The operator of the Monticello nuclear power plant in the US state of Minnesota announced on Thursday that water containing radioactive tritium leaked from the facility last November, but that the contamination was mostly limited to the facility itself.
Company Xcel Energy did not explain why it waited more than three months to publicly acknowledge the incident.
The company said it notified state officials and the Federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Nov. 22 when it learned of the leak (NRC), reported the American media.
“While this leak does not pose a risk to the public or the environment, we are taking it very seriously and are working to resolve it safely situations,” announced the president of the company Chris Clark.
1.5 million tritiated water is said to have leaked
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency said about 1.5 million gallons of tritiated water leaked at the site, but it reportedly did not reach the Mississippi River or contaminate drinking water sources, according to the company. State officials are now actively reviewing data from the area and overseeing remediation efforts.
Tritium is a radioactive isotope of hydrogen that is a by-product of the production of electricity in nuclear power plants. It also occurs naturally in the environment.
Monticello lies 63 kilometers northwest of Minneapolis, where the company is also headquartered Xcel Energy, which discovered the spill during routine groundwater testing.
The water was then diverted to the facility’s treatment plant, but additional tanks are needed to store the pumped water until it can be cleaned and reused.
The United States experienced one major nuclear accident in its history. On March 28, 1979, a reactor meltdown occurred at Three Mile Island, Pennsylvania.
The USA has 92 nuclear reactors, which provide electricity for tens of millions of households. Smaller accidents have also occurred in the past years, but they were usually limited and had only local consequences.