(ORDO NEWS) — Another one leak of water containing tritium occurred at the Monticello nuclear power plant in Minnesota (US).
After a major radioactive water leak late last year, a power plant in Minnesota was temporarily shut down due to another incident involving a cleanup operation.
The company that manages the nuclear power plant, Xcel Energy, assures that the risk is low and the situation is under control.
The initial leak at the Monticello nuclear power plant occurred on November 22, 2022, although Xcel Energy did not notify the public until March 16, 2023.
It was reported that about 400,000 gallons of water containing tritium was released into the surrounding groundwater during the leak. This is about two thirds of the Olympic pool.
Following this incident, Xcel Energy developed a short-term solution to collect water from a leaking pipe and redirect it back to the plant for reuse. However, another problem arose last week.
On March 23, Xcel Energy announced that it would shut down the Monticello nuclear power plant after discovering a second leak of water containing tritium at the plant a day earlier.
“After investigation, operators found that the interim solution over the past two days no longer captured 100 percent of the water flowing out,” Xcel Energy said in a statement.
“The new leak, which is expected to be hundreds of gallons, much less water than the previous leak, will not significantly increase the amount of tritium the company is working to recover and does not pose any risk to health or the environment.”
The Monticello plant is located along the Mississippi River near the city of Monticello, about 55 kilometers northwest of Minneapolis.
The company claims that the incident does not pose a danger to local residents or the environment, and the leak has a low level of radiation.
Tritium is a rare radioactive isotope of hydrogen that has many uses in both industry and consumer products.
Gaseous tritium can luminesce when combined with a phosphor, so it is often used in emergency exit signs and glow-in-the-dark watch dials.
However, sometimes it is also formed as a by-product of the fission of uranium-235, plutonium-239 and uranium-23 that occurs in nuclear reactors.
This is the same radioactive isotope that was found in 1.3 million tons of sewage at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, where the disaster occurred in 2011.
The Japanese authorities plan to dump this water into the Pacific Ocean.
As far as radionuclides are concerned, this is not so worrisome, as it emits very weak beta particles that cannot even penetrate the skin, so it is not considered hazardous as a by-product of nuclear production.
Traces of tritium can be found in most drinking water. If tritium is swallowed, it will quickly dissipate throughout the body and be excreted in about a month.
However, health authorities place safe limits on the amount of tritium in drinking water, as this may pose some health risk.
Earlier, US experts made alarming conclusions about the state of the country’s nuclear power plants . The audit report showed that operating NPPs contain suspicious parts of unknown origin.
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