Minnesota Nuclear Power Plant Shuts Down Due To Leak

A nuclear power plant in Minnesota was taken offline due to a new leak of radioactive material onsite. This is the second significant leak of radioactive material in four months.

The Monticello, Minnesota plant is operated by Xcel Energy along the Mississippi River. In November 2022, government agents found that radioactive substances contaminated at least 400,000 gallons of water with Tritium.

The plant remains closed due to the leak, and the operator is applying for an extension of the plant’s operating license. The plant was planned to shut down for a routine refueling in April and there has been no announcement of when the plant will be fully back online.

The most recent contamination came when workers on-site discovered that a container that was collecting the radioactive water spilled, leaking its contents.

Xcel company official Chris Clark said that “in the last couple of days, we realized that the catchment that was catching the water from that leak was no longer catching” all of it, he said. He added that “some of it was spilling over and back into the ground.”

The site is under current observations and the company said in a statement that the contaminated material “remains fully contained on-site and has not been detected beyond the facility or in any local drinking water.”

Investigators believe that the material was leaked from a pipe that connects two of the plant’s buildings.

The company has cleaned up almost a third of the radioactive material. Minnesota state officials believe that there is not a major risk to surrounding residents.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and Minnesota Department of Health said that there was not an ongoing risk to the public in a statement.

The state agencies said that they will “continue to review Xcel’s response to the groundwater contamination,” and will ensure “the recovery, storage and disposal of the impacted groundwater.”

The departments stated that they would also work with local officials “to make sure the public is kept informed of developments.”