Forked River, New Jersey - Exelon's Oyster Creek Generating Station has taken extensive actions to fix, assess, monitor and eliminate the source of tritium contamination under the plant since a leaking pipe was discovered in April 2009.
Water sampling, including sampling of municipal drinking water and the plant's own drinking water well, continues to confirm that no detectable levels of tritium have left the Oyster Creek site and that no drinking water source has been contaminated. Tritium on the site poses no threat to public health. Tritium concentrations in well samples on the plant site continue to decrease steadily with reductions as great as 90 percent since tritium was first detected in April 2009.
For over a year, Oyster Creek has voluntarily pursued an ongoing series of significant monitoring and remedial actions in close coordination with federal and state agencies, including the NJ DEP.
"This is not a new issue and more than 12 months of sampling data confirms that no detectable levels of tritium have left the Oyster Creek site or affected any drinking water source," said Joe Grimes, Exelon's senior vice president for Mid-Atlantic Operations. "Our number one priority is to protect the public health and safety, and we have been and will be successful.
"We continue to cooperate fully and work collaboratively with the NJ DEP and other regulators while we resolve this situation, and we appreciate Commissioner Martin's leadership in assuring that any necessary additional tests are conducted." Grimes said
Exelon reported the discovery of tritium in groundwater under the plant immediately after it was found on April 15, 2009. Since then Exelon:
- Has committed more than 10,000 person-hours so far to pipe repairs, inspection, well monitoring and analysis.
- Has spent $5.9 million responding to the discovery, inspecting and repairing pipes, drilling wells, and sampling and monitoring them. The company has committed another $7 million for those activities through the end of this year.
- Has analyzed daily samples of surface water around the plant, weekly samples from 14 in-ground wells, and additional samples from 20 other wells on the site. All data has been shared with NJ DEP. Exelon has split more than 90 percent of water samples with the state for independent analysis.
- Conducted eight tours and briefings for neighbors and stakeholders covering the leaks and actions under way to mitigate them. Visitors have included Congressional members, local and state elected officials, municipal water officials, news reporters, environmental and conservation organizations and area college students.
- Held two public meetings regarding the leaks that drew more than 240 interested residents.
- Mailed a two-page summary of the cause of the leaks and mitigation actions to 8,000 residents and businesses within a 10-mile radius around Oyster Creek in July 2009.
- Submitted a 90-page report to NJ DEP for the agency's review in July 2009 that detailed the contamination of groundwater on site and the extensive monitoring system in place.
- Submitted a 40+ page environmental assessment and plan for further environmental work to NJ DEP for review and comment in November 2009. The execution of this plan began in October and continues today.
- Briefed DEP staff regarding tritium-related analysis and actions on five occasions since April 2009, not including daily briefings with DEP during the first two weeks following the discovery.
- Analyzed more than 1,000 surface water samples on and near the plant, none of which have contained a detectable level of tritium.
When the mitigation work is completed, pipes at Oyster Creek containing tritium will be far less likely to leak and will either be raised above ground or sealed in monitored concrete vaults. Any future leaks of tritiated water will be detected much more quickly and will be prevented by these structures from entering groundwater. All of these measures were voluntary.
Exelon will continue to work closely with the DEP and all interested parties as monitoring and mitigation work continues.
Tritium occurs naturally in the environment in very low concentrations. Most tritium in the environment is in the form of tritiated water, which easily disperses in the atmosphere, bodies of water, soil and rock. Today, manmade sources of tritium include commercial and research reactors and is used commercially in various self-luminescent devices, such as wrist watches, exit signs in buildings, aircraft dials, thermostat dials, and luminous paints. Tritium is also used in life science research, and in studies investigating the metabolism of potential new drugs.