From the article:
Radioactive tritium has leaked from three-quarters of U.S. commercial nuclear power sites, often into groundwater from corroded, buried piping, an Associated Press investigation shows.
The number and severity of the leaks has been escalating, even as federal regulators extend the licenses of more and more reactors across the nation.
Tritium, which is a radioactive form of hydrogen, has leaked from at least 48 of 65 sites, according to U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission records reviewed as part of the AP’s yearlong examination of safety issues at aging nuclear power plants. Leaks from at least 37 of those facilities contained concentrations exceeding the federal drinking water standard – sometimes at hundreds of times the limit.
While most leaks have been found within plant boundaries, some have migrated offsite. But none is known to have reached public water supplies.
At three sites – two in Illinois and one in Minnesota – leaks have contaminated drinking wells of nearby homes, the records show, but not at levels violating the drinking water standard. At a fourth site, in New Jersey, tritium has leaked into an aquifer and a discharge canal feeding picturesque Barnegat Bay off the Atlantic Ocean.
In response to the AP’s investigation, two congressman – Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts and Peter Welsh of Vermont, both Democrats – on Tuesday released a study by independent federal analysts who had identified problems with the regulation of underground piping.
The report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office noted that while the industry has a voluntary initiative to monitor leaks into underground water sources, the NRC hasn’t evaluated how promptly that system detects such leaks. “Absent such an assessment, we continue to believe that NRC has no assurance that the Groundwater Protection Initiative will lead to prompt detection of underground piping system leaks as nuclear power plants age,” the report’s authors concluded.
Any exposure to radioactivity, no matter how slight, boosts cancer risk, according to the National Academy of Sciences. Federal regulators set a limit for how much tritium is allowed in drinking water, where this contaminant poses its main health risk. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says tritium should measure no more than 20,000 picocuries per liter in drinking water. The agency estimates seven of 200,000 people who drink such water for decades would develop cancer.
The tritium leaks also have spurred doubts among independent engineers about the reliability of emergency safety systems at the 104 nuclear reactors situated on the 65 sites. That’s partly because some of the leaky underground pipes carry water meant to cool a reactor in an emergency shutdown and to prevent a meltdown.
I have no problem with nuclear power as long as it’s done under safe conditions, this is clearly not done under safe conditions.
What the hell is to US thinking, not fixing rusting pipes that’s supposed to carry water to cool the reactors in an emergency shutdown event to prevent a possible meltdown and as we all know is plagued by tornado’s, earthquakes, floods etc. which could damage the power plant.
Not very intelligent behavior.