Low levels of radiation detected in Carolinas after reactor leak - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

Low levels of radiation detected in Carolinas after Japan nuclear leak

Robinson plant (Source: Nuclear Generation Group) Robinson plant (Source: Nuclear Generation Group)
Robinson plant (Source: Nuclear Generation Group) Robinson plant (Source: Nuclear Generation Group)
Air monitoring system (Source: Nuclear Generation Group) Air monitoring system (Source: Nuclear Generation Group)
Darlington County, SC -

By Alisha Laventure - bio | email

DARLINGTON COUNTY, SC(WMBF/WECT) - A low level of radiation has been detected in the United States after the nuclear leaks at the Fukushima plant in Japan, according to Progress Energy officials.

Progress Energy Spokesperson Drew Elliot said their testing facilities are detecting radioactive Iodine 131. The level is very small and is not enough to issue any kind of warning.  There is no threat to the health of the public, according to Elliot.

"I'm surprised that it reached us," Samuel Hunter said. He lives near the PE's Robinson plant just outside of Hartsville and wonders how dangerous the radiation could potentially be.

"If it's reached us and it's at a low level now, well how high is this level going to get?"

Progress Energy officials say weekly air tests are performed to detect radioactive substances. 

Experts say the iodine forms a vapor when released in the air that easily travels great distances by air. A specific isotope in the Iodine indicates that it comes from elsewhere, in this case Japan, and not from the plant that detected it outside of Hartsville.

The company tests for this specific type of Iodine around once a week.  The nuclear facility in Southport is scheduled to run its test on Tuesday.  Elliot says the small level of radiation is expected there as it is in other locations.

"People should be aware of it but not be afraid of it," DHEC official Thom Berry said. He explained the radiation levels being detected around in the country is no cause for concern or to change outside habits.

"These levels are just barely being found on the scale, and in the larger scheme of the radiation that we are bathed in everyday, this is really an inconsequential amount," Berry added.

Company leaders sent notice of this detection in an interoffice memo to workers late last week.

The text of the company memo follows:

Iodine 131 detected at Robinson and Crystal River 3

March 25, 2011

U.S. nuclear station air monitors, as well as other radiation monitoring stations across the country, have detected very low levels of Iodine 131 in the air as a result of the nuclear incident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan.

At Progress Energy, we have also detected very low levels at the Robinson and Crystal River Nuclear Plants. This is not unexpected given the sensitivity of our equipment in monitoring and detecting extremely low levels of radiation in the environment. We anticipate that we may see similar readings at Brunswick and Harris as well in the coming days.

Iodine 131 is one by-product of the fission process in commercial reactors and is also used in medical treatments. If released to the environment, it forms a vapor that can be transported great distances in the air.  The levels of Iodine 131 being detected are extremely low.

The Environmental Protections Agency (EPA) and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) are monitoring the levels being observed in the United States and report there are no health concerns for U.S. residents.

Although, the low-level detection by our monitors is not reportable to any offsite agency we will make a courtesy notification to our local and state officials.  We will continue to monitor and sample, as we always do, at each of our nuclear plants and will work closely with the EPA and the NRC to monitor the situation.

Copyright 2011 WMBF News. WECT Contributed to this story. All rights reserved.

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