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“In the United States, 49 million Americans receive their drinking water from surface sources located within 50 miles of an active nuclear power plant —inside the boundary the Nuclear Regulatory Commission uses to assess risk to food and water supplies.” (“Too Close to Home: Nuclear Power and the Threat to Drinking Water“, Environment America-PIRG,2012) We have learned from Windscale, Chernobyl, and Fukushima that the radioactive fallout can travel much further than 50 miles.
Comment on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Notice: [Nonprotective Inaction ] “Guide for Drinking Water after a Radiological Incident” (PAG) here: https://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=EPA-HQ-OAR-2007-0268 by 11.59 pm on 25 July 2016. It is quick, easy and can be anonymous.
Early in the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster
Nuclear Power Stations Legally Leak Radioactive materials into the environment, including waterways, on a routine basis, which is why the US, and other countries, have Clean Water rules limiting them in drinking water. The US EPA seeks to undermine the rule by issuing recommendations to state and local governments-utilities which suggest that it is ok to increase radiation in water in the event of a nuclear accident. But, there is no safe dose of ionizing radiation. And, the lethal nature of radionuclides is why there are legal limits on the amount legally allowed in drinking water (although none should be allowed). Furthermore, the EPA so-called guidance is written in a confusing way which could easily be misinterpreted leading to even higher exposure and risks.
According to US EPA: “Radionuclides in Drinking Water: A Small Entity Compliance Guide“, p. 3:
For maps see: “Do you live within 50 miles of a nuclear reactor? One third of Americans do…” http://www.psr.org/resources/evacuation-zone-nuclear-reactors.html
Palisades Nuclear Power Station on Lake Michigan, apparent outfall of contaminated water.
Waterford Nuclear Power Station on the Mississippi, apparent outfall of contaminated water. New Orleans gets water just downriver (approx. 30 miles).
“Discharge Paths – continuous to Mississippi River.” http://web.archive.org/web/20160509053632/http://pbadupws.nrc.gov/docs/ML0403/ML040350289.pdf
“Nuclear power plants rely on water. Water is the medium by which the heat unleashed from a nuclear reac-tion is harnessed to generate steam to turn a turbine and create electricity. Water also plays a critical role in cooling both nuclear power plants and spent nuclear fuel….” (p.6, Intro, “Too Close to Home: Nuclear Power and the Threat to Drinking Water“, Environment America- PIRG, 2012)
“In the United States, 49 million Americans receive their drinking water from surface sources located within 50 miles of an active nuclear power plant —inside the boundary the Nuclear Regulatory Commission uses to assess risk to food and water supplies. Airborne contamination in the wake of a nuclear accident is not the only threat nuclear power poses to water supplies. Leakage of radioactive material into groundwater is a common occurrence at U.S. nuclear power plants, even if the amount of radioactivity released is tiny compared to that released at Fukushima. In addition, U.S. nuclear power plants draw their cooling water supplies from critical waterways nationwide—making those water supplies the natural destination for spilled or dumped radioactive liquid, and putting them at risk of contamination in a Fukushima-type accident… The Fukushima nuclear accident contaminated a large area, and threatened drinking water over an even larger area… The U.S. government urged its citizens to leave areas within 50 miles of the plant… Airborne radiation contaminated drinking water supplies outside the evacuation zone, including 130 miles away in Tokyo…
According to data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Americans in 35 states drink water from sources within 50 miles of nuclear power plants. New York has the most residents drawing their drinking water from sources near power plants, with the residents of New York City and its environs making up most of the total. Pennsylvania has the second most, including residents of Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Harrisburg. The Indian Point plant in New York is close to the water supplies of the greatest number of people; 11 million New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey residents drink water from sources near the plant. Twenty-one different nuclear plants sit within 50 miles of the drinking water sources serving more than 1 million people…
Major cities, including New York, Boston, Philadelphia, San Diego, Cleveland and Detroit receive their drinking water from sources within 50 miles of a nuclear plant. New York City receives its drinking water from within 20 km of the Indian Point nuclear station. Water contamination is not only a threat in the event of a major nuclear accident. 75 percent of U.S. nuclear plants have leaked tritium, a radioactive form of hydrogen that can cause cancer and genetic defects. Tritium can contaminate groundwater and drinking water, and has been found at levels exceeding federal drinking water standards near U.S. nuclear power plants.
• A tritium leak from the spent fuel pool at New York’s Indian Point Energy Center, discovered in 2005, went undetected long enough for radioactive water to reach the Hudson River.
• Tritium leaking from underground pipes at Braidwood Nuclear Generating Station in Illinois reached nearby drinking water wells; the leak was discovered in fall 2005.
Table ES-1: Top 10 States by Population Relying on Water Intakes within 50 Miles of Nuclear Plants
Rank State Total Population Relying on Water Sources within 50 miles of Nuclear Plants
1 New York 9,974,602
2 Pennsylvania 6,651,752
3 Massachusetts 4,821,229
4 North Carolina 3,753,495
5 New Jersey 3,286,373
6 Ohio 2,844,794
7 California 2,362,188
8 Virginia 2,022,349
9 Michigan 1,521,523
10 Connecticut 1,511,605
The Fukushima nuclear reactor used seawater as a source of emergency cooling for the stricken reactors, with large releases of radioactivity to the Pacific Ocean. U.S. nuclear reactors draw their cooling water from a variety of important waterways….” Excerpted from “Executive Summary” pp.1-4 “Too Close to Home Nuclear Power and the Threat to Drinking Water” Environment America Research & Policy Center, U.S. PIRG Education Fund Rob Kerth Frontier Group Jen Kim U.S. PIRG Education Fund Sean Garren and Courtney Abrams Environment America Research & Policy Center January 2012 (Emphasis added). Read the report here: http://environmentamericacenter.org/sites/environment/files/reports/Nukes%20and%20H20%20vUS.pdf
Read more: http://www.environmentamerica.org/home
“Each commercial nuclear power plant is required to submit two annual reports, which detail (1) the radioactive effluents discharged from the site,…” Find the official reports here:
http://www.nrc.gov/reactors/operating/ops-experience/tritium/plant-info.html Recall that one curie (Ci) is 37 BILLION radioactive emissions (shots) PER SECOND. Be attentive if the report is in liters (l) or the much smaller milliliters (ml).
NB: Something which is lethal does not have to always cause death. But, it is capable of causing death. Some of the online pro-nuclear lobby don’t appear to know the difference. See: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/lethal How much risk do you want to take for the nuclear utilities to make more money? How many dead before the nuclear lackeys call it lethal? 100%? How many dead animals? Animals don’t benefit from the clean-water rule anyway, unless they are house pets. Both the EPA’s clean water rule and the NRC allow dilution and even encourage it.