There was a spike in radioactive material in the groundwater beneath the Indian Point Power Plant in Buchanan, NY, and federal investigators are searching for the cause.

Officials first found the radioactive isotope tritium in groundwater under the power plant a decade ago.

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Since then, monitoring wells have shown a steady decline in the levels of contamination until April, when samples from two wells near Indian Point Unit Two saw a sudden spike.

After the reactor for Unit Two shut down for refueling, officials detected a spike.

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Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) officials said the prime suspect is a canal that floods to move used fuel from the reactor to a water-filled pool, where it cools off. A previous leak ended up blamed on a faulty weld in the metal lining of that canal.

Even though the levels of tritium under the plant went up earlier this year, the NRC and Entergy, which owns the plant, contend there is no immediate threat to the public. They said levels have dropped significantly since they found the spike, but the NRC wants to make sure the problem ends up fixed quickly.

The NRC is currently considering Entergy’s application for a 20-year renewal of its licenses for Indian Point Units Two and Three.

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