In 2006, Xcel Energy sought and received an extension of its lease on the Monticello Nuclear Power Plant from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which was set to expire in 2010, allowing it to continue operation until 2030. This federal decision reflected the increased demand for electrical power in the region and was backdropped by the public opposition to the construction of new nuclear power plants. The sentiments were, it was clearly better to update an old plant rather than fight for the building of a new one.
As the information of the first tritium spill was reported in November, we now learn another spill has occurred, and many questions about the operation and safety arise. Since this is a federal jurisdiction, the initial response was delayed, but since public welfare is involved, the slow speed seems to be abating.
Since, the plant is located on the largest river in the United States and as we know, problems flow downstream, and many people can be affected. As we understand, and if the reports are true, the problem is segregated, and there is not any threat to the drinking water, but with the initial 400,000 gallons spilled and now more is a sizable amount.
Since tritium easily mixes with water and the EPA limits the amount of tritium present in drinking water to 20,000 picocuries per liter as a protection against radiation. 2009, a sampling of test wells found it found tritium levels at 21,300 picocuries per liter.
This issue is quite concerning.