DEP ASSISTING IN INVESTIGATION OF TRITIUM LEAK AT SALEM 2 REACTOR
(10/P23) TRENTON -The Department of Environmental Protection is working with the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission and PSEG Nuclear to investigate a leak of radioactive water into catch basins at the Salem 2 nuclear power plant in Lower Alloways Creek Township.
PSEG Nuclear this week identified elevated levels of tritium at two catch basins and reported its findings to the NRC, which regulates the nuclear power industry. The DEP’s Bureau of Nuclear Engineering is on site monitoring the situation.
“We are very concerned and are working closely with PSEG as they investigate this matter,” Commissioner Bob Martin said. “Fortunately it appears that the contaminated water is contained to the catch basins and has not gotten into ground water or the surrounding environment. Still, any leak of tritium is a concern. DEP’s radiation experts will play an important role in the investigation, providing advice and conducting independent sampling.”
Tritium is a mildly radioactive type of hydrogen produced during the operation of nuclear power plants, according to the NRC. It has turned up at some of the nation’s nuclear reactors in recent years as the result of system leaks. PSEG reported a tritium leak to ground water at its Salem 1 unit in 2003.
The DEP routinely monitors air, soil, ground and surface water and biota at the state’s four nuclear reactors - the three units at PSEG Nuclear’s Salem Generating Station and Exelon Nuclear’s Oyster Creek Generating Station in Lacey.
In the recent incident at the Salem 2 reactor, PSEG reported detecting tritium at 1.1 million picocuries per liter in each of the two basins.
“We have been advised that there is no immediate threat to public health and safety and that the contaminated water did not leave the plant site,” Commissioner Martin said. “We will work closely with the NRC and the PSEG Nuclear to take every appropriate step to protect public health and the environment.”