Apparently, the USS HOUSTON has something that is being reported as a “leak” that put water with “trace amounts” of radiation into the water.
The problem was discovered last month when a build-up of leaking water popped a covered valve and poured onto a sailor’s leg while the submarine was in dry dock.
An investigation found a valve was slowly dripping water from the sub’s nuclear power plant. The water had not been in direct contact with the nuclear reactor, Navy officials said.
Officials with knowledge of the incident could not quantify the amount of radiation leaked but insisted it was “negligible” and an “extremely low level.” The total amount leaked while the sub was in port in Guam, Japan and Hawaii was less than a half of a microcurie (0.0000005 curies), or less than what is found in a 50-pound bag of lawn and garden fertilizer, the officials said.
The sailor who was doused, a Houston crew member, tested negative for radiation from the water, according to Navy officials.
I find the CNN article to be sufficiently vague to really figure out what happened. Which is really the way it should be, as Naval Nuclear Power Information is tightly controlled. The Navy Times has few details to add.
The problem I have here is knowing what the backlash will be, especially in Japan. Getting the USS GEORGE WASHINGTON to be stationed in Japan is a big enough issue since their fire. Add on the details of another nuclear ship that had “been leaking while in port in Sasebo, Japan” and one can’t be surprised at all when the Japanese begin protesting loudly against US Nuclear vessels in their ports.
The only reason it bugs me is because I know that the amount of radiation leaked is truly as minor as the Navy says it is. They aren’t kidding folks, half of a microcurie is nothing. You will get more radiation than that from eating a bunch of bananas, or sitting on the beach on the equator.
But, as I always discussed with my JO’s, the average person does not understand nuclear power and needs only to hear the words “radioactive leak” and images of Chernobyl pop into their minds. It’s quite distressing, especially given the need to find a new energy source that doesn’t pollute the environment as bad as coal or gas.
Regardless, I’m sure the folks on HOUSTON are doing the right thing. After all, it can’t be any worse than this leak from a reactor IN JAPAN, that occurred a year ago.
Or, people could just go read this book to learn more.