The Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) confirmed to the Governor’s Nuclear Advisory Council a plume of radioactive Tritium is in the groundwater.
Tom Clements, Southeast Nuclear Campaign Coordinator for Friends of the Earth said that ”DHEC has documented there is a plume leaking from the site but the problem with Tritium is it’s hard to remediate, it’s hard to clean it up,” he added “So we have to look at ways to stop it from leaking from the dump.”
The plume is monitored annually by the DHEC, but there hasn’t been any long-term solutions on how to keep the ground water safe, according to Clements. He said the plume is moving southwest from the Barnwell Nuclear Site towards the Savannah River site and that traces of Tritium have been found in Mary’s Branch Creek as well.
“The problem is in their annual updates,” said Clements, “We need to make sure the facility is capped off in a better way and better managed so there is less material leaking,” he added.
The site receives nuclear waste from South Carolina, New Jersey, and Connecticut. “95% of its 235 acres are under institutional care”, said Michael Benjamin, the site director.
The Tritium levels are within the federal compliance guidelines however are above the federal standards for drinking water. Clements pointed out that the levels are well above the federal levels for drinking water.
Tritium combines with oxygen and makes the water radioactive, “The level was far above the drinking water standard but fortunately it doesn’t look like anyone was drinking the water,” said Clements.