Duke Energy officials have reported a spill of water containing the radioactive element tritium last weekend at their Catawba Nuclear Power Plant in northern York County, S.C.
The amount of water containing the tritium was small, Duke Energy officials say, and the entire incident fell below the standards required by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for filing a report.
“The amount spilled was less than 100 gallons containing a very small amount of tritium, triggering our voluntary report to the NRC, state and county officials,” said Mary Kathryn Green, a Duke spokeswoman.
The spill took place about 11:30 p.m. Saturday, according to a report filed with the NRC. In the report, Duke Energy said the incident happened while crews were conducting planned maintenance of Unit 2.
“Water from the main condenser was being pumped to a site collection pond and overflowed, due to exceeding capacity,” the report said. “The source of the spill was stopped.”
Green said the radioactive water was contained one-tenth of a mile inside Duke Energy’s property and was not a threat to any drinking wells.
According to the report, the water contained 8,134 picocuries of tritium per liter. The EPA allows up to 20,000 picocuries per liter in regular drinking water.
Tom Clements, an environmentalist based in Columbia, said the incident was troubling. “Accumulation of tritium-containing water in an on-site collection pond could pose an eventual threat to groundwater,” Clements said.
Green said Duke Energy has a long history of monitoring groundwater supplies and its program is subject to NRC oversight. “There are 46 groundwater monitoring wells across the Catawba plant site,” she said. “We regularly monitor and sample all of our wells.”
Lyttle: 704-358-6107; Twitter: @slyttle
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