A pair of goldfish found swimming in a lemonade pitcher is no big deal, unless the fish were radioactive and their pitcher was discovered inside the restricted-access steam tunnel of the Perry Nuclear Generating Station (below) near Cleveland, Ohio.
The nuclear power plant, owned & operated by First Energy Nuclear Operating Corporation, bears the distinction of being the 100th power reactor to be licensed in the United States. Now it has another reason for being noteworthy... OK, two reasons, who we'll dub Blinky-1 and Blinky-2.
The goldfish were found earlier this week by a maintenance crew who were removing scaffolding used during the plant's recent 43-day-long maintenance shutdown. When the reactor is in operation, lines carrying superheated steam from the reactor building to the adjacent turbine building pass through the tunnel. As the steam is mildly radioactive, the tunnel is considered to be a “radiation area” and is off-limits to plant workers.
What has the Nuclear Regulatory Commission steamed, however, is the fact that the water the goldfish were swimming in was reactor water and therefore, both the water and the fish were mildly radioactive. That's not all, either. “This is not something that happens every day,” said Viktoria Mitlyng, NRC spokeswoman for the agency's Midwest region. “We want to know why it happened and how it happened. We are looking at the potential implications.”
In these troubled times, I think we all can guess what those implications might be. As it is, access to the Perry Nuclear Generating Station is strictly controlled with employees undergoing security checks designed to detect metal and bombs. Anyone trying to smuggle in a couple of goldfish in a plastic bag would (and obviously did) succeed – the same would go for the kinds of gel explosives currently on the TSA's radar screen.
On the other hand, plant officials reviewing security cameras and log books are confident they'll find who's responsible for the fishy situation. “Clearly somebody brought the two goldfish into the plant,” stated FirstEnergy Corp. spokesperson Jennifer Young in an interview with Cleveland.com. “They did not swim into the plant.”
They won't be swimming out, either. Sadly, the pair of goldfish expired on Thursday, May 2nd... not from the residual radioactivity in their bodies but from lack of care. (via Cleveland.com, FirstEnergy Corp., and tackyshack)