TVA Claims Recent Tritium Spikes At Sequoyah Nuclear From Leak in 80s – No Active Leaks

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Paul Simmons, plant manager of Sequoyah, addressed the media this week in part of a TVA pr campaign to ‘demystify nuclear power’.  When asked about the recent Tritium spikes found he claimed that TVA will “keep the people informed”.

“We here at TVA at Sequoyah we are learning from the things that happened over in Japan and we will put the appropriate changes in place both in the operation of our facility and how we train our workers here to be able to protect our Chattanooga area,” says Simmons.

The highest level found in the sampling on Dec. 16 was about 23,000 picocuries per liter in the new well drilled within about 25 yards of Sequoyah’s cooling water discharge channel leading to the Tennessee River.

He said regulations didn’t require TVA to examine where the tritium came from, but the utility had some of the substance analyzed by independent experts who found with dating and tests that it “aligns with a spill that we had in the 1980s.”

He said TVA investigated further and determined that there is no active leak now.  Simmons pledged continued monitoring.

“The newly installed groundwater monitoring wells were placed in an area known to have contained tritium that was previously reported,” He said in a prepared statement. “The health and safety of the public are our primary concern, which is why providing additional monitoring capability to the plant’s groundwater wells is an important measure for protecting the community and the environment.”


TVA spokesman Ray Golden said there is no indication the radioactive material has migrated in groundwater beyond the Soddy-Daisy plant’s property, which borders the Tennessee River.

Golden and Sequoyah Plant Manager Paul Simmons said the elevated level of tritium, found in one of two new onsite monitoring wells at Sequoyah, poses no threat to the health and safety of the public.

Golden said in December that the tritium may be left over from a spill in 2003 when an underground pipe leaked. That leak was found and fixed, he said.


On Friday, John Carlin, vice president at Sequoyah, also addressed the tritium found at spiked levels in a new monitoring well at the plant.

“That doesn’t mean we’ve stopped looking,” Carlin said. “And we’ll keep people informed.”  He said experts believe the tritium plume is stable and isn’t going to move to the river.

In 2003, TVA discovered a significant leak in underground piping carrying tritium-laced water. That underground piping was abandoned and TVA installed new underground pipe to fix the problem

 

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Under normal operating circumstances, the tritium contaminated water is held in holding tanks and gradually mixed with clean water until it is low enough in radiation to be safety released to the river. Those releases are permitted by the state and federal authorities, Golden said.

 

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Source: Times Free Press

Source: Times Free Press


December 20th, 2011 NRC Event Notification

Power Reactor Event Number: 47534
Facility: SEQUOYAH
Region: 2 State: TN
Unit: [1] [2] [ ]
RX Type: [1] W-4-LP,[2] W-4-LP
NRC Notified By: TIM RIEGER
HQ OPS Officer: JOHN KNOKE
Notification Date: 12/19/2011
Notification Time: 17:25 [ET]
Event Date: 12/19/2011
Event Time: 16:44 [EST]
Last Update Date: 12/19/2011
Emergency Class: NON EMERGENCY
10 CFR Section:
50.72(b)(2)(xi) – OFFSITE NOTIFICATION
Person (Organization):
SCOTT FREEMAN (R2DO)
Unit SCRAM Code RX CRIT Initial PWR Initial RX Mode Current PWR Current RX Mode
1 N Y 100 Power Operation 100 Power Operation
2 N Y 100 Power Operation 100 Power Operation
OFFSITE NOTIFICATION DUE TO TRITIUM LEVELS EXCEEDING THRESHOLD FOR DRINKING WATER

“At 1644 EST, on 12/19/11, TVA’s Sequoyah Nuclear Plant made voluntary offsite notifications to the Tennessee Radiological Health Department Director and the Tennessee Department of Environmental Conservation – Senior Director Water Programs, to inform them of the following:

“On October 31, 2011, Sequoyah proactively installed two new groundwater monitoring wells in an area known to have contained previously reported releases of tritium in an effort to further characterize and validate the scope of the plume. These releases were reported in 2006 as part of NEI’s [Nuclear Energy Institute] groundwater initiative. On December 16, 2011, elevated levels of tritium were identified in water samples taken from one new onsite monitoring well. The tritium levels were confirmed to be greater than 20,000 pCi/L which is the threshold for drinking water. No groundwater monitoring wells are used for drinking or irrigation purposes onsite. The highest level sampled was 22,760 pCi/L.

“Samples taken in the discharge channel located 30 yards from this groundwater monitoring well confirmed no detectable tritium. Refueling Water Storage Tank levels are being monitored and no active leak is in progress. Samples of adjacent wells have been taken and confirmed no unexpected changes in tritium levels of these wells. Additionally, Sequoyah has sampled at the station discharge to the Tennessee River and confirmed no detectable levels in any sample.

“In a conservative decision making process and in accordance with the groundwater protection initiative established by the nuclear industry, Sequoyah is voluntarily communicating sample results likely attributed to a previously reported tritium spill. The plant is continuing to review the sample results to confirm this is related to the historical tritium plume. The plant will take appropriate actions as outlined in the Groundwater Tritium Action Plan, which has been initiated to address this issue. Sequoyah Nuclear Plant has had an extensive groundwater monitoring program in place since 2008. The environmental sampling program consists of sixteen groundwater wells which are periodically sampled in accordance with industry standards.

“The NRC Resident Inspector has been notified. The following agencies have been, or will be updated: Hamilton County, State of Tennessee, Nuclear Energy Institute and American Nuclear Insurers. Tennessee Valley Authority plans a media notification for this issue.”

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