Radioactive Rivers and Rain:
Routine Releases of Tritiated Water From Nuclear Power Plants

By Annie Makhijani and Arjun Makhijani, Ph.D.

     Nuclear power plants generate tritium in the course of their operation and release it both to the atmosphere and to water bodies. Tritium releases have also occurred as a result of malfunctions such as leaks (referred to by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NR C) as "unintended releases") from several nuclear power plants. One such example of leaks was at Exelon's Braidwood plant in Illinois.

     Many reactors have experienced leaks that have not been monitored. Further, releases of tritiated water vapor from the stacks of nuclear power plants can result in radioactive rainfall, which can contaminate surface water bodies as well as groundwater. The NR C does not require monitoring of rainfall or water bodies that may be contaminated by radioactive rainfall (unless the water is otherwise required to be monitored).
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