Quantcast
Energy
Westinghouse Electric's nuclear fuel plant. HighFlyer

Uranium Leaked Through Floor of South Carolina Nuclear Plant

A nuclear plant in Richmond County, South Carolina with a history of contaminating groundwater has leaked radioactive uranium into the soil below the plant, The State reported Tuesday.


South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) officials said there was no reason to believe this leak left the the site of the Westinghouse plant or posed a threat to public drinking water, but state senator Darrell Jackson is calling for a public meeting to discuss the leak and other historic issues at the plant, The State further reported Wednesday.

"This is very disturbing," Jackson said. "This is one of the fears that those of us who grew up in that area, and lived in that area, have always talked about. I'm asking DHEC to get to Westinghouse officials and let's have a public meeting, not just with elected officials, but we need citizens there also.''

The company informed the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) of the leak July 12, which came through a hole in a part of the plant where acid is used. The hole was three inches and extended six feet into the ground, the NRC told The State.

The NRC found uranium levels in the soil of 4,000 parts per million, more than 1,000 times higher than average for soil.

"That's a lot, oh yeah," U.S. Geological Survey scientist Frank Chapelle told The State.

The company has covered the hole with a metal plate and said it would not use the area until it was completely repaired.

The DHEC said they were still testing the groundwater on the site to see if it was contaminated, but said the plant itself was far enough away from public drinking water that it shouldn't cause a problem.

"Based on existing information, there is no threat to the public from this recent release or from historical groundwater contamination at this secured site as there is no exposure risk to the general public," DHEC spokesperson Tommy Crosby told The State.

But Jackson was not reassured.

"What we don't know is what kind of impact that's going to have 20 years from now on the groundwater, this drip, drip, drip," Jackson said. "I don't know of too many people too receptive to living in the area when they know the groundwater is contaminated."

DHEC spokesperson Cristi Moore said the agency would consider the senator's request for a meeting.

This isn't the first time safety concerns have surrounded the Westinghouse plant.

Part of the plant had to shut down two years ago because of uranium found accumulating in an air pollution device, The Associated Press reported. It was also cited by the federal government this year for failing to plan adequately for a potential radiation burst.

Groundwater below the plant has also been found to be contaminated with nitrate since 1984. While clean up efforts were made, the nitrate was not entirely removed, The State reported.

The leak comes as the Trump administration has promised to assist unprofitable nuclear and coal plants. Its most recent plan, reported in June, would require that grid operators buy power from struggling plants for the sake of national security.
Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Health
A family wears face masks as they walk through the smoke filled streets after the Thomas wildfire swept through Ventura, California on Dec. 6, 2017. MARK RALSTON / AFP / Getty Images

How to Protect Your Children From Wildfire Smoke

By Cecilia Sierra-Heredia

We're very careful about what our kids eat, but what about the air they breathe?

Keep reading... Show less
Health
Hero Images / Getty Images

Study: Children Have Better Nutrition When They Live Near Forests

Spending time in nature is known to boost mental and emotional health. Now, a new global study has found that children in 27 developing nations tend to have more diverse diets and better nutrition when they live near forests.

The paper, published Wednesday in Science Advances, provides evidence that forest conservation can be an important tool in promoting better nutrition in developing countries, rather than clear-cutting forests for more farmland.

Keep reading... Show less
Health
Navy torpedo bomber spraying DDT just above the trees in Goldendale, WA in 1962. USDA Forest Service

Maternal DDT Exposure Linked to Increased Autism Risk

A study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry Thursday found that mothers exposed to the banned pesticide DDT were nearly one-third more likely to have children who developed autism, Environmental Health News reported.

Keep reading... Show less
GMO
Significant cupping of leaves from dicamba drift on non-Xtend soybeans planted next to Xtend beans in research plots at the Ashland Bottoms farm near Manhattan, KS. Dallas Peterson, K-State Research and Extension / CC BY 2.0

Top Seed Companies Urge EPA to Limit Dicamba

Two of the nation's largest independent seed sellers, Beck's Hybrids and Stine Seed, are urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to place limits on the spraying of the drift-prone pesticide dicamba, Reuters reported.

This could potentially hurt Monsanto, which along with DowDupont and BASF SE, makes dicamba formulations to use on Monsanto's Xtend seeds that are genetically engineered to resist applications of the weedkiller. Beck's Hybrids and Stine Seed, as well as other companies, sell those seeds.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Food
Baby son in high chair feeding father. Getty Images

Baby Food Tests Find 68 Percent Contain 'Worrisome' Levels of Heavy Metals

Testing published by Consumer Reports (CR) Thursday found "concerning levels" of toxic metals in popular U.S. baby and toddler food.

The consumer advocacy group tested 50 nationally-distributed, packaged foods designed for toddlers and babies for mercury, cadmium, arsenic and lead.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke talks to journalists outside the White House West Wing before attending a Trump cabinet meeting on Aug. 16. Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Zinke Announces Plan to Fight Wildfires With More Logging

The Trump administration announced a new plan Thursday to fight ongoing wildfires with more logging, and with no mention of additional funding or climate change.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Energy
Wangan and Jagalingou cultural leader Adrian Burragubba visits Doongmabulla Springs in Australia. The Wangan and Jagalingou are fighting a proposed coal mine that would likely destroy the springs, which are sacred to the Indigenous Australian group. Wangan and Jagalingou

Indigenous Australians Take Fight Against Giant Coal Mine to the United Nations

By Noni Austin

For tens of thousands of years, the Wangan and Jagalingou people have lived in the flat arid lands of central Queensland, Australia. But now they are fighting for their very existence. Earlier this month, they took their fight to the United Nations after years of Australia's failure to protect their fundamental human rights.

Keep reading... Show less
Politics
Jones Gap State Park in Greenville County, South Carolina. Jason A G / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

Victory for Clean Water: Court Reinstates Obama WOTUS Rule for 26 States

A federal judge invalidated the Trump administration's suspension of the Clean Water Rule, effectively reinstating the Obama-era regulation in 26 states.

The 2015 rule, also known as Waters of the United States (WOTUS) defines which waters can be protected from pollution and destruction under the Clean Water Act. It protects large water bodies such as lakes and rivers, as well as small streams and wetlands.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!