Tennessee Valley Authority officials have reported finding elevated levels of tritium in a groundwater sample taken from a monitoring well at the Sequoyah Nuclear Plant.
TVA spokesman Ray Golden and other officials said the elevated level of tritium, found in one of two new onsite monitoring wells, poses no threat to the health and safety of the public.
"The newly installed groundwater monitoring wells were placed in an area known to have contained tritium that was previously reported," Sequoyah Plant Manager Paul Simmons 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."
Golden said there are a total of 16 groundwater monitoring wells on the Sequoyah site.
The highest level found in the sampling on Friday, Dec. 16, was about 23,000 picocuries per liter.
Golden said the Environmental Protection Agency's drinking water standard is 20,000 picocuries per liter. The nuclear industries "voluntary reporting level" also is 20,000 picocuries per liter, he said.
A "curie" is the standard measure for the intensity of radioactivity contained in a sample; a picocurie is one trillionth of a curie.
Golden said the tritium has been detected in groundwater, which is not used for drinking water or irrigation purposes, and no potable water wells are downstream of where the tritium was found.
For complete details, see tomorrow's Chattanooga Times Free Press.