A Minnesota-based nuclear power plant has launched cleanup efforts after 400,000 gallons of radioactive water leaked from its facility.
According to CBS News, Xcel Energy officials announced the move on Thursday, nearly four months after the leak was detected during inspections at its Monticello location. The company says the tritium-tainted water came from a pipe that ran between two buildings at the power plant, which is located about 35 miles from Minneapolis.
Xcel claims the leak was stopped at the site, and failed to reach the Mississippi River. Officials say the leak “poses no health and safety risk to the local community or the environment,” as there is no evidence that nearby water wells were contaminated.
Xcel reported the incident to state and federal authorities on Nov. 22, but wanted to gather more information before telling the public.
“If at any point there had been concern for the public safety, we would of course immediately have provided more information,” Chris Clark, president of Xcel Energy-Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, told CBS Minnesota. “But we also wanted to make sure we fully understood what was going on before we started raising any concerns with the public around us.”
State agencies echoed Clark, saying its teams chose to gather additional details before informing the community.
“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.”
State agencies are now monitoring Xcel Energy’s cleanup operations, which have reportedly recovered about 25 percent of the tritium-containing water. The cleanup will continue throughout the year.
The Minnesota Department of Health says government officials and Xcel are working on a permanent solution to manage the contaminated water. The parties are considering building above-ground storage tanks.