United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Communications

This page lists communications between members of the public and the NRC concerning Groundwater Contamination (Tritium).

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For more information, see our Backgrounder on Tritium, Radiation Protection Limits, and Drinking Water Standards.

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Speeches

Speeches concerning Groundwater Contamination:

Date Description
02/17/10

Agency Addresses Tritium Issue

Speech S-10-002, From NRC Reporter, Vol. 6, Issue 8, March 3, 2010

The agency is addressing the issue of tritium leakage in several ways.

Chairman Gregory Jaczko spoke about the issues in his speech at a nuclear industry conference 17-Feb-2010, and the Office of Public Affairs has posted relevant material on a public webpage.

Speaking at the sixth annual Platts Nuclear Energy Conference in Bethesda, Chairman Jackzo acknowledged that the conference is an important forum for discussion “the opportunities, challenges, and implications of the resurgence of interest in nuclear power,” and the majority of his comments related to those issues. However, he pointed out, current concerns about leaking pipes and tritium highlight the fact that “NRC must always stay focused on ensuring that the existing fleet continues to operate in a safe, secure, and environmentally sensitive manner.”

“That is our core mission, and I assure you that the agency has not lost sight of that,” he said.

Chairman Jaczko said that tritium leakage takes on greater significance in the area of public perception: “People are asking legitimate questions – what’s leaking, where’s it leaking, how much is leaking, and – most importantly – what’s being done to deal with the problem?”

The Chairman said that the agency always inspects licensees who have such leaks and in each case makes certain that the licensee is taking the appropriate steps to find the source and to protect the public and the environment. While that is being done, “We always have to ask ourselves at every turn whether we can we do more,” he said. “That’s why the agency is participating in a buried piping task force to evaluate the need for specific corrosion protection standards that could be implemented at nuclear power plant facilities.”

03/07/06

A Road Less Traveled...a Road not Far...Soon, -Nils J. Diaz, Chairman

Excerpt from speech concerning groundwater contamination

  • One oversight issue that requires attention is the management of tritium from a radiological protection standpoint. The NRC is diligently reviewing recent and ongoing instances of groundwater contamination involving tritium at operating and decommissioning power reactors. Tritium contamination is currently being addressed at power reactor sites in several States, including Illinois, New York, and Arizona. Tritium is a weak beta emitter and is found extensively in nature. From my perspective, the fundamental issue in these cases is that, regardless of the minimal public health and environmental impacts of these contamination events, the releases were uncontrolled and identified after the fact. Beyond tritium and these particular cases, I believe that the industry as a whole should proactively address unanticipated radioactive releases from the technical and environmental standpoints.

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Testimony

Testimony concerning Groundwater Contamination:

Date Description
03/09/06

Statement Submitted by the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission to the Committee on Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Clean Air, Climate Change, and Nuclear Safety - United States Senate Concerning NRC Oversight

Excerpt from testimony concerning groundwater contamination

  • Radiological Protection
    As part of NRC's requirements for operating a nuclear power plant, licensees must keep releases of radioactive material to unrestricted areas during normal operation as low as reasonably achievable and comply with radiation dose limits for the public. In addition, NRC regulations require licensees to have various effluent and environment monitoring programs to ensure that the impacts from plant operations are minimized. The permitted effluent releases result in very small doses to members of the public living around nuclear power plants. The NRC oversees these licensee programs to ensure adequate protection of public health and safety and the environment. Recently, the NRC staff has been monitoring instances of, and licensee actions to address, groundwater contamination involving tritium at operating and shutdown power reactors undergoing decommissioning. In addition, the NRC is in the process of establishing a tritium lessons learned task force to review these incidents and identify lessons learned from them to determine what, if any, changes are needed.

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Correspondence

Correspondence concerning Groundwater Contamination:

Date

Description
03/08/10
NRC Seeks Comments On Proposed Staff Guidance Regarding Radioactive Liquid Spills At New Nuclear Power Plants
03/01/10
NRC Demand For Information – Vermont Yankee
02/24/10
Press Release 10-036: Statement Of NRC Chairman Gregory B. Jaczko On Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant
06/10/09 Preliminary Notification Of Event Or Unusual Occurrence, PNO-III-09-004, Exelon Generation Company, Dresden 2 and 3: Tritium Leak
11/07/07
Preliminary Notification Of Event Or Unusual Occurrence, PNO-II-07-012A , Catawba Nuclear Stations: Onsite Ground Water Tritium Contamination at the Catawba Nuclear Station Site (Update)
10/16/07
Preliminary Notification Of Event Or Unusual Occurrence,  PNO-III-08-011, Quad Cities: Tritium Leakage
10/11/07
Preliminary Notification Of Event Or Unusual Occurrence, PNO-II-07-012, Catawba Nuclear Station Units 1 & 2: Onsite Ground Water Tritium Contamination
06/14/07
Preliminary Notification Of Event Or Unusual Occurrence, PNO-II-07-005, Brunswick Steam Electric Plant: Onsite Surface Water and Ground Water Tritium Contamination
09/08/06
Preliminary Notification Of Event Or Unusual Occurrence - PNO-III-06-020, NRC’s Review Of Exelon’s Plans For Resuming Radioactive Discharges Through The Braidwood Blowdown Line
09/07/06 NRC Response Letter -- Resumption Of Liquid Radioactive Discharges Through The Braidwood Circulating Water Blowdown Line
09/01/06 Braidwood Station Information Letter -- Resumption of Liquid Radioactive Discharges Through Blowdown Line
08/15/06 Preliminary notification of event or unusual occurrence -- PNO-IV-06-010, Tritium Detected In Water Samples Taken On The San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station Unit 1 Site
07/28/06 Braidwood Station. Reply to Notice of Violation: EA-06-081, “Final Significance Determination for a White Finding and Notice of Violation (NRC Inspection Report 05000456/200601 2; 05000457/ 2006012 (DRS)); Braidwood Nuclear Power Plant, Units 1 and 2,” dated June 29, 2006
07/28/06 Letter from Nuclear Energy Institute Re: Proposed Director’s Decision Under 10 CFR 2.206
07/20/06 Letter from D. Lochbaum Re: Proposed Director’s Decision Under 10 CFR 2.206
06/30/06
Preliminary Notification Of Event Or Unusual Occurrence, PNO-IV-06-009 Union Electric Company/Callaway Plant: Radioactive Contamination Identified by Licensee at Locations Along the Plant Discharge Pipeline
06/30/06 Preliminary Notification Of Event Or Unusual Occurrence, PNO-IV-06-008A, U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey: Update - Leakage of Contaminated Water from Storage Tank
06/29/06 Final Significance Determination For A White Finding And Notice Of Violation (NRC Inspection Report 05000456/2006012; 05000457/2006012 (DRS)); Braidwood Nuclear Power Plant, Units 1 And 2
06/28/06 Proposed Director's Decision Under 10 C.F.R. 2.206
06/13/06 Preliminary Notification Of Event Or Unusual Occurrence, PNO-III-06-015, Braidwood: Braidwood Tritium Contamination Issues (Update)
05/25/06 Braidwood Nuclear Power Plant, Units 1 And 2, Baseline Inspection Report05000456/2006008(DRS); 05000457/2006008(DRS); Preliminary White Finding
05/11/06 NRC Region III Tritium Inspection Activities
04/26/06 Letter from D. Lochbaum Re: Petition Requested Actions Vs. Rulemaking
04/20/06 Preliminary Notification Of Event Or Unusual Occurrence, PNO-III-06-004B, Byron Units 1 and 2: Resumption of Effluent Discharges (Update)
04/07/06
Preliminary Notification Of Event Or Unusual Occurrence, PNO-III-06-011, Exelon Generation Co./Braidwood: Tritiated Steam Released to the Environment
04/06/06 Preliminary Notification Of Event Or Unusual Occurrence, PNO-III-06-009, FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Co./Perry Nuclear Power Plant: Low Level Tritium Identified in Underdrain System
04/06/06 Braidwood -- Groundwater Tritium Interim Remediation
03/31/06 Preliminary Notification Of Event Or Unusual Occurrence, PNO-III-06-004A, Exelon Generation Co/Byron: Tritium Leakage (Update)
03/30/06 Preliminary Notification Of Event Or Unusual Occurrence, PNO-III-06-007, Exelon Generation Co/Braidwood: Tritium Contamination Issues
03/17/06 Preliminary Notification Of Event Or Unusual Occurrence, PNO-IV-06-001, Arizona Public Service Company/Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station: Followup for Tritium Contamination Found in Water Onsite
03/16/06 Indian Point Nuclear Generating Unit 2 - NRC Special Inspection Report No. 05000247/2005011
03/15/06 Preliminary Notification Of Event Or Unusual Occurrence, PNO-III-05-016D, Braidwood/Exelon Generation Co.: Tritium Contamination Issues (4th Update)
03/09/06 Braidwood Tritium Contamination, Questions and Answers
03/03/06 Event Notification Report, Event Number: 42381, Palo Verde, OFFSITE NOTIFICATION, Discharge of non-hazardous material that has the potential to cause groundwater limits to be exceeded
03/01/06 Acknowledgment Letter for D. Lochbaum Ground Water 2.206 Petition
02/15/06 Preliminary Notification Of Event Or Unusual Occurrence, PNO-RIII-06-004, Exelon Generation Co./Dresden and Byron: Tritium Leakage
02/03/06 Preliminary Notification Of Event Or Unusual Occurrence, PNO-III-05-016C, Exelon Generation Co. Braidwood: Potential Off-Site Migration of Tritium Contamination (3rd Update)
02/02/06 Letter from D. Lochbaum Re: Supplement to Petition Pursuant to 10 CFR 2.206-Enforcement Action -Longstanding Leakage of Contaminated Water
01/25/06 Letter from D. Lochbaum Re: Petition Pursuant to 10 CFR 2.206-Enforcement Action- Longstanding Leakage of Contaminated Water
01/18/06 Preliminary Notification Of Event Or Unusual Occurrence, PNO-RIII-05-016B, Braidwood 1 and 2: Potential Off-Site Migration of Tritium Contamination (2nd Update)
12/07/05 Preliminary Notification Of Event Or Unusual Occurrence, PNO-RIII-05-016A, Braidwood 1 and 2: Potential Off-Site Migration of Tritium Contamination (Update)
12/01/05 Preliminary Notification Of Event Or Unusual Occurrence, PNO-RIII-05-016, Braidwood 1 and 2: Potential Off-Site Migration of Tritium Contamination
11/03/05 Preliminary Notification Of Event Or Unusual Occurrence, PNO-I-05-028, Connecticut Yankee Atomic Power Company (Haddam Neck): Haddam Neck Report of Spent Fuel Pool Leak
11/03/05 Indian Point Monitoring Well MW-111 Tritium 30 Day Special Report
07/25/03 Preliminary Notification Of Event Or Unusual Occurrence, PNO-I-03-024, Public Service Electric Gas Nuclear LLC (PSEG): Elevated Tritium Levels in Groundwater - New Information

NRC Documents

NRC Documents concerning Groundwater Contamination:

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Page Last Reviewed/Updated Friday, May 10, 2013