"A panel of experts convened on Tuesday by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to discuss how the agency should approach tritium leaks at reactors suggested that the biggest risk that nuclear operators faced was the erosion of public trust.
'Tritium is one of the most benign of radioactive materials that I’ve worked with in my career, and I’ve worked with many of them,' said Dr. John E. Till, a veteran radiation expert who has led studies at several nuclear weapons sites to determine doses. 'I’m surprised to be here based on what we know about the science of this material.'
'But on the other hand, the perception of tritium as a potential risk in the environment to the public is huge; it is absolutely huge,' he said. He called it the industry’s biggest problem since the Three Mile Island accident in 1979.
An industry representative on the panel, Alex Marion, a vice president of the Nuclear Energy Institute, said, 'We’re facing a policy issue, and that issue is maintaining public trust and confidence.'"
Matthew L. Wald reports for Green Inc. in the New York Times April 20, 2010.