What's in the groundwater in Barnwell?

A report published by the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control shows that radioactive tritium is leaking from nuclear waste into the water supply in Aiken and Barnwell Counties, but the report remains that the levels are so low, it's safe.

Nuclear waste has been moving through Barnwell County's water supply. It's spreading tritium - a radioactive form of Hydrogen from nuclear waste, which can cause cancer and birth defects, if you come in contact with too much of it.

The report shows that this plume is moving off the Barnwell Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Facility, in Barnwell and traveling in the groundwater southwest toward the Savannah River Site - causing some concerns about the safety of drinking water.

DHEC presented this information before the South Carolina Governor's Nuclear Advisory Council earlier this month and we decided to take a closer look.

The Chem-Nuclear site - which is 235 acres disposes radioactive waste produced in South Carolina, New Jersey, and Connecticut.

In the Chem-Nuclear Annual Update, we learned that 27 monitoring locations were tested for tritium.

10 of which showed no evidence of tritium data trending up of down; 6 locations showed an upward trend and 11 locations showed a downward trend over the most recent five-year period.

The report also remains that in the places in which the water does test positive for tritium, all levels are below the federal safety guidelines and water with the highest concentration is on a part of the site that is completely shut off to the public and doesn't flow into other water sources.

Tritium has a half life of twelve years, it takes ten half lives, or 120 years to be all gone.

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