Minnesota Nuclear Power Plant Accidentally Leaks 400,000 Gallons of Radioactive Water

Authorities in Minnesota said on Thursday some 400,000 gallons of radioactive water from a nuclear plant in the state was accidentally leaked.

The state regulators said they are monitoring the situation and that the radioactive water has not reached Mississippi River or any drinking water sources.

Radioactive leak
Radioactive leak - Representational Wikimedia Commons

The leak happened at Xcel Energy's Monticello nuclear power plant. "Xcel Energy took swift action to contain the leak to the plant site, which poses no health and safety risk to the local community or the environment," the energy company said in a statement.

Reported in November

It has been reported that the leak was initially reported to state and federal authorities in late November 2022.

According to the Minnesota Department of Health, some 20 percent of the contamination has been managed by operating extraction wells that pump the tainted water.

"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 ... 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," said Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

Fukushima 1 Nuclear Power Plant
Representational Wikimedia commons

The Monticello plant is about 55 kilometers from Minneapolis, upstream from the city on the Mississippi River. "Ongoing monitoring from over two dozen on-site monitoring wells confirms that the leaked water is fully contained on-site and has not been detected beyond the facility or in any local drinking water," the energy company said.

What is Tritium?

Tritium leak is common at nuclear power plants, according to the company. The radioactive isotope of hydrogen is a common by-product of nuclear plant operations, the companies say. According to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, it emits a 'weak form of beta radiation that does not travel very far and cannot penetrate human skin'.

"This is a very localized leak, it is not migrated off-site, there has been no risk to public health or public safety ... Our number one action was to stop the leak and excel did that the number two action is make sure that Xcel reclaims the water and they're working on that," said Dan Huff, Assistant Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Health, according to CBS News.