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One Oyster Creek Well Still Showing High Levels Of Tritium

High levels of radioactive tritium are still being seen in one of the eight monitored wells in Lacey Township, more than three years after a pair of spills were detected at the Oyster Creek Power Plant.

A new study released by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection shows that while plant owner Exelon began pumping Tritium in 2010, resulting in dramatic drops of the chemical in the Cape May and Cohansey aquifers; one well still shows a level of radioactivity four times the safe amount.

Through December more than 63 million gallons of groundwater have been pumped and sent through Oyster Creek’s intake canal to be diluted and released into the Barnegat Bay.

The government limit for tritium in groundwater, drinking water, and surface water is 20,000 picocuries per liter (pCi/L). The latest DEP testing shows that while six of the seven wells are below the twenty thousand picocuries threshold, one well shows a larger reading of radioactivity-78,100 pCi/L

– MW-15K-1A: Highest reading, 2.8 million picocuries per liter; latest reading, less than 210.
– MW-50: Highest, 2.8 million; latest, 18,000.
– MW-51: Highest, 2.2 million; latest, 6,350 (well reported dry since October 2011).
– MW-55: Highest, 1.47 million; latest, 1,730.
– MW-56I: Highest, 1.19 million; latest, 5,350.
– MW-57I: Highest, 761,976; latest, 6,690.
– MW-67: Highest, 1.17 million; latest, 78,100.

DEP spokesman Larry Rangonese notes overall regular pumping and testing of the wells has shows dramatic improvement in the amount of radiation present in the water. Noting the wells have decreased from upwards of three million picocuries to well under the allowable twenty thousand in many cases.
He says that while one well is showing higher than desired levels, he points out no tritium has been found leaving Oyster Creek and into any drinking water sources-which are monitored closely.

“So while there maybe one reading that is a little bit elevated in one well which is down dramatically, there is evidence of any problem with tritium in the drinking water.”

While all the wells are falling below federal guidelines, Rangonese says they aren’t able to pinpoint the exact reasoning for the results of well 67

“It’s extremely difficult to pin this to a specific cause, so we evaluate the fluctuations. There’s nothing to indicate any new sources of tritium that are contributing to the plume.”

He says there is no reason to believe there is any health risk from the contaminated wells.

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