Xcel Energy fined $14K for excess storage of radioactive water at Monticello plant without permit

Xcel Energy Monticello Nuclear Generating Plant (FOX 9)

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) fined Xcel Energy for exceeding storage tank capacity without a permit while cleaning up radioactive water that leaked at the Monticello Nuclear Generating Plant last year. 

A tritium leak occurred at the nuclear plant in November 2022, although the public wasn’t made aware until March 2023. Xcel Energy initially estimated 400,000 gallons of contaminated water leaked but announced Thursday it’s likely between 750,000 and 900,000 gallons of water leaked, and it may have started a few weeks earlier than initially thought.  

During the cleanup process, Xcel Energy installed temporary tanks to store the radioactive material. Once the tanks exceeded the 1 million gallon threshold, MPCA informed the company it would need a permit to use additional tanks. 

The energy company installed and filled 20 temporary tanks, but failed to get a permit prior to filling a new tank in April 2023, which pushed the capacity to just over 1.4 million gallons, according to the press release. 

As a result, the energy company is required to pay a $14,000 civil penalty. They were granted the necessary permit in May 2023, but Xcel Energy has since moved the contaminated water to an "in-ground lined pond" as the temporary tanks could no longer be used after Nov. 1, according to the MPCA.