radioactive waste had leaked from a nuclear power plant in Monticello — but they didn’t announce anything about the leak until this week.The delay in notifying the public about the November leak raised questions about public safety and transparency, but industry experts said Friday there was never a public health threat.
They said Xcel Energy voluntarily notified state agencies and reported the leak of tritium to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission soon after it was confirmed and that the leak of 400,000 gallons (1.5 million liters) of radioactive water never reached a threshold that would have required public notification."This is something that we struggle with because there is such concern with anything that is nuclear," said Victoria Mitlyng, a spokesperson with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. "The concern is very, very understandable.
That is why I want to make extra clear the fact that the public in Minnesota, the people, the community near the plant, was not and is not in danger."State officials said that while they knew of the leak in November, they waited to get more information before making a public announcement."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," Minnesota Pollution Control Agency spokesperson Michael Rafferty said Thursday. "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."Tritium is a radioactive isotope of hydrogen that occurs naturally in the environment and is a common by-product of nuclear plant operations.