Response to Tritium Leak at Vermont Yankee
Concord, NH – The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) today announces the results of the second round of samples taken of the water in the Connecticut River near the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant in Vernon, Vermont. The results for these nine samples, which were processed by the DHHS Public Health Lab and collected by the DHHS Emergency Services Unit, again showed that tritium levels were below 500 pCi/L, which is the lower limit of detection for the lab testing equipment. This is the same result for the nine first-round samples, the results of which were announced last week.
“These test results continue to confirm that tritium is not posing a public health threat in the Connecticut River,” said New Hampshire’s Public Health Director Dr. José Montero. “We will continue to monitor the situation, however, until the issue is resolved and we are sure there is no risk to the citizens of New Hampshire from the leak at Vermont Yankee.”
Both rounds of samples were collected from the Connecticut River above and below the Vermont Yankee Plant to test for tritium in response to the leak detected by Vermont Yankee officials back in January. Samples will be collected and tested on a weekly basis at least through the end of March. Five preliminary samples were also taken in February and all were below the 500 pCi/L level as well. Vermont Yankee officials continue to work to identify and fix the leak.
Tritium is one of the least dangerous radionuclides because it emits very weak radiation. It does not pose any hazard externally, but can pose an internal hazard if large quantities are ingested or inhaled. It is present naturally in low levels in the environment.
DHHS’ Division of Public Health Services routinely collects and analyzes hundreds of environmental samples each year around the 10-mile emergency planning zones of both VY and Seabrook Station nuclear power plants to monitor air, soil, ground and surface water, and plants. No radiation levels above what occurs naturally in the environment have been found.
For more information, please visit the Vermont Department of Health website at http://healthvermont.gov/enviro/rad/yankee/tritium.aspx.