Bleach Leak at Prairie Island Nuke

Friday, January 6, 2012 @ 04:01 PM gHale


All 500 gallons of chlorine bleach in a tank escaped at the Prairie Island nuclear plant in Red Wing, MN, prompting an emergency response from Xcel Energy and delaying classes in two school districts.

Workers found the leak of the sodium hypochlorite shortly after 3:50 a.m. Thursday and attributed the cause to a break in a 2-inch pipe connected to the tank, a utility spokeswoman said. No radioactive material released, no one suffered an injury, the public was not in danger and the facility’s power-generating operations ran without any issues, Xcel officials said.

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The utility said the bleach drained into a berm around the tank and by Thursday afternoon a crew cleaned up the site. Workers pumped the bleach out of the catch basin and put it into containers.

Crews were still wiping up the floor, but the area got the all safe sign, Xcel spokeswoman Patti Nystuen said. The bleach treats water brought into the plant for cooling.

The leak forced the utility to declare an alert, which is the second lowest of four emergency classifications established by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Xcel said the purpose of an alert is to assure that emergency personnel are readily available to respond and to provide off-site authorities with status information. The alert ended shortly after 2 p.m., Xcel said.

As a precaution, schools in the Prescott and Ellsworth districts in Wisconsin delayed the start of classes for two hours.



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