Laboratory Testing & Results

Investigation into Tritium Contamination at Vermont Yankee

Since January 7, 2010 the Vermont Department of Health has stepped up its environmental surveillance of Vermont Yankee by testing water samples taken from drinking water wells and ground water monitoring wells on site at the plant, and in the surrounding area. Water is being sampled at least weekly for independent testing. Other samples, such as soil, milk, river sediment, and vegetation (when available), are being taken for testing as needed.

Laboratory Test Results

Tritium & Gamma Spectroscopy Test Results
[ 2012-2013 ]PDF document [ 2011 ]PDF document [ 2010 ]PDF document
Independent test results for tritium and gamma spectroscopy. The Vermont Department of Health uses gamma spectroscopy analysis to determine if other radioisotopes - in addition to tritium - are present in samples collected from and around Vermont Yankee site.

Monitoring Well Test Results
Incorporated into our "Investigation Update," this is a list of test results from Vermont Yankee of on-site and off-site drinking water well samples, as well as water taken from the Connecticut River. Results continue to show no tritium in excess of the lower limit of detection (<LLD). No on-site or off-site wells show any other radioactive materials related to nuclear power plant operations.

Soil Sample Test Results and Analyses
Data listings and charts of the laboratory analyses, which are seperately performed by the Vermont Department of Health and Vermont Yankee.
Soil Sampling Sites PDF document - Diagram of the soil study area showing sites.

Connecticut River Fish Tests and Results

As part of ongoing environmental surveillance around Vermont Yankee, the Health Department tests and reports on fish from two locations in the Connecticut River (9 miles upstream of the plant, and at a location outside the Vermont Yankee discharge).

Fish are tested either as a whole fish, or split into edible and inedible portions. The Health Department tests the fish for hard-to-detects and gamma-emitting materials.

Fish types tested were yellow perch, pumpkinseed, bluegill and large and small mouth bass.

Gamma Spectroscopy and Hard-to-Detects

Results Summary:

Strontium-90

Lake Carmi - Connecticut River Fish Data Comparison

Updated Feb. 10, 2012: replaced preliminary data comparison with final.

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Tritium Concentration Graphs

Tritium Concentration Graphs PDF document

These graphs present Vermont Yankee laboratory measurements of tritium concentrations in samples collected from certain groundwater monitoring wells on site at the plant that have shown the highest measurements of tritium, expressed in picocuries per liter (pCi/l).

The location of these wells can be seen on the Monitoring Well Location Map.

Well GZ-10 is close to the site of the major leak that was identified and stopped on February 14, 2010. All evidence points to this site as the major pathway for tritium entering the groundwater.

Results from groundwater samples may change over time, depending on the initial concentration of tritium, the volume of water, and the movement of the groundwater. Groundwater in this area generally flows east to the Connecticut River. Once a tritium leak is stopped, we can expect changes in the test results. Tritium test results from a well that is mid-way between the leak and the river would increase, peak and then decline as the groundwater moves to the river.

The graphs are updated periodically.

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Monitoring Well Location Maps

Monitoring Well Location Map PDF document

Additional Maps, Images & Diagrams (Non Lab)

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Gamma Spectroscopy

Gamma Spectroscopy is an analytical method used by the Department of Health Laboratory to identify specific radioisotopes in a sample. Gamma spectroscopy measures energies and intensities of gamma radiation emitted from samples to identify specific radioisotopes. Each gamma radiation-emitting radioisotope has unique gamma radiation energies and intensities, like a fingerprint, allowing comparison of sample results to a library of known radioisotopes in the identification process.

Common Natural Gamma Radiation Emitters

Actinium-228

Americium-241

Beryllium-7

Bismuth-212

Bismuth-214

Lead-210

Lead-212

Lead-214

Polonium-210

Potassium-40

Protactinium-234m

Radium-224

Radium-226

Radium-228

Radon-222

Technetium-99

Thallium-208

Thorium-228

Thorium-229

Thorium-230

Thorium-231

Thorium-232

Thorium-234

Uranium-233

Uranium-234

Uranium-235

Uranium-238

Nuclear Facility Gamma Radiation Emitters

Antimony-124

Antimony-126

Barium-140/
Lanthanum-140

Cerium-144/
Promethium-144

Cobalt-56

Cobalt-60

Chromium-51

Cesium-134

Cesium-136

Cesium-137

Iodine-131

Iodine-132

Iodine-133

Iodine-135

Krypton-85

Krypton-88

Manganese-54

Plutonium-239

Plutonium-240

Ruthenium-103

Strontium-85

Strontium-89

Tellurium-132

Xenon-133

Xenon-133m

Xenon-135

Zinc-65

Zirconium-95/Niobium-95

 

 

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Testing Your Drinking Water

Once every week, the Vermont Department of Health Laboratory is testing private drinking water supplies of selected residences near the Vermont Yankee site boundary.

To date, none of these wells have shown evidence of contamination with tritium or other radionuclides that would be associated with a nuclear reactor.

If You Want Your Water Tested

For Vernon residents or others interested in having their private drinking water supplies tested, there are several public health laboratories that will analyze private well water for tritium:

Please contact the laboratories directly for information about sampling bottles, quantity of water needed, turnaround times, and cost.

Additional Water Testing Information

For more information and recommendations about water testing and safety:

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