Federal regulators visit Monticello, one week following news of nuclear reactor leak

Federal regulators doubled down on the public notification process, following a leak at the Monticello power plant in November.

Officials with the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission were in Monticello Wednesday, as part of the license renewal process for the 50-year-old power plant, and answered questions about why it took four months for news of the leak to become public.

"The NRC did not make public notifications about this because we were able to assess from day one that there was not a public safety concern," said Valerie Myers a senior health physicist with the NRC. "If you look at the tritium levels on site - even if all of it was released into the ground water - there would be no impact to safety."

According to Xcel Energy, the leak occurred in November when a cracked pipe likely led a bi-product of the nuclear reaction process called tritium to leak into the ground water. State regulators say they continue to monitor the water in and around the plant, and say the tritium remains contained to wells on site.

While Xcel Energy followed proper notification protocol, executives say they’ve heard from neighbors who would have liked to know of the leak sooner.

"The public is telling us they want more transparency so we’ll be more transparent going forward," said Chris Clark president of Xcel Energy Minnesota, North and South Dakota.

Xcel Energy recently applied to renew its reactor license, which is set to expire in 2030. The plant will be subject to an extensive safety and environmental review as part of the renewal process.