Regulators are vigilantly monitoring the cleanup of a 400,000-gallon radioactive water leak in Minnesota, which has the potential to cause lasting environmental damage.
The incident occurred on the evening of July 4, when a tank at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Prairie Island nuclear power plant in Red Wing, Minnesota, began leaking radioactive water. The NRC immediately dispatched a specialized team to monitor the situation, and established a 3-mile perimeter around the plant to ensure the safety of residents and the environment.
The NRC has since reported that the leak is contained and that no radiation has reached the nearby Mississippi River. However, the commission is continuing to monitor the situation to ensure that the cleanup is effective and that the environmental impact is minimized.
The NRC has also launched an investigation into the cause of the leak and is currently looking into whether the tank was properly monitored and maintained.
The tank that leaked held a cooling agent called tritiated water, which is a byproduct of the fission process within nuclear power plants. The NRC has identified tritiated water as “low level” radioactive waste, meaning it can still cause environmental damage if it seeps into the soil or waterways.
The NRC is working with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to ensure that the contaminated soil is properly disposed of and that the area is monitored for any potential long-term environmental impacts.
The incident is the latest in a series of mishaps at the Prairie Island nuclear power plant, which has been in operation since 1973. The NRC is continuing to investigate the situation to ensure that similar incidents do not occur in the future.
In the interim, the NRC is working to contain the 400,000-gallon leak and to minimize the environmental impact of the incident. Regulators are utilizing stringent monitoring protocols to ensure that any contamination is mitigated and that the area is returned to its pre-accident state.