State samples show no measurable increases in radiation near Byron
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[February 07, 2012]
SPRINGFIELD -- Laboratory
analysis of environmental sampling conducted by the Illinois
Emergency Management Agency last week showed no measurable increases
of radiation in the environment as a result of a steam release from
the Byron Nuclear Generating Station. The release occurred during an
"unusual event" incident at the plant on Jan. 30, following a loss
of off-site power.
"Our laboratory results confirm that the steam release at the Byron
nuclear power plant on (Jan 30) presented no health hazard for
people who live and work in the area," said IEMA Director Jonathon
On Jan. 31, an IEMA environmental monitoring team
collected water and vegetation samples that were analyzed for
tritium in the agency's radiochemistry laboratory in Springfield.
The testing included water samples from four locations where routine
samples were taken on Jan. 11. Results from the samples collected
last week were statistically the same for three of the samples.
A fourth sample showed a lower level of tritium in the Jan. 31
sample than the Jan. 11 sample, which had an activity concentration
of 519 picocuries per liter. Monken said the level isn't cause for
concern, as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency maximum
contaminant level for tritium in drinking water is 20,000 picocuries
per liter. Therefore, the measured activity concentration is almost
39 times less than the USEPA maximum contaminant level for tritium
in drinking water.
In addition, vegetation samples were collected from four areas.
IEMA identified potassium-40, a naturally occurring radionuclide, in
the samples. Levels detected ranged from 3.26 to 6.37 picocuries per
gram. Because it is naturally occurring, potassium-40 can be found
in many other items, including bananas. Bananas average
approximately 3.5 picocuries per gram of potassium-40.
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Tritium is a radioactive, but naturally occurring isotope of the
element hydrogen. It is also produced during the operation of
nuclear power plants.
Results from the Jan. 31 sampling near the Byron nuclear plant
and a fact sheet about tritium are available at
PDF with summary of monitoring results and a tritium fact
Emergency Management Agency news release received from
Illinois Office of
Communication and Information]