MONTICELLO, Minn. (FOX 9) – Xcel Energy is cleaning up a leak at the Monticello Nuclear Generating Plant after 400,000 gallons of water contaminated with radioactive tritium leaked from pipes at the plant. 

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) said on Thursday, March 16, the leak was reported in late November 2022 after Xcel Energy found unusual results while conducting routine groundwater testing. 

Xcel Energy reported about 400,000 gallons of water containing radioactive tritium leaked from a water pipe running between two buildings at its Monticello facility. The company said it is monitoring groundwater from two dozen wells. 

Tritium is a radioactive form of hydrogen and a byproduct of producing electricity at nuclear power plants, according to the MPCA.  “Our top priority is protecting residents and the environment, and the MPCA is working closely with other state agencies to oversee Xcel Energy’s monitoring data and cleanup activities,” said Kirk Koudelka, MPCA assistant commissioner for land and strategic initiatives. “We are working to ensure this cleanup is concluded as thoroughly as possible with minimal or no risk to drinking water supplies.”   

When the leak was detected the facility diverted water to an in-plant water treatment system to contain it and prevent additional water from leaving the plant. The MPCA added the leak has stopped, and the contaminated water has not reached the Mississippi River or contaminated drinking water sources.

“There is no evidence at this time to indicate a risk to any drinking water wells in the vicinity of the plant,” MPCA said in a press release on Thursday. 

Xcel Energy said it completed a thorough inspection of all piping at the plant and determined no other areas of the facility are of concern. It will also be looking at the pipe that leaked in the laboratory to determine why it happened, the company said in a press release.