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Residents ask why they were kept secret about radiation leak from nuclear plant

People who live nearby Minnesota The nuclear power plant questions why officials waited nearly four months to inform them of the massive leak of radioactive water from the facility.

About 400,000 gallons of water containing tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen, leaked from Xcel Energy’s Monticello nuclear power plant in late November, officials first officially confirmed on Thursday.

The Excel Energy plant is located on the banks of the Mississippi River about 35 miles from Minneapolis. The closest area is about 1 mile from the factory.

“What happened in November? We live next door to the power plant, so I wish I’d known,” Monticello resident Daniel Frey told a local news station. KSTP“The public should know what’s going on. If you don’t know anything about it, you can’t say anything. We know nothing about it.”

Other residents expressed frustration at being kept in the dark. Official Facebook page of the City of Monticello After sharing an Excel Energy press release regarding the incident.

“This is the first time I have heard of this.

Shari Sharp-Olavets added, “We should have been informed about this issue in November when it happened.”

Independent We reached out to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Minnesota Department of Health and Excel Energy for comment.

The energy company said in a press release that the leaked water was fully contained on site. It has not been detected outside the facility or in local drinking water and does not pose a health and safety risk to the community or the environment, the release added.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the state of Minnesota were notified by Xcel Energy on November 22, the same day the leak was confirmed to exist. The leak originated from a water pipe running between the two buildings. So far, 25% of the released tritium has been recovered.

The company said the water contained tritium at levels below the NRC’s safety threshold, and state agencies are monitoring Xcel Energy’s remediation efforts.

“We also live and work in the community and the safety of the hundreds of Monticello employees and the surrounding community is our number one priority,” said Theo Keith, president of Excel Energy. Independent on mail.

“We understand the importance of promptly notifying the communities we serve if the situation poses an imminent threat to health and safety. There was no such threat in this case.

“Now that we’ve thoroughly investigated the issue, contained the leak, and charted a path forward, we’re in a place where we can share with the public not only what’s already been done, but what we’re planning to do next. This timing gives us the most accurate and complete understanding of the situation.”

Tritium is a radioactive isotope of hydrogen that occurs naturally in the environment and is a common byproduct of nuclear power plant operation.

According to the NRC, it emits a weak form of beta radiation that doesn’t travel very far and can’t penetrate human skin. According to the NRC, people who drank the spilled water would receive only low doses.

State officials said they were waiting to get more information about the leak before making it public.

Minnesota Pollution Control Agency spokesman Michael Rafferty told the Associated Press: “While we knew tritium was present in one of the watch wells, Excel did not identify the cause or location of the leak. He said.

“Now that we have all the information about where the leak occurred, how much was released into the groundwater, and how the contaminated groundwater moved beyond its original location, we are sharing this information,” he added. I got

Keith also said Independent Neither the Monticello Nuclear Power Plant nor the company’s other nuclear facility, Prairie Island, has had a leak of contaminated water in the past 12 months.

“Many operating nuclear power plants have had some degree of tritium leak at some point during operation. We worked with the agency to resolve it.

“That leak originated from the sump, not the pipes like this latest one, and we took steps to re-pipe all the sump following that leak,” the statement added.

In a report from the Associated Press

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