Tritium Levels Are Highest Yet Found At Vermont Yankee

02/05/10 5:51PM By John Dillon

AP File Photo/Toby Talbot
(Host) Vermont Yankee says it has found very high levels of tritium near pipes that drain several systems that hold radioactive water at the plant.

The readings were the highest yet found in water that's leaking from the reactor complex.

Doctor Bill Irwin is the state's radiological health chief. He says the levels were found at two-point-seven picocuries (peek-oh-curies) per liter.

(Irwin) The significance of the 2.7 million picocuries per liter is that this is water concentration that is near the concentration of reactor process water, so it means what's in the sump is about as contaminated with tritium as it can get.

(Host) Irwin said technicians at the plant will now focus their search to an area that includes a radioactive waste processing facility and a tank that holds radioactive water.

(Irwin) They all need to be evaluated for leakage. This one in particular needs to be evaluated soon because it has a source of water that's high in concentration of radioactive tritium and it has the potential, being an underground pipe, to leak to the environment.

(Host) Irwin says workers are not in danger from being around the high levels, since they will be wearing protective gear. Tritium is only a health risk if it is ingested or absorbed through the skin.

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