Monday, January 11, 2010
Tritium and Liars
I told myself I wouldn't use the L-word, Liar, to describe people who don't like nuclear energy. I hear it often enough from them, heaven knows. "Liar" is one of the first things said, under most circumstances.
For example, at the anti-VY walker potluck I attended, someone made an announcement that tritium (really, tritiated water) has been found by a test well near Vermont Yankee. Yankee dug those wells to look for tritium, since it has been a problem at other plants. As you can see from this newspaper article, Yankee found a very small amount of tritium. Bill Irwin is the head of the Vermont Public Health department radiological unit. A quote: "The level discovered in the well wouldn’t cause any appreciable dose if it were to be consumed, said Irwin."
The level discovered in the well is less than the EPA limit for drinking water. Vermont Yankee is getting busy looking for its source.
Now of course, at the potluck, I expected the Walkers to be jubilant about the discovery of tritium, and they were. More ammo for their side. However, what I didn't expect was the chorus of "So, they lied to us again! They lied to us about tritium. They said there couldn't be any tritium and look, they lied." The L-word was being thrown around fast and furiously.
Now, I think it is very unlikely that a company would drill test wells to detect something and simultaneously say there is no possibility that there is any of that substance for miles around. More likely, Vermont Yankee said that they felt it was very unlikely that they would find tritium. That wasn't a lie. They hadn't found any yet, for Pete's sake, in any of their wells. For decades.
Quick to accuse, do the walkers themselves tell lies? Between us, Howard Shaffer and I have been to three events of the anti-Vermont Yankee walkers.
1) A debate with a nuclear expert. The expert was actually a comic actor. This was never announced.
2) A potluck, supposedly including talks by experts about conservation in the home. No experts arrived and conservation was barely discussed.
3) A potluck with a "panel of experts" at Vermont Law School. My friend Howard was the only expert there. No other experts attended.
Okay. I'm not going to use the L-word about the walkers. But I'm thinking it.