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UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of ten of America's presidencies and who has edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review, which has been on the web since 1995, is now published from Freeport, Maine. We get over 5 million article visits a year. See prorev.com for full contents of our site

February 16, 2010

MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE OLD NUCLEAR PLANTS. . . .

WPTZ, VT - Vermont's top health official said it's "reasonable to assume" that radioactive tritium leaking from the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant In Vernon is now leaching into the Connecticut River.And a Vermont Yankee spokesman said the plant agrees with that assessment.

Health Commissioner Dr. Wendy Davis said ongoing river testing has not detected the radioactive isotope; however, that is likely because of rapid dilution given the volume of water in the river.

But Davis told WPTZ numerous test wells between the reactor and the nearby river reveal the presence of a large plume of tritium in groundwater, and the water table in that area flows toward the river.

Davis said she's in regular contact with health officials in New Hampshire and Massachusetts about the situation at Vermont Yankee.

Davis said she's also briefing health commissioners from around New England on the situation in weekly conference calls.

Davis said the problem has not yet reached the level of a public health emergency, given the absence of any tritium in public drinking water supplies, nor measurable levels in river samples.

But the high level of contamination in new wells nearest the reactor suggest Yankee inspectors are getting closer to identifying the source of the tritium leak. Vermont's radiological health chief, Bill Irwin, said there could prove to be more than one leaking underground pipe at the site. "And that's why it's important for the investigation to continue to investigate any pipe of similar age."

The New England Coalition, which is a leading critic of Yankee's continued operation, called on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to order a "cold shutdown" at Yankee, to isolate the leaks before further groundwater contamination occurs.



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