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Radioactive groundwater found at Westingouse SC nuclear fuel factory

‘You guys have gotten me afraid.’ Radioactive groundwater found at SC fuel factory, The News and Observer, BY SAMMY FRETWELL, sfretwell@thestate.com November 09, 2018 , COLUMBIA, SC 

Groundwater at Westinghouse’s nuclear fuel factory on Bluff Road is contaminated with unsafe levels of radioactive material from years-old leaks that state and federal regulators only learned about in the past year.

Recent tests found levels of radioactive uranium that exceed safe drinking-water standards at two test wells adjacent to the nuclear fuel-rod plant southeast of Columbia, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said during a community meeting.

Thursday night’s meeting was held as part of Westinghouse’s application for a new 40-year license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to operate the Bluff Road plant.

………. Thursday night’s revelation of high uranium levels in two test wells follows news this year about other leaks and spills at the Westinghouse plant, a major employer in the Columbia area since opening in 1969.

The NRC did not learn about the 2011 leak until last year and, only recently, found out about the 2008 leak from the fuel rod plant. Westinghouse did not tell the agency at the time the leaks occurred because that was not required, the company and federal officials have said. The leaks occurred in the same area of the factory, three years apart.

The 2008 and 20111 leaks are not the only concern.

In July, Westinghouse told state and federal regulators it had discovered that a uranium solution leaked through a hole in the floor in another part of the plant this summer and contaminated the ground.

Unlike the 2008 and 2011 leaks, regulators say they haven’t found that the uranium that leaked this summer got through the ground and into the water table below. The company is cleaning up that leak by excavating nine feet of tainted soil, Westinghouse spokeswoman Courtney Boone said.

Residents living near the plant expressed concerns Thursday about the safety of the facility. About 70 residents attended Thursday’s meeting at a Garners Ferry Road conference center.

Residents are concerned groundwater pollution could affect the private wells from which they draw drinking water. They also worry about the possibility of a nuclear accident.

……….. Critics of the plant say Westinghouse should not get a 40-year operating license because of problems at the site. …. https://www.newsobserver.com/news/state/south-carolina/article221376635.html

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November 10, 2018 - Posted by | incidents, USA

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