To: Vermont Health Care Providers
From: Wendy Davis, MD, Commissioner
Date: January 29, 2010
– For Your Information –
As you have likely heard in the news, on Jan. 7, 2010, the Vermont Department of Health was notified by Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station that samples taken from a groundwater monitoring well on site at the plant contained tritium in concentrations above historical background levels.
Tritium is a radioactive form of hydrogen. It is a by-product of the nuclear fission process in a nuclear reactor, and it also occurs naturally in the environment as the result of cosmic ray interactions with the earth. There is no immediate threat to public health, but this event is of high concern because it signals an unscheduled and unintended release or leak of radioactive materials.
Vermont Yankee, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the Vermont Department of Health are all involved in the investigation to identify the source of the tritium, and the extent and magnitude of contamination.
The Health Department has been working to independently monitor the investigation, conduct independent laboratory tests of environmental samples, and keep Vermonters fully informed as the investigation proceeds.
For regular updates and related information: go to our Web site at www.healthvermont.gov and select “Investigation into Tritium Contamination at Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station.”