Monday, May 10, 2010

New Jersey's Radioactive Water Supply Is No Joking Matter

Making jokes about New Jersey comes as naturally to New Yorkers as giving tourists purposefully misleading directions (not that I've done that of course). Radioactive water in Southern New Jersey however, is not humorous at all (save for the fictional Springfield that the Simpsons live in). This is a real problem, and officials are scrambling to ensure that as much drinking water is protected as possible.

From the AP:

LACEY TOWNSHIP, N.J. — Radioactive water that leaked from the nation's oldest nuclear power plant has now reached a major underground aquifer that supplies drinking water to much of southern New Jersey, the state's environmental chief said Friday.

The state Department of Environmental Protection has ordered the Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station to halt the spread of contaminated water underground, even as it said there was no imminent threat to drinking water supplies.

The department launched a new investigation Friday into the April 2009 spill and said the actions of plant owner Exelon Corp. have not been sufficient to contain water contaminated with tritium.

A friend of mine and I were discussing the safety of nuclear energy last night and I mentioned Indian Point as an example of what can go wrong with nuclear facilities. He's in favor of nuclear power, arguing that newer power plants are much better at containing the harmful effects of radioactive contamination.

Now I grant that the Exelon plant in New Jersey is the country's oldest and that per my friend's assertion, this isn't coming from a newer facility. He also mentioned that even a jet plane could not crack the fifteen foot thick steel-reinforced walls they build for the reactors. However, the fact remains that plenty of older facilities remain open for business and continue to be threats to their surrounding environments. Further, due to the laws of mother nature, eventually these new super structures will decay and become threats. For more information, start at the webpage for the World Nuclear Association.