NH DHHS Announces More Testing Results of Connecticut River in Response to VY Tritium Leak

Concord, NH – The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) today announces the results of the fourth 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 other rounds of testing.

“We did not anticipate detecting any tritium in the Connecticut River especially based on the previous results,” said Dr. José Montero, DHHS Director of Public Health, “but with this changing situation, the results are reassuring. We will continue our sampling and testing as planned, until the investigation and remediation at VY is complete.”

All 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 announced last week that they believe that they have fixed the leak, but their investigation continues.

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.