Nuclear power plant leaks 400,000 gallons of radioactive water

ST. PAUL, Minnesota — Minnesota regulators said Thursday they are monitoring the cleanup of a 400,000 gallon leak of radioactive water from Monticello from Xcel Energy nuclear plant, and the company said there was no danger to the public.

“Xcel Energy took prompt action to contain the leak to the plant site, which poses no risk to the health and safety of the local community or the environment,” the utility based in London said. Minneapolis in a statement.

While Xcel reported the tritium-containing water leak to state and federal authorities in late November, the spill had not been made public until Thursday. State officials said they waited for more information before making it public.

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

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

The company said it notified the Federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the state on November 22, the day after the leak was confirmed, which came from a pipe between two buildings. Since then, it has been pumping groundwater, storing and treating contaminated water, which contains tritium levels below federal thresholds.

“Continued monitoring of more than two dozen on-site monitoring wells confirms that the leaking water is entirely contained on-site and has not been detected beyond the facility or in local drinking water,” says the statement from Xcel Energy.

When asked why Xcel Energy did not notify the public sooner, the company said, “We understand the importance of quickly notifying the communities we serve if a situation poses an immediate threat to the health and Security. In this case, there was no such threat. The company said it was focused on investigating the situation, containing the affected water and determining next steps.

The Monticello plant is about 55 miles northwest of Minneapolis, upriver from the city on the Mississippi River.

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

NRC says tritium spills occur from time to time at nuclear power plants, but that he has repeatedly determined that they either remained limited to plant property or involved offsite levels so low that they did not affect health or public safety. Xcel reported a small tritium leak at Monticello in 2009.

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

“While this leak does not pose a risk to the public or the environment, we take this very seriously and are working to resolve the situation safely,” said Chris Clark, president of Xcel Energy – Minnesota, ND. and South Dakota, in the statement. “We continue to collect and treat all potentially affected water while regularly monitoring nearby groundwater sources.”

Xcel Energy is considering constructing aboveground storage tanks to store the contaminated water it collects and is considering options for the treatment, reuse or final disposal of collected tritium and water. State regulators will review the options the company chooses, the MPCA said.

Japan is is about to release a massive amount of treated radioactive waste water in the sea since the triple reactor meltdown 12 years ago at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The water contains tritium and other radioactive contaminants.

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