Steam containing radioactive tritium escaped from a valve at an Exelon Corp. plant even as company officials met with local residents to discuss efforts to clean up earlier leaks.
About 500 gallons of water pooled on the grounds of the Braidwood Generating Station as the steam condensed Thursday, and some of it flowed into a ditch that lies between the plant and the village of Godley, company spokesman Craig Nesbit told the Chicago Tribune for a story on its Web site.
Friday, April 07, 2006
RADIOACTIVE STEAM LEAK IN ILLINOIS
Near Godley, Ill., according to the Associated Press:
Keep out of the ditch.
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While I don't want to minimise this, there are some things to be considered in evaluating it.
First, tritium is a short-lived isotope - half-life of 12 years. So really doesn't present any lasting danger, since it will immediately rise to the upper atmosphere and quickly be lost to space.
The key number is the number of REMs of radioactivity that were released. I suspect it will be very low ... not much beyond background levels. This is not the kind of reactor that produces large amounts of tritium.
Second, the reactor engineering has finally gotten to the point where these water-cooled facilities are not the answer. A sodium-cooled facility will utilize 90% of the available fuel, (instead of about 20%), and produce radioactive by-products with half-lives of hundreds of years rather than tens of thousands - thereby reducing the problems with waste to a clearly manageable level.
The Soviets used these reactors in their sub fleets and there are two in current operation in Europe. They are the future ... not coal... as we seem to be married to around here.
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