Radiation Leak at Catawba Nuclear Station

On May 15, 2013, Duke Energy reported a leak of of radioactive Tritium at the Catawba Nuclear Station on Lake Wylie. The available information raises more questions than answers.

Radiation Leak at Catawba Nuclear Station

Catawba Nuclear Station - Photo by Jeff Cravotta. Flight by SouthWings.

 It is important to note that Duke Energy is reporting that more than 100 gallons of water contaminated with readioactive tritium was released.  More than 100 gallons could be 101 gallons or one million gallons. At this point there are more questions than answers.

Some questions include:

  •  How much was released? Over what period of time?  What was the concentration of tritium in the water?  What were the radiation levels?
  • Previously the groundwater at the site had tritium contamination.  What is the extent of tritium and tritiated water from this and other releases?
  • Why was tritium contaminated water in the turbine building?  Isn't the water in the turbine steam supposed to be free of radioactive materials?
  •  Is the groundwater being remediated for tritium contamination or simply monitored?  What is the extent of contamination
  • Is duke checking offsite wells?
  • Are Rock Hill and Ft. Mill, which have water intakes near the Catawba Nuclear Station, checking water from nearby intakes for tritium or tritiated water?  (Rock Hill checked in past and found levels below regulatory standard but it is unclear if they have tested recently.)

______________________________________________________

News reports:

Excerpt from WCCB News

Full report at http://www.wccbcharlotte.com/news/top-stories/Safety-Concerns-After-Radioactive-Leak-207650651.html

York, SC--Water flowed out of the Catawba Nuclear Station in York Wednesday afternoon as Duke Energy Officials worked to fix a pump that leaked more than one hundred gallons of contaminated water inside the station. "That water is a concern if it is ingested and if it's inhaled as water vapor,"
said Catawba Riverkeeper Executive Director Richard Gaskins.

The water showed a trace amount of tritium that can sometimes increase cancer risks. Duke Energy says it poses no health risks. But, regulators and environmentalists are concerned the radioactive water could reach groundwater sources. "I think the major thing this radiation leak is showing is just how outdated and dangerous Duke Energy's nuclear fleet is," said Greenpeace North Carolina Field Organizer Monica Embrey.

The Union of Concerned Scientists says there have been seven other leaks at the Catawba
Nuclear Station since 2007. That's when a trade group adopted guidelines for nuclear plants to voluntarily report leaks and spills larger than one hundred gallons. Gaskins says that's the sign of an ongoing problem, "I think the bigger concern is the combined impact of all the releases. Not the impact of one isolated release."

Now, Gaskins and other environmentalists worry the problem may be more than 100 gallons with traces of radioactivity. "In some cases, some of the biggest environmental disasters, that number has continued to go up. Here we just don't know," Gaskins.

Duke Energy says it regularly samples 46 groundwater monitoring wells around its
nuclear plant.

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Excerpts from report by WBTV - more information at http://www.wbtv.com/story/22258599/radioactive-leak-reported-at-catawba-nuclear-station

Posted: May 15, 2013 11:26 AM EDTUpdated: May 15, 2013 11:55 AM EDT


LAKE WYLIE, SC (WBTV) -

Federal regulators say more than 100 gallons of water, with traces of a radioactive hydrogen isotope, have leaked at the Catawba Nuclear Station.

According to a report from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the leak was discovered around 11:23 p.m. on Tuesday night. Officials at the Lake Wylie-based nuclear station reported the leak to federal officials around 2:52 a.m. Wednesday morning.

The report states that a "leak greater than 100 gallons containing tritium has the potential to reach groundwater. The source has been identified. Actions to isolate this source are being initiated." 

Tritium is a radioactive form hydrogen by bonding together three hydrogen atoms. WBTV has learned the atoms take just over 12 years to break down.

 * * *

Duke Energy, which runs the plant, is "in the process of installing a temporary sump pump in the turbine building sump in order to isolate the discharge path," according to the report.

The report classifies the tritium leak as a "non-emergency."

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says drinking water that contains tritium can increase the risk of developing cancer.

Copyright 2013 WBTV. All rights reserved.


More information at http://www.wbtv.com/story/22258599/radioactive-leak-reported-at-catawba-nuclear-station.

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