The Radioactive Side of America


One out of four American nuclear facilities registers a leak of Tritium, a radioactive and carcinogen substance, which is yet another flaw in Oyster Creek, New Jersey, the oldest nuclear site. Ground waters have been reached and contaminated.

The nightmares of America do not seem to be over in recent times. Black tides, Pakistani Taliban and financial crackdowns are now accompanied by a new homemade specter. The oldest nuclear facility of the country, located in Oyster Creek, which started operations in 1969, is the latest in the long list of U.S. plants presenting a dangerous leak. The menace is now represented by Tritium, a toxic substance which started leaking more than a year ago.

Also known as “super-heavy water”, Tritium is a hydrogen isotope, a byproduct of nuclear reactions, is highly radioactive, and related to development of cancer if ingested, inhaled or absorbed in large quantities through the skin. The bad news is that this dangerous substance managed to reach the underground waters which plump the main aqueduct in southern New Jersey. This alarm arrived soon after granting the facility the green light to continue its activity until 2029.

Now the Environmental Protection Agency discovered that the containment of the leak was not successful: the Tritium keeps on spreading underground and it devours between thirty and ninety centimeters per day, proceeding in the direction of the wells from which water supply is provided. These wells will have risk of contamination within fifteen years. As a countermeasure, even if there is no immediate risk for drinking water, the EPA ordered a company, Exelon, to monitor the leak and to develop a project which could possibly avoid a contamination which would be quantified as fifty times higher than the limit allowed by the law.

Sadly, Oyster Creek is not an isolated case. Two months ago the radioactive tritium levels affected the groundwater beneath the nuclear facility in Vermont Yankee, located only five hundred meters far from an elementary school.

The same leaks were noticed one week ago in the Oconee plant, South Carolina. According to official sources, a quarter of American nuclear plants, 27 out of 104, could be affected by Tritium leaks. This is a clear sign of how the American plants, old or new, represent an uncontrollable and unforeseeable risk. We are witnessing a situation which will not allow future generations to sleep soundly, as today president Obama commissioned new nuclear power stations for eight billion dollars. These new plants – the first since 1979, after Three Mile Island accident – will be born in Georgia.

Finally, we have to consider the slag issue: Obama, as promised during electioneering, cut every form of financing for the biggest radioactive waste storage facility of America, detected in 2002 by Yucca Mountain, southern Nevada. We have to admit, though, that alternatives to this massive problem have not yet been provided by the president.