• Xcel Energy says the leak does not pose a risk to the public or the environment
  • 400,000 gallons of water with tritium leaked from the facility in November
  • The company has shut down the plant to permanently resolve the issue

Hundreds of gallons of radioactive water leaked for the second time in months at Xcel Energy's nuclear plant in Minneapolis.

The plant's owner said the Monticello facility will be shut down for repairs and that there is no threat to the public or the environment.

The monitoring equipment at the plant detected a leak of what is believed to be hundreds of gallons worth of water containing tritium Wednesday, Xcel Energy said in a statement Thursday, reported AP News. The contaminated water has not yet reached the Mississippi River running beside the facility, officials said.

The leak happened due to a temporary fix that was done after an initial leak found in November. The plant found that 400,000 gallons (1.5 million liters) of water with tritium had leaked at the site at the time. State officials were immediately informed about the leakage, but the public was not notified until last week, raising questions about transparency and safety.

The plant's owner said the facility would shut down to ensure a permanent fix to the problem.

"While the leak continues to pose no risk to the public or the environment, we determined the best course of action is to power down the plant and perform the permanent repairs immediately," said Chris Clark, president of Xcel Energy–Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. "We are continuing to work with and inform our state, federal, city and county leaders in the process."

The initial leak reportedly occurred in a water pipe between two buildings at the facility. As a short-term fix, water from the leaking pipe was rerouted back to the plant so that it could be reused and also to prevent new tritium from contaminating the groundwater.

The company said it was a temporary solution until they replaced the leaking pipe during a regularly scheduled outage in mid-April. But this week, operators found that the temporary solution was no longer capturing all of the leaking water, and some of it had reached the groundwater.

"The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and Minnesota Department of Health are encouraged that Xcel Energy is taking immediate action to address the recurring issue of water containing tritium leaking from the Monticello Nuclear Generating Plant," Minnesota Pollution Control Agency said in a statement shared by CBS News.

"In the State Duty Office report filed today, Xcel Energy states that the new leak, located near the spot of the previously reported release, is still ongoing ... State agencies have no evidence at this point to indicate a current or imminent risk to the public and will continue to monitor groundwater samples. Should an imminent risk arise, we will inform the public promptly," the statement read.

Valerie Myers, a health physicist with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said the amount of tritium found in the leaked water is negligible.

"If we look at the dose impact of something like this, it would be a fraction of a milligram. I'm talking 0.00-something milligrams. The average person will get 300 milligram in a year just from the sun, the ground, everything," Myers told CBS Minnesota on Wednesday.

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