The Xcel Energy Monticello Nuclear plant is being closely monitored by the Minnesota Department of Health and other state agencies due to the leak of over 400,000 gallons of water containing radioactive water and chemicals into the ground at the site.
The water contained tritium, a byproduct of electric production at nuclear power plants, that came from a water pipe on site, according to Dave Peterlinz of KARE11.
The Monticello Nuclear Generating Plant is a nuclear power plant owned by Xcel Energy located in Monticello, Minnesota, along the Mississippi River.
According to the company, there’s no danger to the public.
“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,” Xcel Energy said.
“Ongoing monitoring from over two dozen on-site monitoring wells confirms that the leaked water is fully contained on-site and has not been detected beyond the facility or in any local drinking water,” the Xcel Energy statement said.
MORE: In case you’re curious, this is what Tritium is (Via @NRCgov): pic.twitter.com/aGmhmfaaja
— Dave Peterlinz (@DPet_KARE11News) March 16, 2023
The leak of tritium-tainted water was reported to state and federal officials by Xcel in late November, but it was not made public until Thursday. Officials from the state claimed they were waiting for further information before making the news public.
“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.
“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.
🚨#BREAKING: Over 400,000 gallons of radioactive water has leaked from a nuclear plant
📌#Monticello | #Minnesota⁰
The Minnesota Department of Health and other state agencies are currently monitoring the Xcel Energy Monticello Nuclear plant after over 400,000 gallons of water… https://t.co/8EnbMACez2 pic.twitter.com/ZCeyH37plz
— R A W S A L E R T S (@rawsalerts) March 17, 2023
When asked why Xcel Energy didn’t notify the public earlier, the company said: “We understand the importance of quickly informing the communities we serve if a situation poses an immediate threat to health and safety. In this case, there was no such threat.” The company said it focused on investigating the situation, containing the affected water and figuring out next steps.
The Monticello plant is about 35 miles (55 kilometers) northwest of Minneapolis, upstream from the city on the Mississippi River.
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.
“While this leak does not pose a risk to the public or the environment, we take this very seriously and are working to safely address the situation,” Chris Clark, president of Xcel Energy–Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, said in the statement. “We continue to gather and treat all potentially affected water while regularly monitoring nearby groundwater sources.”
Xcel Energy is considering building above-ground storage tanks to store the contaminated water it recovers, and is considering options for the treatment, reuse, or final disposal of the collected tritium and water. State regulators will review the options the company selects, the MPCA said.
The City of Monticello released the following statement:
“We understand the notifications today from Xcel Energy and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency will be particularly concerning to our community.
“The public water system operated by the City of Monticello has been unaffected by the leak at Xcel. The leak occurred outside of Monticello’s Wellhead Protection Area, the specific area surrounding our public water supply that contributes groundwater to municipal wells.
“We encourage members of the public to use the resources and contact information provided by Xcel Energy for questions about the leak and the plant. City leaders will continue to participate in the process on behalf of the community and share information as it becomes available.”