FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Contact: Eric Young – (202) 331-5439
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
Coalition Seeks Government Action to Prevent
Further Ground Water Contamination
WASHINGTON, Jan. 25 – A coalition of 22 organizations petitioned the Nuclear Regulatory Commission
(NRC) today in response to seven reports over the past decade, three in the past year alone, that nuclear power plants, research reactors, and other nuclear facilities leaked radioactively contaminated water into the ground.
The petition calls for owners of nuclear facilities across the United States to answer questions about the potential for undetected, longstanding leaks of radioactively contaminated water into the ground. These leaks went undetected for as long as 12 years and allowed as much as several millions gallons of contaminated water to get into the ground and migrate off the plant’s site.
“The NRC has been treating the leaks as isolated events,” said David Lochbaum, Director of the Nuclear Safety Project for the Union of Concerned Scientists. “But seven events in ten years suggests a trend rather than a series of isolated events. With this evidence, the NRC should take steps to require other owners to check and see if they may have an undetected leak in progress and to minimize the chances of a future leak at their facilities.”
The petition seeks answers to questions about the potential for leaks and the available methods to detect leakage.
The series of leaks strongly suggests that one remaining undetected for a long period of time could result in the release of more radioactive materials than allowed by federal regulations. These regulations limit the amount of radioactive materials released to the air and water to protect the American public from the harmful consequences of radiation exposure.
“Millions of Americans live downwind and downstream of nuclear facilities,” said Lochbaum. “The NRC should not require a petition to live up to their standards but it is clear they do. The coalition’s petition will help NRC enforce its regulations, and in doing so, protect American lives.”
The NRC has an array of tools to ensure its federal regulations are being met, but has limited their use to forcing owners to clean up contaminated water that has leaked.
Formed in 1969, UCS is a nonprofit partnership of scientists and citizens combining rigorous scientific analysis, innovative policy development and effective citizen advocacy to achieve practical environmental solutions.