The Radiological Health Program evaluates and manages the actual and potential public health impacts on Vermonters from activities at the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station, located in the town of Vernon in Windham County.
Tritium Contamination Investigations
Tritium is a radioactive form of hydrogen. It is a byproduct of the nuclear fission process in a nuclear reactor, and occurs naturally in the environment at very low concentrations. Most tritium in the environment is in the form of tritiated water, which easily moves about in the atmosphere, bodies of water, and in soil and rock.
On January 7, 2010, the Health Department was notified by Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station that samples taken from a groundwater monitoring well on site at the plant contained tritium.
More Information on Tritium
Environmental Surveillance and Monitoring reports
Regular sampling is done around the power station to test for radioactive contamination. Samples are taken from:
- Surface water
- Connecticut River sediment
- Fish from the Connecticut River
Local farms also provide milk samples every month for testing to verify there are no radiological contaminants in the milk. Analysis of samples is done at the Health Department Laboratory.
The Health Department continuously measures the radiation dose around Vermont Yankee, both at the site boundary as well as locations throughout Windham County.
Environmental surveillance has been in effect since before Vermont Yankee began commercial operation in 1973. The Health Department publishes an annual report of its surveillance findings—see reports in the table below.
In 2005, there was an investigation into whether the State’s radiation limit at the Vermont Yankee site boundary had been exceeded. A third party was brought in to conduct the investigation, and found Vermont Yankee had not gone over the site boundary radiation dose limit.
The Health Department partners with the following state agencies and departments to help ensure Vermonters are provided adequate warning and emergency response in the event of a radiological release at Vermont Yankee:
Health Department staff train emergency responders throughout the state in the essential skills required in emergency events, and to staff critical positions in local and state emergency operations centers.
In addition to meeting classroom and field training requirements, Health Department staff participate in annual drills to test their ability to use learned skills.
|Vermont Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security Radiological Emergency Response Plan (RERP)||Plan from the Vermont Radiological Emergency Response Program|
|Vermont Department of Public Safety||Emergency public information for Vermont Yankee|
|Vermont Department of Public Service Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel||The Vermont Department of Public Service represents the public interest in utilities such as power, water, and telecommunications|
|Windham Regional Commission (WRC)||The WRC reports to the Public Service Board on Vermont Yankee issues such as the license extension. The WRC also provides planning assistance to the towns in Windham County, including those in the Emergency Planning Zone.|
|Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency||Massachusetts oversees planning and training for towns in the Emergency Planning Zones of Vermont Yankee, Pilgrim Station in Plymouth, MA, and Seabrook Station in Seabrook, NH.|
|New Hampshire Homeland Security & Emergency Management||New Hampshire has five towns in the Vermont Yankee Emergency Planning Zone as well as 17 towns in the Emergency Planning Zone around Seabrook Station in Seabrook, NH.|
|Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)||
FEMA is the lead federal agency for response to a disaster. For radiological health, they oversee off-site response to the local and state responders.
|Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)||The NRC is responsible for monitoring all nuclear power plants in the U.S.. They also provide technical assistance and resources in an emergency.|