Groundwater Contamination (Tritium) at Nuclear Plants

Tritium is a mildly radioactive type of hydrogen that occurs both naturally and during the operation of nuclear power plants. Water containing tritium and other radioactive substances is normally released from nuclear plants under controlled, monitored conditions the NRC mandates to protect public health and safety. The NRC recently identified several instances of unintended tritium releases, and all available information shows no threat to the public. Nonetheless, the NRC is reviewing these incidents to ensure nuclear plant operators have taken appropriate action and to determine what, if any, changes are needed to the agency's rules and regulations. The following information provides further basic information on tritium and other isotopes released from nuclear power plants, outlines the status of the unintended tritium leaks and the NRC's actions.

For information related to staff activities on Groundwater Contamination (Tritium) at Nuclear Plants, see our Press Releases, Task Force Report (2006), Task Force Recommendations (2009), Charter for the Groundwater Task Force (2010), EDO Memo with Task Force Report (2010), Senior Management Review of Overall Regulatory Approach to Groundwater Protection (SECY-11-0019 February 9, 2011) and Memorandum to the Chairman – Initiatives for improved communication of groundwater incidents (Feb. 9, 2011).

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Tuesday, March 10, 2020