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"The leaked water remains fully contained on-site and has not been detected beyond the facility or in any local drinking water," Xcel Energy vows.
Xcel Energy said that it would begin powering down its Monticello Nuclear Generating Plant on Friday "to allow it to more quickly perform the repairs needed to permanently resolve a leak of water containing tritium" at the facility.
Earlier this month, regulators revealed that about 400,000 gallons of radioactive water containing tritium had leaked from the Monticello nuclear power plant.
Tritium is a naturally occurring radioactive form of hydrogen that is produced in the atmosphere. It is a byproduct of the production of electricity by nuclear power plants.
Xcel Energy reported the leak to state and federal authorities in November 2022, but the incident was made public nearly four months later. The leak "poses no health and safety risk to the local community or the environment," the company said.
It implemented a short-term solution to capture water from the leaking pipe and reroute it back into the plant for re-use. However, monitoring equipment at the plant indicated "a small amount of new water from the original leak had reached the groundwater."
�� 400,000 Gallons of Radioactive Water Leak from Minnesota Nuclear Plant
A broken pipe at Xcel Energy's Monticello Nuclear Generating Plant leaked about 400,000 gallons of water containing radioactive tritium, and the utility is working to clean up the contaminated plume, state… pic.twitter.com/ElohWuSzuh
"The leakage -- anticipated to be in the hundreds of gallons, a much smaller amount of water than previously leaked -- will not materially increase the amount of tritium the company is working to recover and does not pose any risk to health or the environment," Xcel Energy said.
It added that "the leaked water remains fully contained on-site and has not been detected beyond the facility or in any local drinking water." The schedule for resuming operation at the plant is still to be determined.
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the Minnesota Department of Health said that they "have no evidence at this point to indicate a current or imminent risk to the public and will continue to monitor groundwater samples."
The agencies encourage the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which has regulatory oversight of the plant's operations, "to share ongoing public communications on the leak and on mitigation efforts to help residents best understand the situation."