Radiation-Laced Groundwater Could Be More Widespread
than Entergy Nuclear Palisades Knows or Admits
Concerned Citizens Demand Compulsory Testing in Area and Lake Michigan
Note to reporters: On Dec. 10 and 13, the Entergy Nuclear Palisades atomic power plant found concentrations of
radioactive hydrogen, called tritium, in groundwater between the reactor and Lake Michigan that violate U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Safe Drinking Water Act limits. Entergy Nuclear Palisades detected concentrations of 22,000 picoCuries per liter in the groundwater, above EPA’s 20,000 picoCurie per liter Safe
Drinking Water Act limits.
However, technical expert Dr. Arjun Makhijani, President of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, reports that "[t]he scientific models used to evaluate the adverse health impacts of tritium have a number of serious weaknesses." Dr. Makhijani reports that "...tritium can cross the placental barrier. This tritium can then be incorporated into an embryo/fetus and irradiate rapidly dividing cells, thereby raising the risk of birth defects, early miscarriages, and other problems. Tritium therefore provides an important case study for examining how radiation protection standards need to be changed in light of risks to those who are not adult men." Dr. Makhijani, citing the
vulnerability of embryos and fetuses to tritium’s radioactivity, is calling for Safe Drinking Water Act protections to be strengthened as much as 50 times, as has happened in the State of California; the State of Colorado and U.S.
Department of Energy have agreed to protective levels for tritium in groundwater 40 times stronger than the EPA regulations in place at Palisades.
Statement of Kevin Kamps, Radioactive Waste Watchdog at Beyond Nuclear, and board member of Don’t
Waste Michigan representing the Kalamazoo chapter, regarding Entergy Nuclear Palisades’ admitted radioactive contamination of groundwater and the necessity for extensive testing of the area’s groundwater, surface water, and drinking water supply, including Lake Michigan itself.
“Entergy Nuclear Palisades‟ admitted detections are likely but the tip of a radioactive iceberg in the form of tritium contamination spreading throughout the groundwater below, perhaps even into Lake Michigan itself. Palisades‟
admission merely confirms what we have long known – that this nuclear reactor is far from benign, but rather
generates and releases harmful radioactivity into the environment. These leaks have undoubtedly worsened as this now forty year old reactor deteriorates and degrades with age.
In our view, it is criminal for Entergy Nuclear Palisades to trivialize, downplay, and explain away the potential health consequences of such tritium contamination in an attempt to deceive the unsuspecting public.
Area residents and visitors near Entergy‟s Palisades atomic reactor – especially children, the most vulnerable of all –
are at risk from drinking radioactively-contaminated well water or Lake Michigan water. The U.S. Nuclear
Regulatory Commission (NRC), EPA, and the State of Michigan should do their job, and determine the health risks to the residents of Palisades Park resort community, CovertTownship, the City of South Haven, visitors to the Van Buren State Park, and other area residents.
As Dr. Arjun Makhijani at the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research has reported, tritium increases the risk not only of cancer, but also of non-cancerous diseases and maladies in pregnant women and the embryo/fetus,
including „early miscarriages, malformations, and genetic defects. Risks can also be multi-generational given that a
woman‟s ova are produced while she is in her mother‟s womb.‟
Poisoned water has been leaking from the Palisades atomic reactor for who knows how long. Radiation has now been detected escaping as an underground radioactive plume, but the question must be asked, has it begun to contaminate Lake Michigan as well? Nearby residents, and visitors at the Van Buren State Park, may very well have unknowingly consumed, cooked in, and bathed with radioactively contaminated water, risking cancer and birth
defects with repeated and prolonged exposure. Those swimming and fishing near Palisades, as at Van Buren State Park, may also be at increased risk due to radioactivity releases into the Lake Michigan environment.
Area residents and visitors should not be deceived nor satisfied by hollow claims from Entergy or NRC that exposure to tritium is harmless. This propaganda has already been debunked by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, which has declared that there is no safe dose – no matter how small – of radiation.
Area residents and visitors to Van Buren State Park must demand their drinking water be independently and fully tested. Neither Entergy Nuclear nor the NRC can be trusted to protect human health against corporate greed.
Currently, South Haven‟s drinking water authority collects samples of Lake Michigan water from the City‟s water intake system, but then hands them over to Entergy Nuclear for safety testing. This is a flagrant violation of basic
chain of custody protocols designed to prevent fraud and falsification in scientific safety testing. Extensive on-site
and off-site groundwater monitoring should be undertaken immediately. It must be conducted by legitimately independent and trustworthy third parties.
Entergy deceptively reported that the contaminated „well is located inside the owner controlled area and inside the protected area. This well is not a drinking water source.‟ But they apparently have not even checked off-site
groundwater, nor Lake Michigan. Of course, if they do not look for off-site contamination, they will not find it. And
of course, all groundwater is potentially drinking water. The Van Buren State Park‟s campground, immediately adjacent to Palisades nuclear reactor, uses well water for drinking. And the City of South Haven uses Lake Michigan as a drinking water supply, so leaking tritium entering Lake Michigan could flow from residents‟ kitchen sink and bathroom taps as radioactively contaminated drinking, cooking, and shower water.
NRC has allowed Palisades‟ now-closed sister atomic reactor, Big Rock up north in Charlevoix, to discharge 20,000 gallons of tritium contaminated water into Lake Michigan first via the soil, then via the groundwater, like a radioactive septic field. Given the proximity of area drinking water supply intakes in Lake Michigan, this outrage cannot be repeated at Palisades.”
For more information, contact Kevin Kamps at Beyond Nuclear, (240) 462-3216. Also see
http://www.ieer.org/webindex.html#tritium and http://www.nirs.org/radiation/tritium/accidents.htm for more
information on tritium‟s health hazards.
Radioactive Waste Watchdog
6930 Carroll Avenue, Suite 400
Takoma Park, Maryland 20912
Office phone: (301) 270-2209
Cell phone: (240) 462-3216
Fax: (301) 270-4000