Radioactive uranium has leaked through the floor at the Westinghouse fuel factory on Bluff Road, contaminating the soil in an area of Richland County with a nearly 35-year history of groundwater pollution from the plant. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission says the uranium seeped through a 3-inch hole in a concrete floor. The hole extends 6 feet into the ground. The NRC learned of the leak July 12, but officials say they have no reason to believe the uranium has trickled off the site or that public water supplies are threatened. Well, we will have to wait on the results of recent groundwater tests on the Westinghouse property to be sure of that!

uranium leak Westinghouse nuclear fuel factory NC, Radioactive uranium has leaked through a three-inch hole in the floor at a nuclear fuel factory in South Carolina, radioactive leak north carolina
Uranium leaks at Westinghouse nuclear fuel factory in South Carolina. Picture by High Flyer

Those test results will show whether pollution in the soil washed into the area’s shallow groundwater, which seeps into creeks in the Congaree River flood plain.

NRC records show uranium pollution reached 4,000 parts per million in the soil beneath the plant. Those levels are 1,300 times higher than the amount of uranium typically found in soil, records show. Soil usually contains about three parts per million of uranium, according to the Health Physics Society, a radiation safety organization.

Tom Clements, an anti-nuclear activist who tracks issues at the Westinghouse plant, said government agencies need to explain how long the contamination went on and how much radiation has been released. The Westinghouse plant is several miles from Congaree National Park, a vast floodplain wetland renowned for its sparkling water and tall trees.

It’s a pretty big concern if you have an unknown quantity of material containing uranium leaching into the groundwater,’’ Clements said.

Elevated levels of uranium in drinking water can increase a person’s risk of kidney damage, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Over a lifetime, exposure to uranium also can increase a person’s risk of cancer, the agency says.

Roger Hannah, a spokesman for the NRC in Atlanta, said it does not appear the uranium has spread off the site, calling the contamination “very localized.’’ But he said the agency is investigating to learn more about what happened.

The recent uranium leak is the latest in a series of troubles at the plant

Two years ago, Westinghouse had to shut down part of the plant after uranium built up in an air-pollution device. In 2017, a toxic solution sprayed a worker, forcing him to take decontamination measures. This year, the NRC cited Westinghouse for failing to ensure proper procedures were in place to limit a burst of radiation from occurring.

The company has pledged to do better, bringing in new management.

Westinghouse, which employs about 1,000 workers at the facility, also has had troubles with groundwater pollution at the site for three decades.

High levels of nitrate have been found in groundwater beneath the site since at least 1984, according to DHEC records. Those elevated levels prompted cleanup efforts, but nitrate remains in groundwater. Nitrate is particularly dangerous to infants who drink formula contaminated with the pollutant.

DHEC spokesman Tommy Crosby said the state agency is not concerned the pollution is a threat to public health. The agency said there are no public water supply wells within 2 miles of the Westinghouse plant and no private homes downstream from the plant.

Based on existing information, there is no threat to the public from this recent release or from historical groundwater contamination at this secured site as there is no exposure risk to the general public,’’ Crosby said in an email this week.

NRC records show the leak occurred in a section of the plant that contains a hydrofluoric acid spiking station. The company found a hole in the floor while making repairs to a liner, according to the NRC. It then notified regulators of a possible “unauthorized discharge into waters of the state which may cause or contribute’’ to a violation of water-quality standards, NRC records show.

Westinghouse spokeswoman Sarah Cassella said the company has covered the hole in the floor with a metal plate and shut down chemical-processing equipment in the area. The company won’t begin using the station where the leak occurred until repairs are completed.

Additional actions may also be completed once the investigation is complete,’’ Cassella said in an email to The State.

Westinghouse operates one of only a handful of nuclear-fuel factories in the United States. The company makes uranium-based fuel assemblies that are used to fire commercial nuclear reactors. The Westinghouse facility is up for a new federal operating license, but no decision has been made.

The following video shows how uranium becomes nuclear fuel:

Separately, the company was the chief contractor on the failed $9 billion V.C. Summer nuclear plant expansion, northwest of Columbia, that was abandoned last summer.

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The State – Radioactive pollution leaked through floor of SC nuclear fuel plant

5 COMMENTS

  1. Nuclear Energy including atomic bombs represent Reptilian Hegemony. Reptilian blood is copper base instead of iron base like us. Because of the copper base blood which can eliminate contaminants quickly from body, they can handle contamination and pollution with radiation. Reptilians love to have a little bit radiation in the air and water. Their environment on their home planets like Draco Star System or Orion are quite contaminated with radiation, and they love it! They don’t like too clean air nor clean water. They want make the Earth environment more like their environment on their planets so that they feel more comfortable to stay on the Earth.

    What they did to the Fukushima Nuclear Plant in Japan is more obvious. They exploded Fukushima Nuclear Plant so that radiation will spread the whole Earth, and many humans with iron based blood would die. Like this, they can get rid of many humans, and they can dominate the Earth. That is the true purpose that they keep making nuclear plants all over the world. They tell you the lie “Nuclear Energy is clean!” Believe or not, most of brain washed humans can believe this lie.

    Reptilian Fukushima Governor Nuked! Snake Tongue!!
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YBF6N4XUNEI

  2. Is it South Carolina or North Carolina??? Maybe you fucks should get your locations correct before publishing. You call out a South Carolina facility then at then end of the intro you introduce a video, calling out a North Carolina facility. Have you heard of Google Maps? Wish I could post the screenshot. “Uranium leaks at Westinghouse nuclear fuel facility in North Carolina.” These facilities have protection beyond 6 feet. If you were a real journalist you would have done research. Stop trying to panic the public and push your agenda. I’m sure this post will never make it public???

  3. 2007-2017 while working on MOX Project at Savannah River Nuclear Site, my previous degreed technical electronics hands-on work experience coming into this project goes back to 1972, was initially recognized with bonuses, promotions and pay-grade increases. When they had elevated me to where I was writing and processing test procedures on the final equipment that mixes weapon grade Plutonium into various formulas with other depleted products from scrapped fuel rods, I found where incentive-paid cost-reductions violated Nuclear Regulatory Commission defense-in-depth as well as International Atomic Energy Administration safety regulations.
    Elevating safety concerns per Department of Energy Policy P420.1 is to be encouraged without fear of retaliation. After pointing out that my employer Areva was violating DOE MOX Project contract agreements to implement ALL DNFSB (Defense Nuclear Facility Safety Board) safety recommendations, I was put on administrative leave without pay for a psych-evaluation.
    It’s just this simple, I raised legitimate safety concerns as MOX Project management removed mandatory redundant sensors, deleted alarms and warning that put operators at elevated risk of being contaminated. Areva is completely ignoring the DNFSB safety suggestions which they are under contract to implement, which would eliminate the risk of “red oil explosion events”. Areva doesn’t even mention “red oil” in their Failure Mode and Effect Analysis documentation. They have procedures on how to respond to a meteor hitting MOX Project at Savannah River Nuclear Site. There has NEVER been an incident of a meteor hitting any project or even hitting any nuclear site – ever – anywhere on earth. There have been 5 red oil explosions in the history of nuclear projects at nuclear sites. 2 (TWO) of these red oil explosion events actually happened at the Savannah River Site! But these morons at Savannah River Site are clueless about red oil, even though DNFSB provided Technical Tech-33 as well as a study from Argonne National Labs to help implement the safest systems controls to completely mitigate any red oil even from ever possibly happening.
    If none of you want to react to safety concerns voiced during the design and build of any nuclear facility project, do NOT pretend to care later when you are swimming in nuclear waste. That’s just a little bit too late.
    The only question I would still have at this point is, WHY AM I MORE CONCERNED ABOUT THE FUTURE HEALTH AND WELL BEING OR YOUR GRAND-CHILDREN …than YOU are?

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