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Nuclear Power Plant Leaked 400,000 Gallons of Radioactive Water Near Mississippi River…Months Ago


A Minnesota nuclear power plant reportedly leaked 400,000 gallons of radioactive water last November, and the public is just now learning of the incident.

State regulators are monitoring the leak cleanup at Xcel Energy Monticello Nuclear Generating Plant.

While the company says there is no danger to the public, the leak is ominously close to the Mississippi River.

The Monticello plant is approximately 35 miles northwest of Minneapolis, Minnesota, upstream from the city along the Mississippi River.

“Xcel Energy took swift action to contain the leak to the plant site, which poses no health and safety risk to the local community or the environment,” the company said in a statement.

According to reports, the company notified federal and state authorities of the leak November 22nd.

However, the public wasn’t made aware of the radioactive leak until this week.

From CBS News:

State officials said they waited to get more information before going public with it.

“We knew there was a presence of tritium in one monitoring well, however Xcel had not yet identified the source of the leak and its location,” Minnesota Pollution Control Agency spokesman Michael Rafferty said.

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“Now that we have all the information about where the leak occurred, how much was released into groundwater, and that contaminated groundwater had moved beyond the original location, we are sharing this information,” he said, adding the water remains contained on Xcel’s property and poses no immediate public health risk.

The Minnesota Department of Health also stated on its website that the leak did not reach the Mississippi River.

“The groundwater beneath the facility, it’s been determined that it moves in the direction of the Mississippi River, slowly, but that’s the direction that it flows, or moves, underground,” Doug Wetzstein an industrial division director with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, told CBS Minnesota.

Tritium is a radioactive isotope of hydrogen that occurs naturally in the environment and is a common by-product of nuclear plant operations. It emits a weak form of beta radiation that does not travel very far and cannot penetrate human skin, according to the NRC. A person who drank water from a spill would get only a low dose, the NRC says.

The NRC says tritium spills happen from time to time at nuclear plants, but that it has repeatedly determined that they’ve either remained limited to the plant property or involved such low offsite levels that they didn’t affect public health or safety. Xcel reported a small tritium leak at Monticello in 2009.

Xcel said it has recovered about 25% of the spilled tritium so far, that recovery efforts will continue and that it will install a permanent solution this spring.


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