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New radioactive water leak prompts early shutdown of Min nuclear power plant

Xcel Energy will power the Monticello nuclear plant after more radioactive water comes out

Xcel Energy will power the Monticello nuclear plant after more radioactive water comes out


Xcel Energy will begin powering its nuclear plant in Monticello, Minn. After more radioactive water leaked out of the facility, weeks ahead of schedule, CBS Minnesota reports.

The company said it will close the facility starting Friday so crews can begin permanent repairs later 400,000 gallons of radioactive water Leaks occurred under the facility late last year.

On Wednesday, the plant’s monitoring equipment detected that more radioactive water, several hundred gallons, had leaked since crews made temporary repairs and said “a small amount from the original leak has reached the groundwater.” Officials say contaminated water containing the radioactive isotope tritium has not yet reached the Mississippi River, which flows next to the plant.

Xcel reported the initial leak to state officials in November 2022, but did not inform the public until last week.


Xcel Energy’s Monticello Nuclear Generating Plant

CBS Minnesota

State officials and the Federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission Protecting public notice delay choices For months, NRC officials have been saying it’s not certain because of its small scope.

Valerie Myers, a health physicist at the NRC, told CBS Minnesota last week that The amount of tritium in water is negligible.

“If we were to look at a dose effect of something like this, it would be a fraction of a milligram. I’m talking 0.00-some milligrams. An average person would get 300 milligrams a year just from the sun, the soil, everything,” Myers said.

Xcel says, “Tritium is a compound that occurs naturally in the environment and is typically produced in the operation of nuclear power plants. It emits low levels of radiation, similar to what humans consume and the food we all eat.”

Xcel said it would be easier for crews to “permanently resolve” once the plant is powered, which occurred in a water pipe between two buildings at the plant about 42 miles northwest of Minneapolis.

“To date, Excel Energy has recovered approximately 32% of the tritium released and will continue to recover over the next year. The schedule for resuming operations at the plant has yet to be determined,” the company said Thursday.

The company stresses that the leak poses no risk to neighbors or the environment and that the shutdown is not expected to affect electric service.

Xcel will hold two open hours on Friday and Monday at the Monticello Community Center to answer questions.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency released this statement on Thursday night’s shutdown:

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the Minnesota Department of Health are encouraged that Xcel Energy is taking immediate action to address the recurring issue of tritium-containing water from the Monticello Nuclear Generating Plant.

State agencies were made aware this afternoon of an additional water leak at the Monticello facility following earlier news about a 400,000 gallon water leak containing tritium. In a State Duty Office report filed today, Excel Energy said the new leak, located near the site of the previously reported release, is still ongoing.

State agencies have no evidence to indicate a current or imminent risk to the public at this time and will continue to monitor groundwater samples. In the event of an imminent risk, we will notify the public immediately.

We encourage the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), which has regulatory oversight of plant operations, to share ongoing public communications about the leak and mitigation efforts to help residents better understand the situation.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the Minnesota Department of Health will continue to review Xcel’s response to the groundwater contamination and oversee the reclamation, storage and disposal of affected groundwater. We will continue to coordinate with city, county and other local officials to keep the public informed of developments.”

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