Radioactive, cancer-causing tritium leaks into California groundwater

Tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen that can cause cancer, miscarriages, and birth defects, has leaked from a nuclear power plant near San Clemente, Calif. Groundwater tested at up to 330,000 picocuries of tritium per liter; we don’t know what a picocurie is, but California’s public-health goal for tritium is 400 ppl — which could still cause one cancer per million people exposed. While drinking water appears to be unaffected, officials have shut down a well as a precaution. “We owe it to our residents and business folks to properly test the water,” said San Clemente’s public works director. (We would argue that the nuclear plant owes it to residents not to leak tritium into the water, but we’re picky like that.) Officials are piping the contaminated groundwater into the Pacific Ocean, which, when you think about it, really seems like the best place to put radioactive waste. Tritium leaks have been found at over a dozen nuclear plants across the nation in recent years.