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Monday 24th October 2016

New Jersey water 'radioactive'

11th May 2010

Water in New Jersey is tainted with toxic radioactivity from a local nuclear power plant, according to a state environmental agency.


The water is contaminated with tritium, a type of radioactive hydrogen that binds easily with oxygen.

The New Jersey government issued a directive to the Exelon Corporation, the company responsible for the radioactive leak, requiring them to clean up the tritium.

However, the contaminated water has been leaking into the environment for just over a year.

Although another US government body noticed the leak when at least 180,000 gallons of contaminated water were released from the plant in April of 2009, it did not pressure Exelon Corporation to clean up the spill.

Now, the level of radioactive contamination in one of New Jersey's main aquifers is 50 times higher than the US standard.

New Jersey Commissioner Bob Martin said that he was worried about the contamination, and that he felt the New Jersey government had an obligation to protect the groundwater for the state's residents.

Although toxic levels of the substance can be absorbed through the skin and gut, Martin said there was no public health threat from the tritium.

Tritium is difficult to trace, and easily ingested through contaminated produce.

Plant spokesman David Benson said that he did not see the need for Martin's order, since the issue was already known to people at the plant.

He said that the amount of tritium generated by the plant was never null, and that the plant has also worked closely with US government authorities on the issue of tritium contamination.

The US authorities and the plant officials are not the only people who already knew about the radiation leaks, however.

For four years, environmental groups petitioned that the plant's license to operate be revoked.

David Pringle of the New Jersey Environmental Federation said that Exelon's Oyster Creek plant was a major threat to people's drinking water, and that the plant was leaky because of its age.

Julia LaMense of the Eastern Environmental Law Clinic said that the US government's Nuclear Regulatory Commission was too trusting of the Exelon corporation.

The plant is located 60 miles east of Philadelphia and 75 miles south of New York City.

It generates enough electricity to supply 9% of New Jersey's homes, and received a new 20-year operating license last year.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Exelon insist Oyster Creek can operate safely until it is 60 years old. But environmental groups disagree.

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