Perry Nuclear says Tritium found in groundwater

The Perry Nuclear Power Plant has sent a notification after a water leak containing Tritium was discovered.

According to the plant, the leak of water from a steam pipe was found on Monday afternoon. Samples taken at the site of the leak found tritium in the under drain system of the plant's Auxiliary Building.

The plant says work is underway to repair the leak.

Water samples taken showed tritium levels in excess of limits set by the Environmental Protection Agency.

A spokeswoman for FirstEnergy which handles the plant says the water was captured and remains in a storage area under the plant and that the water did not go into the lake. The spokeswoman says there is no danger to public health.

A Nuclear Regulatory Commission inspector has been notified of the event as required.

Channel 3 contacted Lake County's Emergency Management Director Larry D. Greene regarding the leak. The plant is located in Lake County.

The plant's 10-mile Emergency Planning Zone includes Lake County and parts of Geauga and Ashtabula counties.

Greene said he was made aware of the leak about 2 a.m. Tuesday. He, in turn, notified the sheriff's departments in the zone as required.

Greene said the level of the event is an "event of potential public interest," the lowest of the notification levels.

The NRC says tritium is a weakly radioactive isotope occurring naturally in nuclear plant operations. It can be found in self-luminescent items like wristwatches and aircraft dials.

This is the second event in the past seven months at the plant.

Back in June 2013, the plant was shut down while maintenance workers repaired a contained leak of radioactive steam.

There was no danger to the public during that incident, according to FirstEnergy officials at the time.

"At no time was there any danger to the public, or even our workers at the plant. We did not have any leakage that exited the plant, it was all contained within a system that was there to capture water from the plant," said FirstEnergy Corporation spokesperson Jennifer Young.

Back on June 17, a busted weld on a vent line at the plant meant some steam that should be part of the reactor's re-circulation system was instead seeping into a sump system chamber used to capture excess steam.

The pump is working according to plan, said Young, but the steam amounts indicated the issue.

"When we saw the number of water going through the plant increase, we shut down the plant to proactively look for any leak," Young said back in June.

Perry Nuclear Power Plant Facts:

Perry's single unit boiling water reactor produces 1,268 megawatts of electricity, enough to power more than 1 million homes. It is located on 1,100 acres on the shores of lake Erie. The plant received its license in 1986 and is licensed to currently operate until 2026. It employs 720 people and pays more than $14 million annually in property taxes.


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