While all eyes are on the multitude of issues and events arising from the Vermont Yankee plant, the Fish, Wildlife and Water Resources committee will begin to look at the impacts on water: drinking water, ground water, and the surface waters of our rivers and streams. This week we heard testimony from Health Commissioner Wendy Davis who reported that no sampling external to the plant would cause her to conclude that there was an immediate health risk at this time. No drinking water either on site or off site has shown any signs of tritium, however not knowing the source of the leak was extremely concerning.
We also heard from Dr. William Irwin, Radiological Health Chief at the Department of Health, who was on site at Vermont Yankee. He reported that Normandeau Associates has been hired as an independent contractor to take water, sediment and fish samples. Samples will be split, with one set going to the Department of Health and the other going to Vermont Yankee. This week, DOH staff has been undergoing safety and security training. Next week, they will be on site to witness the taking of samples. This is not routinely done but is being implemented to insure the “chain of custody” throughout the process. The speed of this process will be determined by the pace and proximity of wells being drilled.
There are currently 30-32 existing wells (David – not sure what these wells are, but I think most of them don’t have anything to do with the current drilling) with an additional 15 scheduled for drilling. A short conversation in the cafeteria with Commissioner Johnson, revealed that the Department of Environmental Conservation will be reviewing drilling plans for new wells to make sure aquifers do not cross-contaminate other aquifers. The terrain of the land, soils and bedrock would not likely move any flow of groundwater west (toward the elementary school) but east toward the Connecticut River. Hydrological science would suggest that contamination must be getting to the river but there is no evidence of this yet. Given the shear volume of water in the river, the Commissioner indicated this may be very difficult to detect.
Our committee has requested detailed mapping information and will be tracking what happens in Vernon as it relates to water.