Radioactive water released into river at Grand Gulf

Published 12:00am Wednesday, May 4, 2011

PORT GIBSON — An unknown amount of radioactive water was released accidentally into the Mississippi River late last week at the Grand Gulf Nuclear Station.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is investigating the incident, but suggests the release poses no public health hazard.

Entergy Nuclear, which operates Grand Gulf, filed a report with the NRC explaining that crews located standing water at the plant last week after the area experienced heavy rains.

Water was found Thursday at the Unit 2 turbine building — which is an abandoned, partially constructed building — and began pumping the water into the river.

An alarm apparently alerted workers to the presence of tritium, a byproduct of the nuclear reactor processes. The pumps were turned off stopping the flow. Investigators are not certain why tritium was in the storm water or how it got there.

“Although the concentrations of tritium exceeded EPA drinking water limits, the release should not represent a hazard to public health because of its dilution in the river,” said Lara Uselding, public affairs officer with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Region IV.

Tritium has several uses, including being a component in triggering mechanisms on thermonuclear weapons systems. The substance is often used in conjunction with phosphor material to create permanent illumination for items such as wristwatch dials and night-sights for firearms.

Information from the United States Environmental Protection Agency suggests exposure to tritium increases the risk of developing cancer, because tritium emits low-energy radiation and is processed through the human body quickly, it is considered one of the least dangerous radionuclides.

  • Anonymous

    Supposedly, Admiral Rickover drank a glass of reactor coolant water on the floor of the Senate.

  • don smith

    This is so cool. Ttritium is the best tasting of all the atomic elements. I like it with a pinch of nutmeg. Hopefully i can get a gallon or so before it dissipates in the river.

  • Anonymous

    Must have contributed to his demise in 1986.

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, I’m sure being almost 90 had nothing to do with it.

  • Susan Rabb

    I put up that I was furious on the sidebar, only because it took so long to inform us that this had happened!!!

  • Anonymous

    Then maybe it contributed to his longevity??? U want some?

  • Anonymous

    Or maybe it had no effect whatsoever. I’d no sooner drink reactor coolant water than toilet water. I doubt either would actually harm me but still not my beverage of choice.

    My point here is that this “incident” poses no health hazard whatsoever. 61% of readers are “furious” about something they don’t even understand. I find that sad but typical.

  • Anonymous

    Agreed, I seldom check the emotions blank since the categories are ridiculous. They could be more meaningful to get the message across.

  • Anonymous

    Sound like they may well be onto somethign dude. WOw.

  • Karl

    you dont understand it either and your only example was one person drinking coolant water – and thinking every species (human or non-human) reacts to it the same. thanks for the essentialist biology course of garbage.

  • Anonymous

    Do yourself a favor and read up on tritium. It has been flowing down the Mississippi River for longer than I have been alive.