Tuesday Jun 21, 201103:59 PM GMT
Tritium leaks from US nuclear sites
Tue Jun 21, 2011 4:0PM
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Braidwood Nuclear Generating Station in Will County in northeastern Illinois, US
Radioactive tritium has leaked from at least 48 of 65 sites of commercial nuclear power sites in the United States, investigations have shown.


According to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission records, tritium -- a radioactive form of hydrogen -- has leaked through corroded pipes into the ground and that the number and severity of the leaks are escalating, The Washington Post reported.

Leaks from at least 37 of those facilities contained tritium concentrations which sometimes exceeded the federal drinking water standard at hundreds of times.

At three sites -- two in Illinois and one in Minnesota -- leaks have contaminated drinking wells near homes, but have not reached levels violating the drinking water standard.

At a fourth site, in New Jersey, tritium has leaked into an aquifer and a discharge canal feeding picturesque Barnegat Bay off the Atlantic Ocean.

There have also been numerous reports of tritium leaks into the surface waters across the US over the past years.

Any exposure to radioactivity increases the risk of cancer.

So far, the tritium leaks have not shown any signs of health threat, federal and industry officials say.

But it is hard to know how far some leaks have traveled into groundwater.

Tritium moves through soil quickly and when detected, it often indicates the presence of more powerful radioactive isotopes that are often spilled at the same time.

MD/AKM/MGH
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