Dresden Station finds tritium leak

MORRIS – Dresden officials have finally located the tritium leak in one the facility's water tanks.

Evidence of a leak turned up last Saturday when environmental officials identified tritiated water on the property.

The leak was found in a storage tank in the middle of the site and is no bigger than the end of a pencil, according to Dresden site communications manager Bob Osgood.

The tank was drained and officials are still considering how to repair the leak.

Osgood said an unidentified amount of tritium leaked into the groundwater at the Morris facility, but assured it does not compromise private residents' water supplies. Exelon will begin removing the tritiated water in July, Osgood said.

He also added that a small amount of tritiated water was discharged into the Kankakee River after it went through the facility's sewage treatment plant. Osgood said the amount was less than 1 percent of the amount Dresden is permitted to release in the water.

"It's such a tiny amount that it easily becomes diluted and poses no threat to the public," Osgood said.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, drinking tritiated water could lead to cancer as the radioactive liquid goes directly into soft tissues and organs.

A radioactive isotope, tritium occurs naturally in the environment in very low concentrations, but also is a byproduct of nuclear reactors.

People are exposed to microscopic amounts of tritium daily, however, prolonged exposure can increase the risk of cancer.

The EPA claims tritium is “one of the least dangerous radionuclide” as it emits very low energy radiation and leaves the body relatively quickly – usually in about a month.