Tritium in the drinking water of millions of people

The association for the control of radioactivity in the West (ACRO) denounced Wednesday a radioactive “contamination” of the drinking water of 6.4 million people in France.

“6.4 million people are supplied with water contaminated with tritium” according to “data provided by the Ministry of Health”, says the laboratory based in Hérouville-Saint-Clair, in the agglomeration of Caen, in a statement.

“No value exceeds the quality criterion of 100 Bq / L (Becquerel per liter) established by the health authorities”, recognizes the association.

According to the Institute for Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN), technical arm of the Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN), “the public health code sets a quality reference of 100 Bq / L for tritium which does not represent not a health limit but a threshold which, when it is exceeded, leads to an additional investigation to characterize the radioactivity of the water “.

In addition, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends “a guide value of 10,000 Bq / L for tritium in drinking water, to be considered in the event of permanent water consumption”, according to IRSN. .

But “the regular presence in tap water of tritium discharged by nuclear power plants highlights a risk of contamination of other radioactive pollutants at much higher levels,” argues ACRO.

“A whistleblower”

“Tritium is + a whistleblower: in the event of a serious accident at one of the nuclear power plants on the Seine, the Vienne, or the Loire, there will not only be the tritium released and millions of people are involved. which risk being deprived of drinking water “, continues the laboratory.

The “exclusive map of the radioactive contamination of drinking water in metropolitan France” published by ACRO based on data from the ministry, “shows several areas with a regular presence of tritium in tap water” in particular along of the Seine, the Vienne and the Loire, “because of radioactive discharges” from nuclear power plants, according to the press release.

According to the association, 268 municipalities are concerned, including “large agglomerations” such as Orleans, Blois, Tours, Angers, Nantes, and 122 municipalities in Ile-de-France.

The only drinking water plant in Choisy-le-Roi (Val-de-Marne) “distributes each year” in its drinking water at 10 Bq / L on average, 1.3 TBq (térabecquerel) of tritium, or 2.5% discharges from the Nogent-sur-Seine nuclear power plant, “according to ACRO. This plant supplies 1.9 million inhabitants of 56 municipalities in the southern and western suburbs of Paris, adds the association.


Reacting to the ACRO press release, Criirad, another associative laboratory working on nuclear power, “denounced the trivialization of tritium contamination” and called “not to be fooled by comparisons with the quality reference of 100 Bq / L and, even more, with the so-called sanitary limit of 10,000 Bq / L “.

“The authorities accept, for radioactive pollutants, levels of carcinogenic risk more than 100 times higher than the maximum tolerated for chemical carcinogens!”, Affirms, in an email to AFP, the association based in Valence for whom “the limit for lasting contamination with tritium should not exceed 10 to 30 Bq / L “.

(with AFP)