Published: January 9, 2019

    Unsafe Levels of Uranium Detected in Water Near Leaking Nuclear Fuel Plant in South Carolina

    Water quality tests at two different sites near the Westinghouse nuclear fuel plant in South Carolina found levels of radioactive uranium that exceed safe drinking water standards. The contamination is the result of two different leaks at the plant that the Nuclear Regulatory commission only learned about last year, even though one leak occurred a decade ago.

    A community meeting was held in Lower Richland, South Carolina, last week in order to review Westinghouse’s application to operate their nuclear fuel plant for another 40 years. At the meeting the NRC revealed that two wells near the plant had tested positive for elevated, and dangerous, levels of uranium.

    The plant, which manufactures nuclear fuel rods used to run commercial atomic power plants across the country, is one of only three such facilities in the United States. Both NRC and Westinghouse determined that two leaks at the plant, one in 2008 and another in 2011, were responsible for the elevated levels of uranium in the water.

    What Is Uranium?

    Uranium is a naturally occurring element, most known for its use within nuclear power plants to generate electricity. Uranium was once the preferred method of generating electricity until the risks and dangers of nuclear power became widely known.

    Serious health risks are associated with consumption of or exposure to uranium. According to the Environmental Protection Agency long term kidney damage is the worst effect of chronic exposure to uranium. The Water Quality Association also claims that uranium exposure can significantly increase your risk of developing many forms of cancer.

    Private well owners that live near bedrock or granite are more likely to find uranium in their drinking water, but the risk of contamination varies depending on where you live. Residing near a nuclear fuel plant, for example, will increase the risk of anyone in your family experiencing the adverse health effects of uranium.

    Residents Take Control of Their Safety

    About 70 citizens attending the meeting held at a Garners Ferry Road conference center in order to express their concerns about the uranium contamination. The residents are concerned that the contamination of the groundwater could spread to affect their private wells and, thus, their drinking water.

    Many of the residents have formed a citizens group to monitor Westinghouse due to their distrust of the company. They are worried about leaks like the ones that caused this uranium contamination and larger scale events.

    “In the blink of an eye, an accident could potentially have a major detrimental impact on our community,’’ local resident Karen Irick noted. “You guys have gotten me afraid, really afraid. Every time I turn around, there is something going on over there.’

    Uranium is a less-common water contaminant, but uranium contamination can be deadly. If you live in an area near a nuclear plant don’t wait until it’s too late to safeguard your drinking water supply. For the best protection against the radioactive element install a 6-Stage Reverse Osmosis System today.

    Reverse osmosis water systems are designed to filter out harmful chemicals and contaminants to deliver pure, high-quality drinking water. Our 6-Stage Reverse Osmosis System exchanges harmful uranium for chloride ions to free your water of the dangerous element, no matter where you live.