York County official: Tritium leak at Catawba plant poses no health risk

Posted May 15, 2013 3:17 pm | Filed under Featured, Local News
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Duke Energy officials said Wednesday low levels of the radioactive matter have been released in water from the Catawba Nuclear Station.

In a written statement, Duke officials, which operate the York plant, said they voluntarily reported the release to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission as well as state and local agencies.

But York County Emergency Management Director Cotton Howell said there’s really no reason to be alarmed after an overnight leak of a water line at the Catawba Nuclear Station.

Howell said plants like Catawba are very complex and contain hundreds of miles of pipe.

“It stands to reason that occasionally they’re going to have one of those pipes leak and if it’s going to leak, let it leak in something going to the waste water plant…and let it leak well within the confines of the plant,” Howell said.

Duke spokeswoman Mary Katherine Green said the release was in excess of 100 gallons of water and the tritium levels in the water were less than one-half of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s drinking water standards and pose no health risks.

“Once we found the water, we immediately took action to isolate the pipe and repair plans are in progress,” said Kelvin Henderson, Catawba site vice president. “All water is contained at the Catawba site and is not in close proximity to any drinking water wells.”

The location of the water leak is about a half-mile inside the station’s property.

Duke officials said Tritium is found naturally in air and water, and is a by-product of nuclear reactor operations. Tritium emits very low levels of radioactivity and leaves the body relatively quickly. Tritium must be ingested in large quantities to pose any significant health risks.

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