New Leak At Vermont Yankee Raises More Questions

06/09/10 5:50PM By Ross Sneyd
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AP File Photo/Toby Talbot

(Host) Vermont Yankee officials say a leak was detected inside the plant's containment building this week, and was quickly repaired.

But environmentalists say the incident raises new questions about why the plant continues to have problems.

VPR's Ross Sneyd reports.

(Sneyd) Sensors inside the Vernon plant detected more water flowing through drains than should have been there.

That led technicians to a one-inch relief valve in a ‘heat exchanger' inside the containment building, the structure that surrounds the reactor.

It was leaking more than a gallon of radioactive water per minute.

Yankee spokesman Larry Smith says the valve was quickly isolated so water no longer ran through it.

(Smith) "That relief valve was not in primary containment of the reactor. It was in secondary containment. That's the reactor building that houses the residual heat removal systems. There are two of them."

(Sneyd) Smith says the water was captured and redirected back into the reactor system. None of the water was released into the environment and Yankee says there was no threat to public safety.

But environmental advocates say that explanation isn't good enough, not since disclosure of radioactive tritium leaks into groundwater earlier this year.

(Levine) "There seems to be a leak a day at Vermont Yankee."

Sandra Levine is with the Conservation Law Foundation.

(Levine) "The continuing leaks at the facility need to stop. This new leak highlights the lack of responsible oversight and management at the plant."

(Sneyd) Levine lays the blame at the feet of Yankee management - and regulators. She argues that both need to be more proactive about inspecting all of the systems at the plant.

Yankee says it's doing a good job and that's why the leak was detected and fixed within five hours of its discovery.

For VPR News, I'm Ross Sneyd.



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