COMMISSIONER MARTIN DISAPPOINTED WITH RESPONSE TO
RADIOACTIVE-WATER LEAKS AT OYSTER CREEK NUCLEAR REACTOR
(10/P42) TRENTON - Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin today expressed disappointment with Exelon Nuclear’s response to a state order requiring the company to take more proactive steps to protect the public from a 2009 leak of radioactive tritium into aquifers beneath the Oyster Creek nuclear plant in Lacey.
A May 14 letter issued by Exelon downplays the DEP’s concerns about the issue and contends the DEP order created public alarm, while also suggesting the DEP does not have authority over issues at Oyster Creek.
“Exelon needs to stop making legal arguments about this issue and spend its time ensuring that tritium does not further contaminate New Jersey’s drinking water supply,’’ said Commissioner Martin. “The DEP is in charge of protecting drinking water in the state of New Jersey. Anything that would endanger a New Jersey aquifer is of great concern to us and demands an aggressive DEP response.’’
“My concerns grow daily as new information about yet another leak has emerged. Debating whether contamination has spread ‘off site’ is irrelevant. Tritium exists at high levels in two of our aquifers.’’
The DEP believes more proactive action is warranted because the contamination reached the Cohansey aquifer, a public water resource held in trust by the state. A DEP Spill Act directive issued on May 7 requires Exelon to install additional and deeper monitoring wells to provide a better understanding of the underground migration route the contamination is taking, and to take steps to prevent it from ever reaching public drinking water supplies.
Exelon’s letter contends the DEP did not provide sufficient advance notice before issuing the directive and that the DEP failed to respond to proposed work plans.
In fact, the DEP has on numerous occasions raised red flags about the quality of the analytical work Exelon has provided in connection with its site investigation reports and work plans, including data errors and missing data.
The DEP, in a Feb. 22 meeting, expressed to Exelon officials doubts about the company’s ability to understand the movement of tritium in the aquifer as well as concerns with overall quality control.
“I am not satisfied that monitoring systems Exelon has put in place are enough. Exelon must cooperate with a broader investigation and take action to prevent tritium from reaching the region’s drinking water supplies,’’ said Commissioner Martin. “Exelon has said they will cooperate completely with the DEP and we fully expect they will.’’
For a copy of the Exelon letter to DEP, visit: http://www.nj.gov/dep/rpp/bne/bnedown/oc_exelon20100514.pdf