Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Energy and Environment Subcommittee, sent a letter to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission yesterday calling for better oversight of the country’s aging nuclear power infrastructure, citing a recent report in The Boston Globe that cites evidence of a radioactive tritium leak near a nuclear plant in Massachusetts.
Markey says the leak “appears to be just another in a long line of failures of buried piping systems at our nation’s nuclear plants,” accusing the NRC of neglecting to carry out “serious and comprehensive” inspections of the country’s nuclear piping systems.
The current inspection regimes for buried pipes — physical inspections conducted only in those rare instances when pipes are dug out for other purposes — is incapable of ensuring the integrity of decades-old piping systems.
According to an NRC fact sheet on tritium, “The health risks include increased occurrence of cancer and genetic abnormalities in future generations.”