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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
2/10/03
03/11

 

Contact: Fred Mumford
609-984-1795

DEP Working with Nuclear Regulatory Commission and PSEG Nuclear
to Investigate Leak at Salem I Plant

(03/11) Trenton— State Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell today said that the state is working with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and PSEG Nuclear to investigate a leak of radioactive water around a spent fuel pool building on site at the Salem I nuclear power plant. The leak was identified when elevated levels of tritium were discovered in ground water and reported last week by the NRC, which regulates the nuclear power industry.

“A month ago, I asked the NRC chairman to intervene personally to ensure that this problem would be promptly and fully investigated. Since then, our radiation experts have been providing advice and conducting our own sampling to help investigate and solve this problem, recognizing that any possible leak of radioactive material into the environment must be prevented and stopped,” said Commissioner Campbell. “Results of ground water tests analyzed by us today show that tritium levels in ground water believed to have leaked from the spent fuel pool building are at similar levels found and reported by PSEG Nuclear to the Department last week.”

DEP routinely takes about 1,200 environmental samples each year at the PSEG facility to monitor air, soil, ground and surface water and biota. Previously, there have not been any radiation levels found above background, or what occurs naturally in the environment, at this facility during monitoring in the past year. Salem I began operating in 1977.

“PSEG Nuclear advised us of the problem as soon as it was discovered and there is no immediate threat to public health and safety,” Campbell said. “We continue to have concerns about contamination of our water resources from this leak and we will work closely with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and PSEG Nuclear to take every appropriate step to safeguard New Jersey’s public health and environment.”

Two on-site wells have shown elevated levels of tritium. PSEG Nuclear tests of the on-site well with the highest result showed 69,000 picocuries per liter of tritium, exceeding the 20,000 picocurie per liter state Ground Water Quality Standard. DEP tests at the same well found 51,000 picocuries per liter of tritium. Additional monitor wells have been sampled by DEP and PSEG Nuclear separately and the results of these ground water tests are being analyzed.

 

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