The owner of the plant Xcel Energy discovered the leak for the first time in November 2022, but state officials didn’t make the public aware of it until last week.
Protecting citizens and the environment is our top priority, and the MPCA is collaborating closely with other state agencies to oversee Xcel Energy’s monitoring data and cleanup efforts, according to a statement from Kirk Koudelka, assistant commissioner for land and strategic initiatives at the MPCA. We are trying to guarantee that the cleanup is finished completely with little to no harm to the drinking water supplies.
Tritium is a radioactive type of hydrogen, but the radiation it releases is comparable to that of everyday foods, according to a statement from Xcel Energy. Nonetheless, the Canadian government states that exposure to extremely high levels can raise the risk of cancer. It is a byproduct of nuclear energy and occurs naturally in the atmosphere, according to MPCA.
When groundwater testing produced unexpected results, Xcel Energy discovered the leak and traced it to a faulty pipe that connected two structures at its Monticello nuclear reactor. Before it could contaminate the Mississippi River or nearby drinking water sources, the leak was stopped. Almost 25% of the leak has already been repaired, according to Xcel, and more work will be done over the course of the following year.
We have made extensive steps to remedy this issue at the factory itself. We take this extremely seriously and are trying to safely handle the situation, even though this leak does not present a risk to the public or the environment. According to a statement on the business website, Chris Clark, President of Xcel Energy Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota.
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All possibly impacted water is still being collected and treated, and surrounding groundwater sources are being constantly checked. Throughout the cleanup process, we will still work closely with local regulators, state and federal agencies, and our local community in partnership with local groundwater experts.
On November 22 of last year, the firm informed the state, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), and the state of the leak. The MPCA informed The Associated Press that they delayed making it public until they received additional details.
Although Xcel had not yet determined the source of the leak and its location, we were aware that tritium was present in one monitoring well, according to MPCA spokesperson Michael Rafferty, who talked to the news agency. We are disclosing this information now that we are fully aware of the location of the leak, the amount that was released into the groundwater, and the fact that the contaminated groundwater has spread beyond the original site.
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The NRC stated that while tritium accidents occasionally happen at nuclear reactors, they typically either stay contained inside the plant’s boundaries or include amounts that are too small to endanger public health.
Environmental organizations have traditionally opposed nuclear energy, but climate experts are starting to support it as an alternative to fossil fuels. Early in March, the Biden administration proposed a $1.2 billion proposal to restart or extend the life of aging nuclear facilities. By 2050, Excel Energy will have provided all of its clients with carbon-free electricity.
Its plan to do this in the Upper Midwest includes a 10-year expansion of the Monticello nuclear plant’s lifespan to 2040. The plan was approved by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission in 2022.
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According to the company’s website, the approved plan will result in more than 80% of customers’ electricity being carbon-free by the end of the decade, with more than half coming from wind and solar. The components of this strategy all work together to meet the ambitious clean energy goals while safeguarding customer affordability and dependability.