Authorities Working To Clean Up Site After Nuclear Power Plant Loses 400,000 Gallons Of Radioactive Water

[Screenshot/YouTube/WCCO-CBS Minnesota]

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Officials are working to clean up radioactive waste after 400,000 gallons of water leaked from a Minnesota nuclear power plant.

The leak at Xcel Energy’s Monticello nuclear power plant was first detected in November and reported to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and state officials who refrained from going public with the announcement until March 16, CBS News reported.

“If at any point there had been concern for the public safety, we would of course, immediately have provided more information,” Chris Clark, president of Xcel Energy-Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, stated, according to the outlet. “But we also wanted to make sure we fully understood what was going on before we started raising any concerns with the public around us,” Clark continued.

Xcel Energy confirmed they notified officials Nov. 22, the day after the leak was first detected from a pipe between two buildings on the site. As officials continued to monitor the situation, the company began pumping groundwater while storing and processing the contaminated water, CBS News reported.

The contaminated water contains tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen that is a common by-product of nuclear power plants, but officials assure the contamination is “below federal thresholds,” according to the outlet. Although 400,000 gallons of radioactive water has spilled from the plant, the Minnesota Department of Health stated the waste did not reach the Mississippi River nor did it contaminate any sources of drinking water.

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

“Our top priority is protecting residents and the environment, and the [Minnesota Pollution Control Agency] (MPCA)  is working closely with other state agencies to oversee Xcel Energy’s monitoring data and cleanup activities,” Kirk Koudelka, MPCA assistant commissioner for land and strategic initiatives, told the outlet. (RELATED: Ohio Sues Norfolk Southern Over Toxic Train Derailment)

“We are working to ensure this cleanup is concluded as thoroughly as possible with minimal or no risk to drinking water supplies,” Koudelka added.

Xcel is planning to power down the plant in April in order to remove and make repairs to the faulty pipe, hoping they might get some answers at to why it began leaking.