Minnesota regulators mentioned Thursday they’re monitoring the cleanup of a leak of 400,000 gallons of radioactive water from Xcel Power’s Monticello nuclear energy plant, and the corporate mentioned there is no hazard to the general public. The leak was first detected in November of final yr.
“Xcel Power took swift motion to include the leak to the plant web site, which poses no well being and security danger to the area people or the atmosphere,” the Minneapolis-based utility mentioned in a press release.
Whereas Xcel reported the leak of water containing tritium to state and federal authorities in late November, the spill had not been made public earlier than Thursday.
“If at any level there had been concern for the general public security, we’d in fact, instantly have supplied extra info,” Chris Clark, president of Xcel Power-Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, informed CBS Minnesota on Thursday. “However we additionally wished to verify we totally understood what was occurring earlier than we began elevating any issues with the general public round us.”
State officers mentioned they waited to get extra info earlier than going public with it.
“We knew there was a presence of tritium in a single monitoring effectively, nonetheless Xcel had not but recognized the supply of the leak and its location,” Minnesota Air pollution Management Company spokesman Michael Rafferty mentioned.
“Now that we’ve all of the details about the place the leak occurred, how a lot was launched into groundwater, and that contaminated groundwater had moved past the unique location, we’re sharing this info,” he mentioned, including the water stays contained on Xcel’s property and poses no rapid public well being danger.
The Minnesota Division of Well being also stated on its web site that the leak didn’t attain the Mississippi River.
“The groundwater beneath the ability, it has been decided that it strikes within the course of the Mississippi River, slowly, however that is the course that it flows, or strikes, underground,” Doug Wetzstein an industrial division director with the Minnesota Air pollution Management Company, informed CBS Minnesota.
Tritium is a radioactive isotope of hydrogen that happens naturally within the atmosphere and is a typical by-product of nuclear plant operations. It emits a weak type of beta radiation that doesn’t journey very far and can’t penetrate human pores and skin, based on the NRC. An individual who drank water from a spill would get solely a low dose, the NRC says.
The NRC says tritium spills occur infrequently at nuclear crops, however that it has repeatedly decided that they’ve both remained restricted to the plant property or concerned such low offsite ranges that they did not have an effect on public well being or security. Xcel reported a small tritium leak at Monticello in 2009.
Xcel mentioned it has recovered about 25% of the spilled tritium to date, that restoration efforts will proceed and that it’ll set up a everlasting resolution this spring.
The corporate mentioned it notified the federal Nuclear Regulatory Fee and the state on Nov. 22, the day after it confirmed the leak, which got here from a pipe between two buildings. Since then, it has been pumping groundwater, storing and processing the contaminated water, which comprises tritium ranges beneath federal thresholds.
“Ongoing monitoring from over two dozen on-site monitoring wells confirms that the leaked water is totally contained on-site and has not been detected past the ability or in any native consuming water,” the Xcel Power assertion mentioned.
When requested why Xcel Power did not notify the general public earlier, the corporate mentioned: “We perceive the significance of shortly informing the communities we serve if a scenario poses an instantaneous menace to well being and security. On this case, there was no such menace.” The corporate mentioned it targeted on investigating the scenario, containing the affected water and determining subsequent steps.
The Monticello plant is about 35 miles northwest of Minneapolis, upstream from town on the Mississippi River.
Xcel Power is contemplating constructing above-ground storage tanks to retailer the contaminated water it recovers, and is contemplating choices for the remedy, reuse, or last disposal of the collected tritium and water. State regulators will assessment the choices the corporate selects, the MPCA mentioned.
Japan is getting ready to launch a large quantity of handled radioactive wastewater into the ocean from the the triple reactor meltdowns 12 years in the past on the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear energy plant. The water comprises tritium and different radioactive contaminants.