Delta, Pennsylvania - Peach Bottom nuclear plant workers performing environmental monitoring this week identified tritium in a localized area on plant property. The tritium was identified on July 8 from a sample that was drawn on July 6.
"This is not a public or employee health and safety issue, but we are committed to being open about the status of our plant operations," said Peach Bottom Site Vice President Bill Maguire. The elevated levels of tritium were found in an area adjacent to the Peach Bottom Unit 3 turbine building. The turbine building is centrally located on plant property and a significant distance from plant boundaries. Plant engineering and environmental teams are working to locate the tritium source and make the necessary repairs. Additional sample testing is being performed to verify that the tritium is contained to the area where it was found. No detectable levels of tritium have been found off-site.
The plant maintains an extensive environmental monitoring program, including routine water sampling from 22 on-site dedicated monitoring wells designed to detect unusual levels of tritium in the environment. The highest sample concentration showed tritium levels of approximately 123,000 picocuries per liter of water. A picocurie is one-trillionth of a curie, which is a measurement of radioactivity.
Exelon Nuclear officials notified state and federal authorities on Thursday after tritium in a sample was confirmed. Exelon will keep government regulators and the public informed about the progress the plant makes on finding the source and making the necessary repairs.
"Our environmental monitoring program works," Maguire said. "It alerted us to the presence of tritium early so that we can address the issue quickly." Tritium is a weak radiation emitter that is used commercially to make luminous dials and instruments, as a source of light for exit and safety signs, as a tracer for biochemical research and in ground water transport measurements, among other uses. A tritium fact sheet from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency can be downloaded at http://www.epa.gov/radiation/radionuclides/tritium.html.