Still, the situation seemed tense two weeks ago when Exelon reported the incident to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. Two monitoring wells showed higher-than-normal levels of tritium.
“Excavation to identify source leak is underway,” Exelon wrote in the report to IEPA. “Additional sampling is being conducted on the affected wells and the surrounding wells to help define the event. An additional monitoring well has been installed, with plans to install six additional wells to define the extent of tritium in groundwater.”
Exelon set up an “around the clock investigation and remediation team.”
Tritium leaks have been an issue for Exelon’s Illinois nukes in the past. Significant leaks 16 years ago at the Braidwood station in Will County led to litigation with the state of Illinois and the county. Exelon ultimately paid $1.1 million into a fund supporting environmental projects around affected nuclear plants.
Tritium, a radioactive isotope, is found naturally in water. But elevated levels in drinking water are linked to cancer, miscarriages and birth defects. In the Braidwood case, tritium leaks at the plant migrated off the site.
“The Quad Cities water release is not comparable to the Braidwood release,” Exelon said in its statement to Crain’s. “The volume of water was very small, contained on plant property and quickly identified and addressed. As part of our tritium monitoring program, we notify IEPA and (the Illinois Emergency Management Agency) when unintentional tritiated water releases occur. We take our tritium monitoring and stakeholder notification responsibilities seriously and only a few cases have been reported in recent years, none of which impacted public health and safety.”
Additionally, Exelon has said that it’s deferring hundreds of millions worth of scheduled capital projects at its power plants across the country to help blunt the financial impact of its plants’ failure to perform in Texas during the winter-weather crisis. It allowed that some of that deferred work was scheduled for Illinois nukes, but took umbrage at a question as to whether Illinoisans ought to be concerned about plant safety.
“The implication that Exelon would cut corners at its nuclear facilities to offset costs incurred as a result of the Texas storms is absurd,” the company said. “We continually optimize our business to lower costs while continuing to operate our nuclear plants at industry-leading performance levels. A small percentage of the cost reductions identified in the last month will come from deferrals of upgrades within our nuclear fleet. Many of those deferred projects are outside Illinois and none impact water storage or tritium mitigation."
via Crain’s Chicago Business
March 24, 2021 at 05:34PM