Routine Onsite Inspections Show Increased Levels of Tritium at the La Crosse Boiling Water Reactor (LACBWR) Decommissioning Project

Tests Indicate Drinking Water and Public are Safe

Salt Lake City, Utah/Genoa, Wisconsin – March 12, 2018 –EnergySolutions and Dairyland Power Cooperative executed an agreement for the decommissioning of the La Crosse Boiling Water Reactor (LACBWR) site located in Genoa, Wis. In 2016, the official license for operational control of LACBWR was transferred to La CrosseSolutions, a subsidiary of EnergySolutions, and approved by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Dairyland retains ownership of the LACBWR site and operates the adjacent Genoa #3 coal-fired power plant.

Ongoing water and air quality monitoring is conducted throughout the decommissioning process. Analytical results from a routine sampling event indicated elevated levels of tritium in the monitoring well closest to the reactor building. Following that sampling event, one additional well showed an elevated tritium presence.

As a precaution, Dairyland Power Cooperative directed their employees working at the Genoa Site to switch to bottled drinking water instead of well water on March 6. This was a prudent and cautious step during further testing. Drinking water wells are much deeper than the groundwater monitoring wells. Test results received March 12 indicate the drinking water wells onsite are safe. Historical groundwater flow gradients indicate that public drinking water sources are not impacted by the release.

EnergySolutions is using Haley & Aldrich, a national environmental consulting firm experienced in this area, to assist EnergySolutions in further testing and development of a groundwater monitoring plan to monitor the source of the tritium.

The State of Wisconsin and the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission were briefed and are closely following the issue.

What is tritium? Tritium is a hydrogen isotope that emits low energy radiation and is produced naturally in the upper atmosphere when cosmic rays strike air molecules. It is also produced in nuclear reactors when water flows through the reactor during operation. Tritium gas is commonly used in exit signs. It emits low energy radiation that causes the light emitting compound in the sealed glass tubes to glow.

Background on LACBWR: LACBWR was built in 1967 as part of a joint project with the federal Atomic Energy Commission to demonstrate the peacetime use of nuclear power. LACBWR was shut down and placed in safe storage in April 1987. Final decommissioning is progressing on schedule with demolition to be completed in 2018.

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