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Dresden Station Environmental Monitoring Identifies Tritium at Station

Dresden Generating Station’s technical experts identified water containing tritium in on-site monitoring points through the station’s environmental monitoring program.


MORRIS, Ill. (June 8, 2014) - Dresden Generating Station's technical experts identified water containing tritium in on-site monitoring points through the station's environmental monitoring program.

"Our monitoring program functioned as designed, alerting us to the presence of tritium early so we can address the issue quickly and effectively," said Dresden Site Vice President Shane Marik.

Exelon officials notified state and federal regulatory officials today.

On Saturday, June 7, the station's environmental team identified tritiated water in one of the station's 83 environmental monitoring wells located near a water storage tank. The station will be working around the clock to excavate the area around the tank, find the location of the leak, and make repairs.

Samples taken from the station's on-site waste water treatment facility also showed low levels of tritium. The station has not detected any unusual levels of tritium offsite.

Dresden's waste water treatment plant operates in the same manner as all waste treatment facilities following all state and federal regulations. The sanitary wastewater from the plant is cleaned, disinfected and discharged to the Kankakee River.

These sample points are part of the station's extensive environmental monitoring program designed to detect unusual levels of tritium in the environment and are tested on a monthly basis.

"We are keeping our commitment to and are firm believers in sharing new tritium findings with the public," said Marik. "We care about the environment and will be doing everything humanly possible to quickly find the leak source and fix it."

Tritium concentrations are measured in picocuries per liter of water. A picocurie is one-trillionth of a curie, which is a radiological measurement.

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.

Tritium is used in life science research, and in studies investigating the metabolism of potential new drugs. A tritium fact sheet from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency can be downloaded at:
Dresden Generating Station is approximately 60 miles southwest of Chicago. The station's two nuclear energy units can produce a total of more than 1,800 megawatts at full power - enough carbon free electricity to power more than 1.2 million typical homes. Dresden Unit 1, which began commercial operation in 1960 and was retired in 1978, has been designated a Nuclear Historic Landmark by the American Nuclear Society.