Low levels of tritium found in groundwater near Mississippi River, officials say no risk to public

The groundwater near the edge of the Mississippi River may contain low levels of tritium, according to monitoring systems near Xcel Energy’s Monticello Nuclear Generating Plant.

Although no tritium has been detected in the river water, officials said on Thursday that the groundwater about 30 feet from the river picked up 1,000 picocuries of tritium per liter. The Safe Drinking Water Act requires water levels to be below 20,000 picocuries of tritium per liter.

Xcel Energy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) said the low levels of tritium present no risk to the general public.

In March, Xcel Energy experienced a water leak at its Monticello plant. The company says they have pumped over 2.7 million gallons of groundwater for storage and reuse and has recovered over 75% of the tritium released in the March leak.

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In a news release, Chris Clark, President of Xcel Energy – Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, said, “Since the day we first confirmed a leak of tritiated water was present at the plant, we have worked around the clock to isolate and recover the affected groundwater. We take our responsibility for providing safe, reliable and clean energy to the community seriously, and will continue to work closely with state and federal regulators to ensure a thorough cleanup.”