Entergy Corp: Precautionary Measures After Finding Small Leaks

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Following discovery of small leakage on the wall of a spent fuel pool at Indian Point, energy provider Entergy Corp is conducting impact assessment and precautionary measures. The U.S. Nuclear Energy Regulatory Commission (NRC) provides ongoing monitoring.

Company and U.S. officials assure that there is no adverse impact to the public.  Drinking water was unaffected in the area near Entergy’s Indian Point 2 and Indian Point 3 facilities. These plants provide up to 40% of electricity used in New York City and Westchester.

Periodically, company technicians move spent fuel from reactors to cement-walled storage pools lined with metal for extra protection. In early September, technicians discovered two “hairline cracks� and some moisture on the pool wall for unit 2, beneath the ground. In preparation for spent fuel transfer, the company had excavated about 20 feet into the ground to create landing dock when it made the discovery.

Officials believe the cracks are typical of those developed while curing the cement walls. “The cracks pose no threat to the pool and its ability to function as storage,� Jim Steets, a company spokesman says. The cracks may be “in an area that was welded or perhaps even in a small area repaired by Con Edison in 1992,� he notes. The welded area is the possible source of the leak.

Company technicians analyzed moisture found on the wall, coming from the leak,  and found it “slightly radioactive,â€? Steets says. The company is now checking all the monitoring wells at the facility. By periodically testing water purity in these wells, the company can determine possible contaminants from the storage pools. “We found that one well near the spent fuel had tritium in amounts above safe EPA level .. Tritium is a radioactive isotope made up of hydrogen,â€? Steets says. The well is located by the pool. “This is not water used for drinking or near water reservoir. Drinking water around Indian point is city water not well water,â€? Steets explains.

Impact of the leakage on the public is “negligible,� concurs NRC spokesperson Dianne Screnci. There is “no impact on the drinking water,� she emphasizes. The Commission is monitoring further tests being conducted by Entergy and a determination of overall impact will be made available in a matter of weeks.

Entergy is inspecting the lining of spent fuel pool working with a company that employs sophisticated cameras. The company also will work with a hydrologist to determine the water flow path underground to determine where to locate additional monitoring wells.


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