The Monster on the Beach
UPDATED: NRC: 'Very slightly radioactive water' enters Lake Michigan
By Staff reports
The Associated Press
Posted May 06, 2013 @ 02:15 PM
Last update May 06, 2013 @ 03:12 PM
Seventy-nine gallons of "very slightly radioactive water" from a leaky tank at the
troubled Palisades Nuclear Power Plant spilled into Lake Michigan, a Nuclear Regulatory Commission
spokeswoman said today.
There is no risk to human health because the radioactive material was further diluted when it entered a
storage basin before flowing into the lake, NRC spokeswoman Viktoria Mitlyng said. She said there is
"absolutely" no risk to human health.
The plant is 80 miles east-northeast of Chicago in Van Buren County's Covert Township. It's been
under heightened Nuclear Regulatory Commission attention because of a series of breakdown over two
The southwestern Michigan plant was shut down Sunday after officials discovered a growing leak the
day before in a water storage tank.
Safety investigators reported Monday that 79 gallons from the 250,000-gallon tank into a basin holding
thousands of gallons of non-radioactive water, Mitlyng said. She said that water from the tank is no
longer reaching the lake.
Mitlyng said the NRC is sending a metallurgy expert to the plant to inspect the leaky tank once it is fully
drained and pinpoint the source of the leak.
The same tank sprang a leak in 2012, and some of the water caused water seepage into the plant's
control room. Afterward, the NRC set a cap on how much water could leak each day, and the tank
exceeded that limit, Mitling said.
Palisades is owned by New Orleans-based Entergy Corp. It has been shut down nine times since
September 2011, including in February for a different water leakage problem.
News from Beyond Nuclear
For Immediate Release, May 6, 2013
Contact: Kevin Kamps, Radioactive Waste Specialist, Beyond Nuclear, (240) 462
Media Statement by Kevin Kamps, Beyond Nuclear, re: human health and
safety risks from latest leak at Palisades and spill of 79 gallons of radioactive
water into Lake Michigan
“Entergy and U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) spokespersons’ statements
that the spill of 79 gallons of radioactive water into Lake Michigan signifies no threat
to human health or safety should be taken with a big grain of salt.
Claims of ‘very slightly radioactive’ are akin to ‘a little bit pregnant.’ In fact, the fetus in the mother’s
womb is the single most vulnerable human life cycle stage to the hazards of radioactivity.
The Safety Injection Refueling Water (SIRW) storage tank from which this
radioactive water leaked is used to flood the reactor cavity during refueling outages.
While there, it picks up radioactive contamination, in the form of tritium, which is
radioactive hydrogen, as well as other hazardous radioactive substances. It could
very well also pick up radioactive hot particles, emitting significantly high radiation
doses. Any and all such contamination could have been in the 79 gallons of
radioactive water that spilled into Lake Michigan.
Radioactive tritium is clinically proven to be a carcinogen, mutagen, and teratogen.
That is, it can cause cancer, genetic damage, and birth defects.
The U.S. National Academy of Science has reported for decades
–most recently in 2005–
that any exposure to radioactivity, no matter how small, carries a health risk
for cancer, and that such risks accumulate over a lifetime.
Entergy and NRC cannot honestly say that radioactive contamination of the
environment is ‘safe.’ What they really mean is they have decided, doing a
that such radioactive releases are ‘acceptably risky,’ in their
opinion. Of course, the benefit they worry about is Entergy’s profits. The
they find ‘acceptable’ includes some
level of human health damage in
Health studies on just how bad this damage is often go undone,
or are woefully inadequate.
Entergy and NRC advocate that ‘dilution is the solution to radioactive pollution.’ But
Lake Michigan is the drinking water supply for many millions of people. Palisades
has been discharging tritium and other radioactive poisons
–routinely with government permits, and accidentally as through leaks and spills–
for 42 years. Countless communities draw their drinking and irrigation water from Lake Michigan
–at closest range, South Haven. What this means is area and regional
residents are being exposed to a constant, chronic level of exposure to tritium and
other radioactive hazards, over long periods of time.
Radioactive substances even
reconcentrate in the food chain and human bodies, thus undermining any claims of
‘dilution is the solution.’
Entergy and NRC should stop treating Lake Michigan as if it is a radioactive
industrial sewer. It is the headwaters for 20% of the world’s surface fresh water, the
Great Lakes. The Great Lakes provide drinking water for 40 million people in eight
U.S. states, two Canadian provinces, and a large number of Native American First
"VERY SLIGHTLY RADIOACTIVE?"
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