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CLINTON - Leaks of radioactive water found at three nuclear generating plants owned by Exelon Corp. in Illinois do not affect the Clinton Power Station, a utility spokesman said Thursday.

Elevated levels of water containing tritium - a radioactive isotope of hydrogen - were found this week at the Dresden Generating Station in Grundy County and the Byron Nuclear Station near Rockford. Three weeks ago a similar leak was found near the Braidwood plant, southwest of Chicago.

Water containing tritium is processed within the Clinton plant and is not released into Clinton Lake, said Bruce Paulsen, spokesman for the power station.

"The Clinton Power Station does not have a system that discharges radioactive liquid into the lake. We have been a zero-radiation discharge plant since 1992," he said.

The Clinton plant will undergo an assessment this year of its water systems, including pipes, pumps and valves that carry the radioactive water within the plant. Exelon has ordered checks of all of its 17 nuclear plants, including units at six Illinois sites, three in Pennsylvania and one in New Jersey.

Tritium is commonly found in groundwater, but levels of higher concentrations are detected in water used in nuclear plants.

Levels of tritium about 25 times higher than the safe drinking water limit set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency were found in a test well near the Dresden site, according to a company statement reported by The Associated Press.

"We realize that inadvertent releases are unacceptable and we are committed to eliminating them," Exelon Nuclear chief operating officer Charles Pardee said in a statement released Wednesday.

Company officials maintain the leaks pose no health or safety threat to nearby residents.

Long-term exposure to tritium - through bathing or drinking, for example - can lead to cancer and birth defects, studies indicate.


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