Last month, the La Crosse Boiling Water Reactor, on the banks of the Mississippi River in Wisconsin, was found to be leaking radioactive tritium (the radioactive form of hydrogen) into the groundwater.
Again, clean, safe, cheap nuclear power comes to the aid of a hungry nation.
The La Crosse Tribune reported on March 14 that the company LaCrosseSolutions (a subsidiary of Utah-based EnergySolutions) reported a reading of 24,200 “picocurie”-per-liter in water taken from a monitoring well on Feb. 1. The US Environmental Protection Agency allows up to 20,000 picocuries-per-liter tritium in drinking water.
The EPA estimates that seven of 200,000 people who drink such water would develop cancer. So the nuclear industry has somehow earned a government license to kill, if you will. But, hey, 24,200 picocuries per-liter isn’t that much over the allowable cancer rate.
LaCrosseSolutions is working an $85 million contract to “decommission” the La Crosse reactor. The small water boiler was shut down in 1987, 31 years ago, but damn if it isn’t still trashing the environment. You gotta hand it to the long reach of the nuclear industry: It keeps on poisoning even three decades after going of business.
The Dairyland Power Co-op isn’t alone in its despoiling of the Earth. (The Co-op ran the reactor from 1967 to ’87, transferring its license to LaCrosseSolutions in 2016.) In June 2011, Jeff Donn’s four-part, year-long investigation for the Associated Press reported that tritium leaks were found at 48 of 65 US reactor sites, three-quarters of the country’s commercial reactor operations, “often from corroded, buried piping.”
La Crosse’s reactor-borne tritium in the groundwater is a danger to everyone drinking it, but the Tribune news report noted, “[T]he monitoring well was just 25 feet below the surface and not used for human consumption.” This should come as a great relief to anyone in the area using well water that’s not been tested.
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