Xcel Energy finds another radioactive chemical leak at Monticello plant, will temporarily power down facility

Another leak found at power plant
Another leak found at power plant(KARE 11)
Published: Mar. 23, 2023 at 10:52 PM CDT
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MONTICELLO, MINN. (KARE 11) - Xcel Energy will temporarily power down its Monticello nuclear plant, which leaked 400,000 gallons of a radioactive chemical late last year.

The energy provider said it had been capturing the tritium-laced water and rerouting it back into the plant for re-use, but on Wednesday detected a new leakage into the groundwater, which it anticipates to be hundreds of gallons.

The plan to reroute the water with tritium was meant to be temporary until the company could install a replacement for the broken pipe which caused the leak.

A new pipe was scheduled to be installed in mid-April. The company says the plant is scheduled for a refueling process this spring, which will include maintenance and construction projects.

“While the leak continues to pose no risk to the public or the environment, we determined the best course of action is to power down the plant and perform the permanent repairs immediately,” said Chris Clark, president of Xcel Energy–Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, in a statement.

Xcel says the leak is fully contained and has not been detected in any local drinking water.

The company has only recovered 32% of the tritium released and said it plans to continue recovery over the course of the next year.

Xcel doesn’t have a timetable for the resumption of operations at the plant but doesn’t anticipate any impact on its customer’s electric service.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency said the new leak is still ongoing in a release Thursday night.

“The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and Minnesota Department of Health are encouraged that Xcel Energy is taking immediate action to address the recurring issue of water containing tritium leaking from the Monticello Nuclear Generating Plant,” said the agency in a release.

The public is invited to attend an open house at the Monticello Community Center on Friday, March 24 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and on Monday, March 27. from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.