People keep lecturing me about nuclear power and how it’s perfectly safe, but I’m not convinced:

LACEY TOWNSHIP, N.J. — Radioactive water that leaked from the nation’s oldest nuclear power plant has now reached a major underground aquifer that supplies drinking water to much of southern New Jersey, the state’s environmental chief said Friday.

The state Department of Environmental Protection has ordered the Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station to halt the spread of contaminated water underground, even as it said there was no imminent threat to drinking water supplies.

The department launched a new investigation Friday into the April 2009 spill and said the actions of plant owner Exelon Corp. have not been sufficient to contain water contaminated with tritium.

Tritium is found naturally in tiny amounts and is a product of nuclear fission. It has been linked to cancer if ingested, inhaled or absorbed through the skin in large amounts.

“There is a problem here,” said environmental Commissioner Bob Martin. “I am worried about the continuing spread of the tritium into the groundwater and its gradual moving toward wells in the area. This is not something that can wait. That would be unacceptable.”

The tritium leaked from underground pipes at the plant on April 9, 2009, and has been slowly spreading underground at 1 to 3 feet a day. At the current rate, it would be 14 or 15 years before the tainted water reaches the nearest private or commercial drinking water wells about two miles away.

But the mere fact that the radioactive water — at concentrations 50 times higher than those allowed by law — has reached southern New Jersey’s main source of drinking water calls for urgent action, Martin said.

He ordered the Chicago-based company to install new monitoring wells to better measure the extent of the contamination, and to come up with a plan to keep it from ever reaching a well.

The contamination is not a new issue, plant spokesman David Benson said, questioning the need for Martin’s order.

“We have monitoring wells on site, and the tritium concentration is down steadily, sometimes by as much as 90 percent,” he said. “We are drilling more wells, and we will work closely with the state. We have been all along.”

Should the plant fail to stem the spread of the contaminated water, the state will do it and bill the company for three times the cost as a penalty, the environmental department said.

4 thoughts on “Oops

  1. Perfectly safe. If you don’t mind birth defects and tumors all that much. ‘Cause we have the best health care system in the world, too.

  2. This contamination brought to you by Excelon.

    The same company which had (has?) the same problem with tritium leakage into groundwater in IL. When residents found evidence on such contamination in their drinking water, they approached their US Senator Barack Obama for help in fighting this horror. He initially came out for strong mandatory reporting requirements, but, after he met with Excelon he found that voluntary compliance by industry would work just fine.

    How’s that corporatism thingy workin’ out for ya, Mr. President?

    When I learned about the IL incident, and found with additional reading that this was a pattern in Obama’s interaction with big business, I decided I couldn’t support him for the Dem nomination. Prior to that I’d thought, well, OK, he’s need seasoning and experience, but, hey, if he wins he’s still a strong liberal Dem. Ha.

    Coming soon to groundwater near you. Well, if your drinking water can be reache by leaks from nuke facilities you….

  3. Proponents of nuclear energy like to point to the U. S. Navy’s excellent safety record. The difference between that very successful government run use of nuclear power and any commercially operated plant is that for the latter, the profit motive is always there to make corner-cutting or outright fraud when it comes to safety compliance almost a sure thing. As is the case with coal mines and off-shore oil rigs. But the potential for a truly massive catastrophe leaves me feeling that it’s not a good idea.

  4. Nuclear tests north of Las Vegas. Tourists actually got tans from the explosions.

    Thirty some odd years later, someone tested the ground water at 5000 feet, just to be sure all was OK. Wrong. Pump that crap up to substitute from the Hoover impoundments and poison your children.

    Gee, who could have guessed, now NJ has half of its ground water polluted from one lousy plant. Who could have guessed.

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