Entergy Corporation announced it has identified and stopped the source of tritium leakage at its Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant and has begun initial work to support the remediation of soil and groundwater at the plant site.
The successful effort to identify the source of the leakage, fix the problem and prevent a recurrence capped an intense and rigorous effort by Entergy with the oversight of state and federal regulators that began in January when elevated levels of the radionuclide tritium were detected in monitoring wells built for that purpose.
Vermont Yankee engineers involved in the tritium investigation said the leakage came from two separate pipes inside a concrete tunnel. A floor drain that normally would have taken the water from the Entergy tunnel for normal processing was found to be clogged with debris and mud. This allowed the tritiated water to seep through an unsealed joint in the tunnel wall to the soil and eventually the groundwater.
There has been no detectable tritium level found in any drinking water well samples at the Vermont Yankee site or in the Connecticut River. Both the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Vermont Dept. of Health have said that the tritium in the groundwater at Vermont Yankee has not been a threat to public health and safety. Tritium is a radioactive form of hydrogen that occurs naturally and is also a byproduct of nuclear plant operations.