Fayetteville City Council on Wednesday approved dumping wastewater from the site of a former nuclear reactor into the city’s sewer system. 

The water will eventually flow into Beaver Lake, our area’s main source for drinking water.

 One city council member thinks it’s a bad idea, but others claim it’s perfectly safe.

 “We are actually dumping our sewage, what’s left of it into our drinking what source,” said Fayetteville City Council member John La Tour.

The council voted four to two in favor of the decision to process 70,000 gallons of nuclear reactor wastewater in its public sewer system. La Tour voted against the measure.

“Apparently Beaver Lake is so big it doesn’t matter, but it just makes me uneasy to know we are putting our waste in our drinking water supply,” La Tour said.

Fayetteville’s Utility Director Tim Nyander said they’ve had the Arkansas Department of Health and the University of Arkansas test the waste water, and it’s slightly better than state regulations for drinking water.

 “If you actually tested ground water going into anybody’s basements you’d probably see the same levels of this hydrogen tritium that they are talking about, it’s very low almost non-detect, so I don’t think there’s any worry,” Nyander said.

So if the water is considered safe, what’s the problem?

 La Tour at his age of 61 said he’s realized experts aren’t always right, and questioned why the city would risk it when they could send the waste water to a hazardous waste facility in Little Rock.

Officials said it’s preferred to do it through a municipal water plant, rather than take up space at a hazardous waste facility, because they need to save room for actual hazardous waste.

La Tour said he admitted at the city council meeting that maybe the waste water is harmless, but if there is an alternative way of disposing of the wastewater, without putting it in our drinking water source, then why wouldn’t we do it, and not assume any risk.

The Fayetteville Utilities Department said they will probably be processing the nuclear reactor wastewater in the public sewer system by May 15th.