Public fears about nuclear power plants have usually centered on massive radiation releases into the air, but recent leaks of water contaminated with low-level radiation have raised a new concern: Local groundwater supplies could become a source of long-term radiation exposure with potential health risks. Are the leaks just a coincidence or signs of a trend? That’s what the Nuclear Regulatory Commission will weigh on Wednesday when it hears from petitioners demanding that the nuclear industry disclose all information it has on any such incidents. ‘We’ve accepted the petition … we agree that they’ve raised a legitimate issue,’ says NRC petition manager Bill Reckley. ‘We will consider what they suggested.’ The federal agency agreed to a meeting after a petition by 22 environmental groups last January cited leaks in the last decade at nuclear power sites in Braidwood and Dresden, Ill.; Lynchburg, Va.; Salem, N.J.; Haddam Neck, Conn.; and Indian Point and Long Island, N.Y. Since the petition was filed: # Two more plants – at Palo Verde, Ariz., and Byron, Ill. – have reported groundwater leaks. # Illinois has sued Exelon over the Braidwood spill, caused by a broken concrete pipe. # A new […]

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