The power plant in Minnesota, where 400,000 liters of radioactive water leaked in November 2022, experienced another incident on Wednesday and was temporarily shut down as a result.
Xcel Energy, which made headlines for announcing the first leak this month, discovered hundreds more gallons of tritium-containing water drained from its Monticello plant — some of which flowed into groundwater.
Although the company said “there is no danger to the public,” this is the second incident in less than a year to plague the factory.
The first disaster sparked outrage among Americans, who were dissatisfied with the company’s and regulators’ silence.
The Minnesota power plant, which leaked 400,000 gallons of radioactive water in November 2022, experienced another incident on Wednesday and has been temporarily shut down as a result
Chris Clark, president of Xcel Energy-Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, said in a rack regarding the recent leak: ‘While the leak continues to pose no risk to the public or the environment, we have decided that the best course of action is to shut down the plant and make permanent repairs immediately.
“We will continue to work with and inform our state, federal, city and county leaders throughout the process.
Unlike the November incident, Thursday’s incident was confirmed to have flowed into groundwater.
The water contained tritium, a rare and radioactive isotope of hydrogen with a half-life of about 12 years.
Tritium can enter the body by inhalation, ingestion or absorption through the skin and increases the risk of cancer if consumed in extremely high amounts, according to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC).
Minnesota health commissioner Dan Huff recounted it MPR news: ‘Although tritium is radioactive, it has a low energy, so it is not like plutonium. If you put it next to you in a glass, it wouldn’t hurt you.
“If you drank it, it would increase your exposure to radiation. And we want to limit exposure to radiation, because radiation can cause tissue damage.’
The Monticello factory is about 35 miles northwest of Minneapolis, upriver from the city on the Mississippi River.
The Monticello plant is about 35 miles northwest of Minneapolis, upriver from the city on the Mississippi River
The leaked water remains on site and has not been found in local drinking water, Xcel Energy said.
After the first leak was found in November, Xcel Energy created a short-term solution to capture water from a leaking pipe and return it to the plant for reuse.
The solution is designed to prevent new tritium from reaching groundwater until the installation of a replacement pipe during a regularly scheduled outage in mid-April, the company said.
However, monitoring equipment indicated on Wednesday that a small amount of new water from the original leak had reached the groundwater.
Operators found that the workaround was no longer capturing all of the leaking water over the past two days, Xcel Energy said.
Xcel Energy said in a statement that it reported the first leak to the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the state on Nov. 22.
Michael Rafferty, spokesman for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, said in a statement: “We knew there was tritium present in one monitoring well, but Xcel had not yet identified the source of the leak and its location.
The water from both leaks contained tritium, which increases the risk of cancer if consumed in extremely high amounts
Xcel Energy said there was no threat to public health at the time of the November leak, but some people do not believe the statement
“Now that we have all the information about where the leak originated, how much has been discharged into the groundwater and that contaminated groundwater has left its original location, we are sharing this information.”
Xcel Energy claims it has pumped up groundwater, stored and processed the contaminated water, which contains tritium levels below federal thresholds, since the leak occurred.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) said tritium releases do occur from time to time at nuclear power plants, but it has repeatedly found that they were either confined to plant grounds or were at such low external levels that they had no impact on public health or safety.
Xcel reported a small tritium leak at Monticello in 2009.