Residents living nearby a Minnesota The nuclear power plant has questioned why public officials had to wait nearly four months to be told of the massive leak of radioactive water from the facility.
About 400,000 gallons of water containing tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen, leaked from Xcel Energy’s Monticello nuclear power plant in late November, officials confirmed publicly for the first time Thursday.
The Xcel Energy plant is located along the Mississippi River about 35 miles from Minneapolis. The nearest neighborhood is about a mile from the plant.
“It happened in November? It would have been nice to know because we live next door to the power plant,” Daniel Furey, a Monticello resident, told a local news station. KSTP. “People should know what is going on. If we don’t know anything about it, we can’t say anything. We don’t know anything about it.”
Other residents vented their frustration at being kept in the dark The City of Monticello’s official Facebook page After sharing Xcel Energy’s press release about the incident.
“This is the first I’ve heard of it. I live very close to the plant. They came to check our wells,” wrote Sally Bertheum.
“This issue should have been reported back in November when it happened,” added Shari Sharp Oravetz.
independent The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Minnesota Department of Health and Excel Energy were reached for comment.
The energy company said in a press release that the spilled water was fully contained to the site. It has not been found outside the facility or in any local drinking water, and poses no health and safety risks to local communities or the environment, the statement added.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the State of Minnesota were notified by Xcel Energy on November 22, the same day the leak’s presence was confirmed. The water pipe between the two buildings has leaked. So far, 25 percent of the extracted tritium has been recovered.
The company said tritium levels in the water are below NRC safety thresholds and state agencies are monitoring Xcel Energy’s remediation work.
“We also live and work in the community, and the safety of our hundreds of Monticello employees and the surrounding area is a top priority,” said Theo Keith, an Excel Energy representative. independent in an email.
“We understand the importance of immediately informing the communities we serve if there is a health and safety threat. In this case, there was no such threat.
“Now that we’ve thoroughly investigated the issue, contained the leak, and mapped the way forward, we’re at a point where we can share with the public not only what’s already been done, but what we’re going to do next. Allowing us to provide the most accurate and complete understanding of the situation.”
Tritium is a radioactive isotope of hydrogen that occurs naturally in the environment and is a common byproduct of nuclear reactor operations.
It emits a weak form of beta radiation that cannot travel very far and penetrate human skin, according to the NRC. A person who drinks water from a split will only receive a lower dose, the NRC says.
State officials said they were waiting to get more information about the leak before making it public.
“We knew there was a presence of tritium in one of the monitoring wells, but Xcel has not yet identified the source of the leak and its location,” Michael Rafferty, a spokesman for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, told The Associated Press.
“Now we have all the information about where the leak occurred, how much was released into the ground water and the contaminated ground water moved beyond the original location, we are sharing this information,” he added.
Mr. Keith also said independent There have been no other leaks of contaminated water at the Monticello nuclear plant or the company’s other nuclear facility, Prairie Island, in the past 12 months.
“Most operating nuclear plants have had some level of tritium leakage at some point during their operation. In the late 2000s, Monticello experienced a smaller tritium release and we worked with state agencies to address it.
“That leak came from a sump rather than a pipe like the recent one, and we took action to reline all of our sumps following that leak,” the statement added.
With reporting from the Associated Press