While we’re debating the safety of nuclear power, it’s easy to overlook two significant nuclear accidents. No one is talking about these in the traditional press.
It is believed at least 180,000 gallons of contaminated water was released from the plant on April 9, 2009, through two small holes in separate pipes. There is evidence that contamination 50 times higher than DEP standards has now reached the Cohansey aquifer, a significant drinking water resource for much of South Jersey.
About 500,000 people live within a 13 mile radius of the station.
And Vermont Yankee seems to blow a leak every other day.
In January 2010, tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen, was discovered leaking into the groundwater on the basis of a sample taken from a monitoring well in November 2009. Detected levels of the isotope were initially below the maximum amount deemed acceptable for drinking water by the Environmental Protection Agency. By mid-January, however, levels of tritium had continued to rise to 20,000 picocuries per liter (pCi/l), the federal limit for drinking water. The head of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission told Vermont’s congressional delegation that the agency will devote more resources to addressing concerns about Vermont Yankee, and expected to find the source of the tritium leak there within the next several weeks.
On February 4, 2010, Vermont Yankee reported that groundwater samples from a newly dug monitoring well at the reactor site were measured at about 775,000 pCi/l (more than 37 times the federal limit). On February 5, 2010, samples from an underground vault tested positive for 2.7 million pCi/l. On February 14, 2010, the source of the leak was found – a pair of steam pipes inside the Advanced Off-Gas (AOG) pipe tunnel – and stopped.
That’s just one of several leaks. And, in 2007, part of a cooling tower collapsed. All in all, Vermont Yankee sounds like Mr. Burns’ nuclear power plant in The Simpsons.
Oh, and by the way, both nuclear power plants are the same design as Fukushima Daiichi.
Adding… Yes, fossil fuels might be deadlier than nuclear depending on what metrics are employed. I think my overall point in all of this is, given the twin energy disasters of the past year (not to mention the Vermont and New Jersey accidents), we need to rethink all of it. Investing in the same old dirty technology clearly isn’t working, so why not pump as much investment and innovation into discovering a clean, affordable, renewable alternative that solves all (or most) of these problems — national security, environmental, economic and civilian safety issues?