Greenfield, MA. January 21, 2010. The Connecticut River Watershed Council today demanded an independent assessment of tritium leaks at the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. “The situation calls for immediate intervention and public oversight,” said CRWC Executive Director Chelsea Gwyther responding to reports that radioactive tritium, at concentrations of 2 million picocuries per liter, was found in two wells, a containment room, and possibly an underground trench at the nuclear plant in Vernon, VT.

“Groundwater contamination of this magnitude — 100 times the federal drinking water standard — is unacceptable. Not being able to immediately pinpoint its source is deeply troubling, especially when the well is only 30 feet from the Connecticut River.”

Reports that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission will send out an investigator next week to look into the leaks were little comfort to Gwyther, whose group challenged Entergy Nuclear’s practice of bypassing its cooling towers and dumping heated effluent into the river downstream of their nuclear plant in the Vermont courts, “This is something that calls for immediate answers,” said Gwyther, “Why wait until next week when concentrations are getting higher and higher every day?”

David Deen, river steward for the upper valley, today demanded, “Vermont’s Agency of Natural Resources and New Hampshire’s Department of Environmental Services should be out on the river tomorrow assessing the impact of the latest leaks on the aquatic ecosystem. “

“This is not just a local issue, it’s of regional concern given the potential impacts on surrounding communities and the river downstream,” Gwyther said. “We know the thermal impact from their hot water discharges can extend 50 miles downstream to Holyoke. The public deserves to know the extent of the tritium leaks as well, and as soon as possible.”

Gwyther says communities have an absolute right-to-know about pressing groundwater and river pollution issues, “The pretense of plant security should not be used to obscure what’s occurring here,” she said, “There appears to be a growing pattern of misinformation coming out of Vermont Yankee. That’s very disturbing to all of us who care about our communities and the Connecticut River.”

Based in Greenfield, MA, the CRWC works to protect the entire four-state Connecticut River watershed through advocacy, restoration, outreach, and recreation.

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For press information contact: Chelsea Gwyther, Executive Director, at: 413-772-2020, ext. 202, (413) 658-8552 cell, cgwyther@ctriver.org, or David Deen, VT/NH River Steward, at: 802-869-2792, ddeen@ctriver.org

About CRWC: Founded in 1952. Accomplishments include restoring access to spawning areas for migratory fish, protecting over 8,000 acres, and mobilizing volunteers to conduct water quality testing and remove over 100 tons of trash from local waterways through the annual Source to Sea Cleanup. Learn more at www.ctriver.org.