A recent piece on the New York Time Green Blog, by Matthew L. Wald, explains the health science behind Tritium. “Tritium is a radioactive form of hydrogen that occurs naturally yet is also created in reactors. It is almost always incorporated into a water molecule like an ordinary hydrogen atom and is therefore impossible to filter out, and readily absorbed by the body. But it is also quickly excreted from the body, as ordinary water is, which limits the dose.”
So why do public concerns remain? As radiation expert, Dr. John E. Till noted during a recent Nuclear Regulatory Commission panel of experts meeting, “I’m surprised to be here based on what we know about the science of the material. But on the other hand, the perception of tritium as a potential rise in the environment to the public is huge; it is absolutely huge.”
For the nuclear energy industry, managing and removing the potential for threats is a way of life. Safety is the number one priority for the most regulated industry in the world with every aspect analyzed and measured to ensure the highest measure of quality.
But this high level of regulation is not the reason or motivation behind nuclear industry’s record as the safest energy industry in the United States. It has everything to do with trust.
Because of the inherent risk (sometimes incorrect assumptions about the effects of radiation) and potentially unseen dangers, everyone involved in the nuclear energy industry knows that trust of the community is an utmost priority. Providing 20 percent of the nation’s energy (and 72 percent of its carbon free energy) means nothing if there is a fear that the industry is not doing everything possible to operate safely.
That is why, in addition to further education on what tritium is and its potential effects on the environment, AREVA is reaching out to let you know that the industry is working to do more.
AREVA, for its part, has designed several tools to minimize the possible risk associated with tritium making its way into the environment. AREVA has developed and successfully employed a process that reinforces the layer of protection to the reactor liner in more than 40 plants worldwide. In addition, AREVA has improved its nuclear fuel design by integrating materials that reduce the potential production of tritium.
Because we know every effort must be taken to prevent potential risk.