Nuclear Plant Hatch radioactive leaks

The NRC publishes annual Radioactive Effluent and Environmental Reports for every operating nuclear power reactor. The reports for Plant Hatch 1 & 2 say radioactive tritium has repeatedly leaked into the soil and groundwater, but the internal swamp is getting less radioactive. Reports like this are not needed for wind or solar plants.

Plant Hatch Unconfined Perched Aquifer Tritium Concentration November 2011
Annual Radiological Environmental Operating Reports for 2011

According to a 2007 Industry Groundwater Protection Initiative Voluntary Data Collection Questionnaire,

Various radioactive water leaks over the years, released varying amounts of tritiated water onto and into the soil. Some of this water tritium was at concentrations exceeding EPA's drinking water standard. Over the years, a few onsite test/piezometer wells located near the leaks indicated tritium greater than EPA's drinking water standard. Some of this water gradually migrated through the surrounding soil into a subsurface "French drain" system which comes to the surface through an "outfall" which then discharged to a gulley and into the river. Over the years, a few of the subsurface outfall samples indicated tritium exceeding the EPA drinking water standard although no measurable tritium was detected in the river.

In addition, a yard drain system emptying into another outfall has had tritium in it occasionally when it has flow. A couple of samples from it over the years have shown tritium levels exceeding the EPA's drinking water standard, but no measurable tritium was detected in the river.

Gamma spectroscopy analyses and Sr-89/90 analyses have not shown any indication of any other nuclides being present in the outfall or well samples.

Not to worry; a letter says their onsite swamp got less radioactive, although:

Due to the migration of radioactive material through the swamp and the inconsistent dispersion of contamination, the activity levels deep in the swamp (locations PL-2, PL-3 and MBC) are somewhat variable especially for the longer lived isotopes such as Cs-137 (radiological half-life of 30.2 years).

They promise an update on the swamp in April 2018.

There's an Annual Radioactive Effluent Release Reports for 2011 Plants Hatch, Farley, and Vogtle: 78 pages of dry, disconnected tidbits of minimum detectable radiation and absolute measures detected at various sites, with very little indication of significance such as likely damage to animals, plants, or people.

The 235 page Annual Radiological Environmental Operating Reports for 2011 found no radiation in milk animals, although some in beef cattle and gardens. They used to find radioactive tritium in the Altamaha River, but in 2011 levels detected downstream were statistically indiscernible from those detected upstream. Fish showed quite a bit of Cesium-137 and Cs-134 back in 1983, but the amount has steadily declined since then. That's for Hatch.

The report also covers Farley and Vogtle. Farley seems to have radioactive tritium in well water. Near Vogtle, there's direct radiation and airborne radiation on the river bank and on nearby roads. The Vogtle controls for milk were less than 10 miles from the plant. Curiously, direct radiation increased at all three plants in 2010 and 2011. Oh, and there is detectible radioactivity in the Savannah River, noticeably higher than at the control locations.


1 thought on “Nuclear Plant Hatch radioactive leaks

  1. William Saenz

    In case you haven’t seen this yet:
    Most studies indicate that tritium in living
    creatures can produce typical radiogenic
    effects including cancer, genetic effects, developmental
    abnormalities and reproductive
    effects. (Straume) Tritium can cause mutations,
    tumors and cell death. (Rytomaa)
    Tritiated water is associated with significantly
    decreased weight of brain and genital
    tract organs in mice (Torok) and can cause
    irreversible loss of female germ cells in both
    mice and monkeys even at low concentrations.
    (Dobson, 1979)
    Studies indicate that lower doses of
    tritium can cause more cell death (Dobson,
    1976), mutations (Ito) and chromosome
    damage (Hori) per dose than higher tritium
    doses. Tritium can impart damage which is
    two or more times greater per dose than either
    x-rays or gamma rays. (Straume) (Dobson,
    There is no evidence of a threshold
    for damage from 3H exposure; even the
    smallest amount of tritium can have negative
    health impacts. (Dobson, 1974) Organically
    bound tritium (tritium bound in animal or
    plant tissue) can stay in the body for 10
    years or more. While tritiated water may be
    cleared from the human body in about 10
    days (Garland), if a person lives in an area
    where tritium contamination continues, he or
    she can experience chronic exposure to tritium.
    (Laskey) Tritium from tritiated water
    can become incorporated into DNA, the molecular
    basis of heredity for living organisms.
    DNA is especially sensitive to radiation.
    (Hori) A cell’s exposure to tritium
    bound in DNA can be even more toxic than
    its exposure to tritium in water.
    Cindy Folkers, NIRS, April 2006

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