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Operator makes public Minnesota nuke plant's Nov leak

China Daily | Updated: 2023-03-18 08:17

ST. PAUL, Minnesota — The operator of a nuclear facility in Minnesota said on Thursday the plant suffered a leak of water containing radioactive tritium in November, and state regulators said they are monitoring the cleanup of the leak of 400,000 gallons (1.5 million liters) of radioactive water.

Though Xcel Energy, operator of the nuclear plant northwest of Minneapolis, reported the leak in late November, the spill had not been made public before Thursday.

The company said it notified state officials and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission once it learned of the leak on Nov 22.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, or MPCA, said the company told the agency that some 400,000 gallons of water containing tritium leaked at the site.

State officials "are actively reviewing data" from the site and "overseeing remediation efforts," the agency said.

The company said it has "recovered about 25 percent of the tritium released and will continue recovery over the course of the year".

The leak originated in "a water pipe between two buildings" at the Monticello nuclear plant.

Tritium is a radioactive isotope of hydrogen that is a byproduct of the production of electricity at nuclear plants. It can also occur naturally in the environment.

Xcel said it detected the spill while doing routine groundwater testing.

Contaminated water

Xcel is considering building aboveground storage tanks to store the contaminated water it recovers and is considering options for the treatment, reuse or final disposal of the collected tritium and water. State regulators will review the options the company selects, the MPCA said.

The United States has suffered one major nuclear accident in its history — the meltdown of the Three Mile Island reactor in Pennsylvania on March 28, 1979.

Some 92 nuclear reactors provide power to tens of millions of US homes. Smaller accidents have occurred over the years.

Agencies via Xinhua

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