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Radioactive Water Spill from Fermi 2

Radioactive Water Spill from Fermi 2

The Fermi 2 reactor, operated by DTE. (Photo courtesy of Nuclear Regulatory Commission)

Host: Rebecca Williams
Show date: 12/07/2010

Everything’s back to normal at the Fermi 2 nuclear power plant in southeast Michigan after a spill last week.

A drain valve for a filtering system failed... and 100,000 gallons of slightly radioactive cooling water overflowed a holding tank. The water contaminated the shoes and outer clothing of some plant workers, but no one was harmed.

DTE Energy owns and operates Fermi 2. Guy Cerullo is with DTE. He says most of the water was contained inside the plant... but about 100 gallons of that water escaped through a bathroom drain into the Monroe County sewer system. He says some sewage outside the plant had trace amounts of radiation. But he says it was well below federal limits.

“There is absolutely no danger to the public or even to plant employees even who responded to the overflow. Absolutely no danger whatsoever.”

Cerullo says all of the drain valves have been replaced.

“We’re very confident that a larger amount could not escape from the site. There are all kinds of precautions in place.”

The Fermi plant had been shut down since late October for routine refueling and maintenance. The plant is back up and running now, at 60% power.

This incident at the Fermi 2 plant is considered so minor, it did not violate any federal safety laws or policies. But the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is aware of this event and NRC inspectors are following up on it.

Viktoria Mitlyng is with the NRC. DTE Energy says this release of radioactive water was tiny... and of absolutely no risk to human health. Are they right?

NRC's preliminary report on the Fermi 2 spill


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