Yankee Getting Closer To Finding Source Of Radiation Leak

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(Host) Vermont Yankee says it may be getting closer to finding the source of a radiation leak at the plant.

A test well has turned up relatively high levels of tritium, a radioactive isotope. Plant officials say the finding is good news – since it could pinpoint where the leak is coming from.

VPR’s John Dillon has more.

(Hear sounds of well drilling)

(Dillon) That’s the sound of equipment that’s drilling a test well outside the main reactor building at the Vermont Yankee plant in Vermont.

This is one of about a dozen wells Yankee technicians have sunk in order to test ground water flowing from the plant toward the nearby Connecticut River.

Plant spokesman Rob Williams says one of the wells showed tritium levels at about 775,000 picocurries per liter, about 10 times higher than previously reported.

(Williams) "As they make these findings in terms of the concentrations of tritium, it really directs them to the source. And we got some very good news with the recently installed well just east of the plant’s condensate water storage tank and also some underground piping that appears to be closer to the source."

(Dillon) But James Moore with the Vermont Public Interest Research Group says the discovery of higher radiation levels is not necessarily a positive development.

(Moore) "There’s no good news about much, much higher levels of radioactive contamination in our ground water. Entergy’s version of good news is like their version of the truth. It’s very, very different from what Vermonters understand those words to mean."

(Dillon) For more than a year ago, Entergy officials told the state that the plant did not have underground pipes that could leak. Plant technicians are now looking for those leaking pipes.

For VPR News, I’m John Dillon.

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