Vermont Yankee: Tritium turns up again

By Susan Smallheer 
Rutland Herald
Published: Saturday, October 09, 2010
VERNON, Vt. — Radioactive tritium has showed up in a new area at Vermont

Yankee: 200 feet deep in bedrock in a former drinking water well at the nuclear reactor.

The news, which Entergy Nuclear disclosed to state regulators Friday afternoon, was a surprising development, said William Irwin, radiological health chief for the Department of Health, despite the fact that the 360-foot-deep well was only about 150 feet away from the original source of the radioactive leak.

Irwin said that hydrogeological tests and models led officials to believe the tritium was heading toward the Connecticut River, and not moving deep into the bedrock.

“One reason it was unexpected is the bedrock is so deep there, and the pressures of the well were upward,” he said. “Tests were indicating that there would be very little chance of tritium showing up in this well.”

The tritium was at low levels and was found in a bedrock fracture that fed into Entergy’s now-closed well at the construction office building. He said it was possible the tritium was found in the well as a result of cross-contamination from testing done on the well, but he said that would be hard to pinpoint.

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