Leak at SC nuclear plant polluted soil, but agency says groundwater OK via The State

Tests taken recently at a Bluff Road nuclear fuel factory found no signs that uranium contamination seeped from the soil into the shallow groundwater at the sprawling plant, state regulators said.

The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control said Wednesday night that test results “do not indicate any impact to groundwater from this release. At this time, there is no evidence that the release has made contact with groundwater.’’


DHEC’s Wednesday statement follows the revelation last week that high levels of uranium were found in the soil beneath a hole in the Westinghouse plant’s floor. Uranium levels were about 1,000 times higher than what is normally found in dirt — a finding that raised concerns about whether uranium had washed from the soil into the water table.

Investigators are trying to determine if acid ate through the concrete floor, allowing uranium to seep into the ground, Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesman Roger Hannah said.


The Westinghouse plant has a history of violations of nuclear safety operating practices, although plant officials say they are working to instill a new safety culture. Groundwater contamination beneath the site dates to the early 1980s and still is not fully cleaned up, The State reported last week.

Because of questions from Lower Richland residents and local politicians, DHEC and Westinghouse officials have scheduled a meeting for Aug. 13 in Hopkins to explain what they know about the leak. The meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. in the Hopkins Park Adult Action Center, 144 Hopkins Park Road, according to a news release Wednesday from Richland County Council.

State Sen. Darrell Jackson, D-Richland, said he hopes DHEC can provide full answers at the meeting. Jackson called for the meeting last week..

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