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Federal officials work to reassure residents near site of Monticello nuclear plant leak

Residents speak out after leak at Monticello nuclear facility
Residents speak out after leak at Monticello nuclear facility 02:03

MONTICELLO, Minn. -- Months after a leak at a nuclear facility, federal officials are on the ground trying to reassure families.

The public just found out about it last week. The Monticello nuclear plant leaked water contaminated with a radioactive chemical. Now crews are trying to stop it from getting into the Mississippi

On Wednesday, Monticello residents had a chance to make their voices heard as the nuclear plant near their homes tries to have its license renewed. Xcel Energy has applied for a 20-year renewal to operate the plant that would green light it until 2050.

The public hearing on the matter was scheduled well in advance of last week's disclosure that 400,000 gallons of radioactive water had leaked on the site back in November.

"When we heard of this occurrence, they contacted me knowing I'm the expert in the area of all things radiation protection," senior health physicist with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission Valerie Myers said.

Myers is part of the team monitoring the cleanup.

"There are wells between the ones that are showing elevated tritium, and the Mississippi that are not showing any elevated levels. We are watching that because the ground flow is toward the Mississippi," Myers said.

While that is not ideal of course, Myers says there's three times as much tritium in a hallway exit sign than in the water under the plant.

"If we look at the dose impact of something like this, it would be a fraction of a milligram. I'm talking 0.00-something milligrams. The average person will get 300 milligram in a year just from the sun, the ground, everything," Myers said.

So far, it seemed residents agree, with only one resident speaking at the meeting and also advising his neighbors to keep calm.

"I think we need cool heads to look at the issues that are facing us and proceed in the manner that needs to be taken to resolve the issues," William Fair said.

A cause for the leak has not been determined. Xcel Energy says it plans to extract the broken pipe next month in hopes of learning more. 

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