City of Red Wing

Prairie Island Nuclear Generating Plant declares alert

Thursday, January 5 2012 12:00 AM

MINNEAPOLIS - Operators at Prairie Island Nuclear Generating Plant declared an alert at 3:53 a.m. today after workers discovered sodium hypochloride, commonly known as chlorine bleach, leaking from a tank in the screen house. The chemical is used to treat water that is brought into the plant for cooling.

There was no release of radioactive material associated with this event, and it poses no danger to
the public. No plant workers have been injured.

The sodium hypochloride leaked from a tank and is fully contained within a berm. An environmental crew is at the site to begin clean-up. The cause of the leak is being investigated.

An alert is the second lowest of four emergency classifications established by the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The purpose of an alert is to assure that emergency personnel are readily available to respond and to provide off-site authorities with current status information.

The Minnesota State Emergency Operations Center and Joint Information Center are being activated. Media representatives should report to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety media briefing room Town Square Building, 445 Minnesota Street, Suite 100, in downtown St. Paul, where Xcel Energy and government officials will provide information. The Joint Information Center will be the official source of information for the news media about the incident.

To keep telephone lines open for emergency communications, Xcel Energy asks the public not to call the plant site or Xcel Energy. The state of Minnesota is establishing a toll-free emergency number to respond to inquiries about the
incident. The number will be publicized as soon as it is operational.

The Prairie Island nuclear plant is 28 miles southeast of Minneapolis-St. Paul and about six miles northwest of Red Wing. The plant's two pressurized water reactors generate 1,076 megawatts of electricity, enough to power nearly 1 million homes. Both units continue to operate at full power.