RadioWKZO Radio,WWMT TV-3 KalamazooDetroit News,  and WOOD TV-8 Grand Rapids have reported on this story.

Beyond Nuclear issued a media statement, challenging flippant Entergy and NRC claims that this leak carries "absolutely" no risk to human health and safety. NRC's Region 3 spokeswoman has been exposed making false claims regarding radioactivity leaks more than once at Midwestern reactors in just the past year, prompting the demand for an investigation by a member of Congress. Last year, U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) demanded an NRC investigation into Mytling's downplaying of a reactor leak at the troubled Davis-Besse atomic reactor near Toledo. In addition, Chicago watchdog group Nuclear Energy Information Service, via a Freedom of Information Act Request to the State of Illinois Dept. of Nuclear Safety, documented that Mytling's flip assurance -- that a radioactive steam leak at the Byron atomic reactor, in Jan. 2012, must have contained exceedingly low levels of hazardous radioactive tritium, as radiation monitors had not detected any -- was baseless and misleading, as no real-time tritium monitoring capability existed at the plant. Similar questions must now be asked of Mytling's questionable assurances that radioactivity levels in the water leaked into Lake Michigan were below detectable levels. Are there radiation monitors in place to verify such flip assurances?

Monday
Apr292013

Tritium contamination of growing stockpile of radioactive water leads to outcry against release to Pacific at Fukushima Daiichi

Gray and silver storage tanks filled with radioactive wastewater are sprawling over the grounds of the Fukushima Daiichi plant. Kyodo News, via Associated Press.In an article entitled "Flow of Tainted Water Is Latest Crisis at Japan Nuclear Plant," the New York Times has reported that continuing leaks of groundwater into the rubblized Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is causing a flood of radioactively contaminated water requiring a sprawling -- and ever growing -- complex of water storage tanks.

As the New York Times reports:

'...But the biggest problem, critics say, was that Tepco and other members of the oversight committee appeared to assume all along that they would eventually be able to dump the contaminated water into the ocean once a powerful new filtering system was put in place that could remove 62 types of radioactive particles, including strontium.

The dumping plans have now been thwarted by what some experts say was a predictable problem: a public outcry over tritium, a relatively weak radioactive isotope that cannot be removed from the water.

Tritium, which can be harmful only if ingested, is regularly released into the environment by normally functioning nuclear plants, but even Tepco acknowledges that the water at Fukushima contains about 100 times the amount of tritium released in an average year by a healthy plant...

...The public outcry over the plans to dump tritium-tainted water into the sea — driven in part by the company’s failure to inform the public in 2011 when it dumped radioactive water into the Pacific — was so loud that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe personally intervened last month to say that there would be “no unsafe release.”

Meanwhile, the amount of water stored at the plant just keeps growing.

“How could Tepco not realize that it had to get public approval before dumping this into the sea?” said Muneo Morokuzu, an expert on public policy at the University of Tokyo who has called for creating a specialized new company just to run the cleanup. “This all just goes to show that Tepco is in way over its head.”...'

It should be pointed out that tritium is not a "relatively weak radioactive isotope," but rather a relatively powerful one, once incorporated into the human body. Tritium is a clinically proven cause of cancer, birth defects, and genetic damage.

It must also be corrected that ingestion is not the only pathway for tritium incorporation -- inhalation, and even absorption through the skin, are hazardous exposure pathways.

Tuesday
Feb072012

Two separate tritium and toxic chemical leaks admitted by Xcel Energy in past five days

NRC file photo of Prairie Island nuclear power plantXcel Energy's Prairie Island nuclear power plant has made what appears to be two admissions of separate toxic chemical and radiological spills in less than a week.

Last Thursday, an "event notification report" posted at the website of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) reported a tritium spill which occurred sometime between November 22nd and 29th, 2011, of up to 3,900 gallons, with a concentration of 9,430 picoCuries per Liter (pCi/L). This tritium concentration is nearly half the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Safe Drinking Water Act limit of 20,000 pCi/L. Such a limit should not be regarded as "safe," but rather as "acceptably risky" according to the agency, which has done a cost (to the public's health)-benefit (to Xcel Energy's bottom line) analysis to arrive at its limit. The linear no threshold theory, affirmed by the U.S. National Academies of Science for decades, holds that any exposure to radioactivity, no matter how small, still carries a health risk of cancer, and those risks accumulate over a lifetime. That event notification report did not explain why Xcel Energy had waited well over two months to publicly announce this incident.

Now, in a second, "Current Event Notification Report" from the Prairie Island nuclear power plant to NRC dated Feb. 7, 2012, Xcel Energy admits:

"OFFSITE NOTIFICATION DUE TO UNPERMITTED RELEASE 

'The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) was notified of a release of 27 gallons from the condensate system. The release contained the following chemicals: 

1) 11.2 ppm of methoxy propylamine (MPA); 
2) 8.1ppm of ammonia; 
3) 11.2 ppb of hydrazine; 
4) 1.50 E-5 microCi/mL (15,000 pCi/L) of tritium. 

"The condensate was released from parts Warehouse #1 heating steam system overflow vent. Condensate return pumps failed to operate causing 27 gallons of condensate to backup and overflow onto the ground. A catch basin has been installed and the steam inlet valve has been closed preventing the addition of steam into the system. 

The NRC Resident Inspector has been informed. 

The licensee also notified the Prairie Island Dakota Indian Community.' "

These appear to be two separate incidents.

The Prairie Island Dakota Indian Community, or Mdewakanton, "those who were born of the waters," in their own language, live on an island -- and floodplain -- in the Mississippi River in Minnesota not far from the Twin Cities. Against their will and without their consent, Northern States Power (now Xcel) constructed twin pressurized water reactors on the island in 1974, and have operated them ever since. Dry cask storage for high-level radioactive waste has been installed just hundreds of yards from the nearest tribal residents, and tribal day care center. Last summer, NRC rubberstamped 20 year license extensions, allowing the two reactors to operate for 60 years, till 2034.

Tritium, a clinically proven cause of cancer, birth defects, and genetic mutations, has previously leaked at Prairie Island in past years and decades. Hydrazine is itself an extremely hazardous toxic chemical, used in nuclear power plants as an anti-corrosive solvent.

Something is suspicious about Xcel waiting over 2 months, till last Thursday, to report a tritium spill from November 2011, only to now report a second, very similar-sounding spill of tritium, hydrazine, and other toxic chemicals, which apparently occurred on Friday. A serious question is -- do residents of the Prairie Island Indian Community immediately next door drink well water? If yes, is it contaminated with radioactivity or toxic chemicals from these (or other) leaks from the nuclear power plant? At what concentrations?