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Virginia Nuclear Plant Leaking Radioactive Tritium

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

We reported last August:

One of the largest East Coast earthquakes in recorded history struck today.

The epicenter was very close to the Lake Anna nuclear power plant:

In fact, many U.S. nuclear power plants are built near earthquake faults.

The Lake Anna reactor was ranked the 7th most at risk from earthquakes of any reactor by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Indeed, today’s quake was 5.9, and nuclear expert Bob Alvarez says that the Lake Anna plant was only built to withstand a 5.9 to 6.1 quake.

And earthquake sensors were previously removed around the reactor due to budget cuts.

As I’ve previously pointed out, Japan’s nuclear meltdown, the economic meltdown, and the Gulf oil meltdown all happened for the same reason: cutting safety measures to make an extra buck.

The Richmond Times Dispatch noted a few days later:

Last week’s central Virginia earthquake caused 25 spent-fuel storage casks — each weighing 115 tons — to move on their concrete pad at Dominion Virginia Power’s North Anna nuclear power plant.

(North Anna is another name for Lake Anna.)

The plant is now leaking radioactive tritium.

USA Today points out:

Dominion Virginia Power is seeking the source of leaking radioactivity at its North Anna nuclear power plant after an elevated level of tritium was detected in groundwater.

And the Times Dispatch reports:

Dominion Virginia Power has found elevated levels of a weak form of radioactivity in a sampling well at its North Anna nuclear power station.

The radiation poses no hazard to the public, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said.

On Friday, the Richmond-based utility was notified by its laboratory contractor that water taken from an on-site groundwater sampling point contained an unusually high level of tritium — more than twice the EPA’s standard for drinking water.


“There is no evidence that the increased concentration of tritium we sampled was related to the earthquake” on Aug. 23, which shut down the plant for nearly three months, the company told the NRC on Tuesday. “Monitoring of the sample points both inside and outside the protected area and a post-seismic hydrogeological evaluation show this to be the case.”

While it may be tempting to assume that the company is lying about the cause of the tritium leak – and nuclear accidents can cause tritium releases – remember that 75 percent of all American nuclear plants leak tritium.

In other words, the leak at the Virginia nuclear plant could be due to the earthquake … or it could just be standard operating procedure for the woefully unsafe nuclear industry.

This article was posted: Thursday, February 23, 2012 at 10:50 am

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