NRC investigating release of radioactive water at Grand Gulf

by Associated Press

Published: May 9,2011

Tags: electricity, energy, federal government, nuclear energy, utilities

CLAIBORNE COUNTY — Federal safety inspections are at the Grand Gulf Nuclear Power Plant in Claiborne County after the accidental release of radioactive water in late April into the Mississippi River.

Lara Uselding, public affairs officer with the NRC Region IV office in Arlington, Texas, said today that the agency has not determined how much tritium was released. However, Uselding says the release “‘did not represent a hazard to the public” because it would have been diluted by the river.

Uselding said safety officials will be “looking into what occurred and also will be looking into the source of the tritium.”

Although naturally occurring, tritium is also a byproduct of nuclear power operations. Long-term exposure to high amounts can increase a person’s cancer risk.

The NRC had made a preliminary determination that workers went to check for standing water following heavy rains. They found water at Unit Two turbine building, which is an abandoned, partially constructed building, and began pumping the water into the river. An alarm apparently alerted workers to the presence of tritium. The pumps were turned off.

Entergy Nuclear, which operates Grand Gulf, filed a report with the NRC.

Source: AP

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