A Nuclear Power Plant Just Leaked An Unbelievable Amount Of Radioactive Water

A nuclear power plant in Minnesota leaked 400,000 gallons of hazardous water.

By Sckylar Gibby-Brown | Updated

Nuclear Power Plant

When it comes to operating a nuclear power plant near a populated area, one of the worst things that could happen is having some of the radioactive waste leak out of the plant and into the surrounding environment. Even worse than leaking the contaminated water would be not telling the citizens that live near the plant what happened. Unfortunately, according to NPR, both of these things happened at a nuclear power plant in Monticello, Minnesota.

The nuclear power plant Xcel Energy in Monticello, Minnesota, recently announced that it accidentally leaked 400,000 gallons of radioactive water into the surrounding environment. Apparently, the leak actually happened in November 2022, but the power plant and local authorities are only alerting citizens of the leak now. Obviously, this has brought up some concern and even caused anger among members of the public who believed they should have been informed sooner, and not nearly four months after the fact.

While authorities are saying that the secrecy surrounding the leak was so that environmental officials could investigate the leak in peace, they argue that the public could have found out if they had checked the official bulletin posted on the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission website… Because the general public has a habit of checking the nuclear power plant bulletins so often.

Now that the investigation has concluded, authorities are letting the public know about the leak, announcing that the 400,000 gallons of contaminated water that leaked from the nuclear power plant was filled with tritium, which is a radioactive hydrogen molecule. Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) spokesman Michael Rafferty made a statement saying that while they knew about the presence of tritium in one monitoring wall, they wanted to figure out the source of the leak before going public with the information.

Luckily, even though the contaminated water from the nuclear power plant did infect the groundwater, the entire leak was contained to Xcel Energy-owned land, which means that there is no need for public health concerns. 

Overall, as far as radioactive contamination goes, tritium is very low-risk. According to the NRC, everyone is exposed to a small amount of tritium every day because it naturally occurs in the environment. Still, low risk or not, a nuclear power plant hiding the fact that it spilled 400,000 gallons of contaminated waste and then hiding it for months does not inspire a lot of trust from the plant or from the Minnesota officials who investigated the situation. 

Chris Clark (who is the president of Xcel Energy in Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota) made a public statement for Xcel Energy, referencing the seriousness of the situation and promising that the company will continue to monitor the groundwater for contamination. 

The news of the nuclear power plant leak comes only two months after a toxic train crash in Ohio contaminated the area with hazardous chemicals released during the collision. While similar to the power plant leak, officials claimed that residents of Ohio weren’t in danger from the carcinogenic chemicals leaked from the train cars, soon after the crash, people began to find thousands of fish dead from ingesting the toxic chemicals.