Back on March 23, WTTW-TV's Chicago Tonight broadcast a story on the tritium leaks at Exelon's Braidwood Nuclear Power Plant. A friend of ours, Dimitri Dimitroyannis, Ph.D., a member of the Clinical Faculty in Radiology at Harvard Medical School, was less than impressed with what he saw. A letter he wrote to the program, which he authorized us to use here at NEI, follows:
Good Chicago Tonight folks:Seems pretty definitive to me. I wonder if they have the guts to take him up on his offer.
I was distressed by your Madigan vs Exelon report ( Thursday 23-Mar-2006 by Ms Brackett) and especially on the alleged health risks from the tritium leak in the water table surrounding the Exelon nuclear powerplant.
Avoiding technical jargon on the risks associated with drinking tritiated water, let me propose the following: I am willing to drink water at the current maximum EPA tritium concentration (20pCi/ml) for the rest of my life-starting with a water a demonstration in front of your TV cameras.
I estimate that if I consume 2 liters per day -about 8 average size glasses- of such tritium "contaminated" water, I will receive the same amount of additional radiation exposure as if I were to:
(a) spend one weekend a year skiing in Colorado, or
(b) fly one-way, once a year NYC-LA on a commercial jet.
To put the severity of the reported tritium leak in perspective, only one out of 13 tested wells outside the Exelon property showed measurable levels of tritium and that single measurement was at about 10% of said EPA level.
If we were to transform the Exelon Braidwood powerplant from nuclear to coal fired-and brushing aside the issues of greenhouse emissions, acid rain generation and mercury releases- we would have increased by one-hundred-fold the radiation exposure of the surrounding area, by releasing as gas the naturally occurring, radioactive components of coal. (These radioactive releases from coal fired plant have been well documented, do not seem to produce epidemiologically detectable radiation induced injuries and are *NOT* environmentally regulated)
I was not expecting Illinois Attorney General Madigan-a lawyer by training and a politician by trade- to be able to grasp the technical side of the issue. However, Chicago has such a long and proud tradition in the nuclear sciences that you should have had no problem locating a mainstream, qualified physicist from the area to consult on the risks relating to the reported incident.
I am sure you will be willing to provide a more balanced coverage by hosting a tritiated water drinking demonstration for your needlessly worried audience
I am anxiously awaiting to hear from you,
--Dimitri Dimitroyannis, Ph.D
Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital and
Clinical Faculty in Radiology, Harvard Medical School
Technorati tags: Nuclear Energy, Nuclear Power, Environment, Energy