Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Radioactive water leak near Cleveland

A nuclear power plant outside of Cleveland has a radioactive leak.
An energy company says radioactive material detected in water from a steam pipe leak at a nuclear power plant in Ohio doesn't pose a threat.
Crews at the Perry nuclear plant alongside Lake Erie northeast of Cleveland detected the leak Monday afternoon and reported it the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the state.
The plant notification to the NRC says tritium was detected in a groundwater monitoring station near the auxiliary building where the leak occurred. There's no evidence tritium made it off plant grounds.
Plant operator FirstEnergy says the leak is being repaired and there is no threat to the public.
Right. It is just tritium in the groundwater.
 The radioactive water has been found in groundwater at concentrations more than twice the federal drinking water limit outside of a building where the leak was discovered Monday. No other, more dangerous radioactive isotopes were found.
Plant owner FirstEnergy said the tritium has not made its way into the plant’s larger under-drain system designed to collect groundwater from under the entire site. Nor has the isotope been found in other groundwater test sites on the property or into nearby Lake Erie.
“It was found in one sample area next to the building. I know of at least five other areas that have been sampled and there have been no indications of tritium beyond that one,” said Jennifer Young, FirstEnergy nuclear spokeswoman.
“We are doing additional sampling today. Any groundwater flows into the plant’s under-drain system,” she said. “It has not left the plant boundaries.”
Perry engineers reported the problem to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the NRC's on-site inspectors, as well as to county and state emergency agencies about 1:40 a.m. Tuesday.
 “Actions are in progress to stop the leak," the Nuclear Regulatory Commission report said. Engineers were still working late Tuesday afternoon to seal it.
Workers discovered the leak Monday in a valve on a water line that carries reactor water back to the reactor after it has run through the plant’s steam turbine and then been condensed back into water.
The leaky valve was in a pipe contained in a hallway-sized steam tunnel running from the turbine and generator building through a second, auxiliary equipment building and then back into the reactor containment building, said Young.
She could not say when the leak began. She described it as a small spray of water and steam, which cameras monitoring the tunnel picked up.
David Lochbaum, nuclear safety engineer with the Union of Concerned Scientists, which is not opposed to nuclear energy, praised the company for reporting the leak even though it appears to be minor.

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