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SOUTH HAVEN -- After finding out Wednesday that tritium -- a low-level radioactive substance -- was found in a groundwater monitoring well between Palisades nuclear power plant and Lake Michigan, South Haven Mayor Dorothy Appleyard expressed dismay and vowed to further investigate.
"This surprised me," said Appleyard, whose city sits just a few miles north of the Covert Township power plant. "I want to investigate this further."
The legal limits for tritium in drinking water can vary. The U.S. limit is calculated to yield a dose of 4 mrem (or 40 microsieverts in SI units) per year.
Canada 7,000 Bq/L.
United States 740 Bq/L or 20,000 pCi/L (Safe Drinking Water Act)
World Health Organization 1,000 Bq/L.
USE OF TRITIUM IN ASSESSING AQUIFER VULNERABILITY pdf
Tritium is a naturally occurring radioactive isotope of hydrogen, which decays as a beta emitter. It
is produced in small quantities in the upper atmosphere where it is incorporated into water
molecules and, therefore, present in rainwater and surface recharge to aquifer systems. With a
half-life of 12.3 years, tritium can be used to trace and date ground water, calculate rates of water
circulation in the hydrologic cycle, and assess how long a specific ground water source has been
stored out of contact with tritium laden recharge.
In comparison to many other atmospheric radioactive isotopes, tritium is extremely rare and not
affected by chemical processes. The naturally occurring tritium level in rainwater (pre-bomb) is
estimated at 5 to 10 tritium unit (TU), where one TU = one Tritium atom per 1018 Hydrogen atoms
and an equivalent gross beta radiation 3.2 picocuries/liter. However, the amount of tritium in the
atmosphere was greatly increased as a result of nuclear weapons testing causing recharge waters
to be "tagged" with excess tritium beginning in about 1954. Nuclear weapons testing resulted in
atmospheric tritium levels in excess of 1000 TU. Modern day values have declined to levels
between 50 and 100 TU with the decline attributed to the elimination of atmospheric nuclear
weapons testing and radioactive decay.
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.
Originally posted by Rilence
As a kind of "aside"...
Is there a reason why Canada allows such a higher level of tritium compared to the US ? Is this due to the prevalence of Uranium and Thorium in Canada leaching into groundwater systems as opposed to other countries...
Or something else ?