NH DHHS Announces the Third Round of Results of Connecticut River Testing in 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 third set of water samples taken from the Connecticut River near the Vermont Yankee (VY) 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 no tritium in excess of the lower limit of detection for the laboratory equipment. These results are the same as the first- and second-round samples.

“We are reassured that the test samples continue to show for all intents and purposes no tritium in the Connecticut River,” said Dr. José Montero, DHHS Director of Public Health. “We are planning to continue testing river water samples on a weekly basis at least until the end of this month, at which time we will reassess our plan based on circumstances at the Vermont Yankee Plant.”

All three rounds of samples were collected from the Connecticut River above and below the VY plant to test for tritium in response to the leak detected by Vermont Yankee officials back in January. All samples were below the 500 pCi/L level, which is the lower limit of detection of the Public Health Laboratory testing equipment. Vermont Yankee officials continue to work to 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 it 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.