IEER’s Science for Democratic Action article, “Radioactive Rivers and Rain: Routine Releases of Tritiated Water From Nuclear Power Plants,” by Annie Makhijani and Arjun Makhijani, briefly describes routine and non-routine releases of tritium to the air and water from nuclear power plants in the United States. The article contains two tables highlighting liquid releases from a small number of pressurized water nuclear reactors (PWRs) and the measurements made at sampling locations in the environment within about a twenty mile radius of certain plants.

The data presented in these tables was compiled by IEER from the radioactive effluent and environmental reports submitted by plant operators to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Links to the reports for each plant are on the Web at The reports are a very valuable resource for groups or individuals wanting information about the nuclear power plants in their neighborhoods. We encourage concerned members of the public to look carefully at the plants’ reports and familiarize themselves with the locations of the monitoring/sampling stations and the frequency of the sampling, measuring, and quality control issues.

In order to emphasize the importance of these publications and the data they contain, IEER took time in the past two years, using the latest information available when the research started, to create more comprehensive tables. These tables summarize the data on liquid releases containing tritiated water from every operating pressurized water reactor, for the year 2005, and gaseous releases containing tritiated water vapor from both pressurized water reactors (PWRs) and boiling water reactors (BWRs), for the year 2004.

The Web site, Find Operating Nuclear Power Reactors by Location or Name, at, has links to brief descriptions of each reactor, including whether it is a pressurized water reactor (PWR) or boiling water reactor (BWR).


Liquid releases in 2005

  • 2005 Liquid Effluent Releases of Tritium, in Curies, from Pressurized Water Reactors Operating in the U.S.
  • Frequency (in days) of planned batch liquid radioactive releases from operating U.S. pressurized water reactors, for the year 2005

Gaseous releases in 2004

  • 2004 Gaseous Tritium Releases from Pressurized Water Reactors (PWRs), in curies
  • 2004 Gaseous Tritium Releases from Boiling Water Reactors (BWRs), in curies
  • Summary of 2004 Gaseous Tritium Releases from Operating Reactors in U.S., in curies

Back to “Radioactive Rivers and Rain: Routine Releases of Tritiated Water From Nuclear Power Plants,” Science for Democratic Action v.16, no.1 (August 2009)

More information and resources about tritium