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.



Radioactive groundwater found at North Anna

Dominion Virginia Power has notified federal authorities about the discovery of low levels of radioactive groundwater at the utility's North Anna nuclear power station in Louisa County. A recent groundwater monitoring sample point at the plant recorded a level of 16,500 picoCuries of tritium per liter, according to a report that Dominion filed Friday with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Normal tritrium levels at the particular sample point are 4,000 picoCuries per liter or less. Times-Dispatch.

Beyond Nuclear's take: Levels of 4000 picocuries per liter in water are nowhere near normal since tritium is created and occurs naturally in surface waters at 10 to 30 picoCuries per liter. And although the Environmental Protection Agency standard for tritium concentration is 20,000 picocuries, this level is not safe since tritium crosses the placental barrier in pregnant women. This exposes the fetus, whose enhanced sensitivity to radiation damage is well-known. Studies show tritium exposure is associated with a host of health problems including cancer.


Oyster Creek's solution to tritium leak: Water it down

Oyster Creek will soon begin pumping 25 to 50 gallons per minute from the Cape May and Cohansey aquifers to remove water contaminated with the radioactive material tritium. The spill at Oyster Creek - the nation's oldest, continuously operating nuclear plant - measured as high as 6 million picocuries in some monitoring wells, about 300 times the level the federal Environmental Protection Agency considers unsafe for drinking water. Tritium occurs naturally at 10 picocuries per liter. Tritium leaks have been identified in 33 of the nation's 104 nuclear power plants and escaped into the groundwater at 27 of them, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the federal agency in charge of power plants. Beyond Nuclear quoted. Press of Atlantic City.


Tritium detected in deep drinking water aquifer at Vermont Yankee

The Brattleboro Reformer reports that radioactive tritium contamination has been detected at a depth of 200 to 220 feet below ground in an aquifer that was used up until Feb. 2010 for drinking water. The well was no longer used for drinking water once Vermont Yankee's tritium leaks to groundwater were discovered. While both Entergy Nuclear and NRC spokespeople denied this latest finding has any implications for human health or safety, Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds Associates warns that Vermont Yankee must continue to extract tritium contaminated groundwater, lest tritium or even other radioactive isotopes such as Cesium-137 and Strontium-90 leak downward into the deep aquifers, threatening neighboring drinking water supplies.


Government nuclear authority admits tritium health risks could be underestimated

The risks of tritium, a radioactive form of hydrogen, could be underestimated because it could bind to DNA, recognizes the French Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) in a recent white paper. In light of this possibility, the ASN wants new investigation into hereditary effects from tritium exposure, better monitoring and more restriction of tritium releases from nuclear facilities. Reported in Le Monde.


In addition to tritium, Sr-90 now confirmed leaking into soil at Vermont Yankee

Entergy Nuclear has now admitted that the bone-seeking radioisotope Strontium-90 has been discovered in soil near underground leaking pipes at its Vermont Yankee atomic reactor on the bank of the Connecticut River. Several years ago, Sr-90 was also detected leaking from the high-level radioactive waste storage pool at Entergy Nuclear's Indian Point atomic reactors on the bank of the Hudson River in New York State. Nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds Associates warns that Sr-90, which is highly soluble in water, can concentrate in bones and cause leukemia, and thus is the most hazardous radioisotope yet discovered leaking into the environment at the 38 year old reactor just across the Connecticut River from New Hampshire, and just several miles upstream from Massachusetts. Other leaking elements discovered into the site's groundwater and soil include tritium, cobalt-60, cesium-137, manganese-54 and zinc-65. Raymond Shadis of the New England Coalition on Nuclear Pollution is very skeptical that Entergy Nuclear's assurances that all Sr-90 contamination at Vermont Yankee has now been accounted for and cleaned up.