Local News

Minor water leak reported at NC State's nuclear reactor

Posted July 7, 2011 1:07 p.m. EDT
Updated July 7, 2011 8:37 p.m. EDT

— North Carolina State University officials said Thursday that there is a low-level water leak in the liner that surrounds the campus nuclear reactor, but that it poses no danger to the public.

University spokesman Keith Nichols described the leak, discovered Saturday, as the size of a pinhead and that it was leaking about 10 gallons per hour from the 15,000-gallon tank.

“This is a research reactor and considerably smaller than a commercial power reactor,” said Gerry Wicks, the university’s reactor health physicist. “Its design significantly limits the possibility that, even under the worst circumstances, this facility presents any kind of danger."

Nichols said it would be considered a public threat if the reactor were leaking at 350 gallons per hour.

The university is in the process of repairing the leak and has notified the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, North Carolina Radiation Protection Division and North Carolina Division of Water Quality about it, Nichols said.

The reactor has been in operation at N.C. State since 1972 and is one of about 20 university-operated reactors in the country. It is in operation about 1,000 hours annually for nuclear research, the school said.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission inspected the reactor in February and found no significant issues.