The owner of FitzPatrick nuclear plant has allowed highly radioactive waste to leak into a contained area of the facility for at least four years, a safety violation that poses no risk to the public but might make it more difficult to decontaminate the site after the reactor closes.
The problem was cited in the most recent quarterly inspection report by federal safety regulators.
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said the accumulation of spilled radioactive waste in the basement of a building at FitzPatrick is of "very low safety significance'' because it occurred in a locked, highly shielded area that is already highly radioactive.
"The bottom line is, we have been aware of this issue for some time, but it poses no immediate risks to any residents or the environment,'' said Neil Sheehan, speaking for the NRC.
Nevertheless, plant owner Entergy Corp.'s failure to address the leak is of "more than minor significance'' because the company knew about the problem for at least four years, the NRC reported.