Alert Lifted For Prairie Island Nuke Plant After Chem Spill

RED WING, Minn. (WCCO) — Danger was averted but Xcel Energy says a chemical spill put the Prairie Island Nuclear Plant on a level two alert Thursday.

Xcel representatives say a break in a 2-inch pipe caused a chlorine bleach leak. The chemical is used to clean river water needed to cool the plant.

Around 2 p.m., the plant lifted the alert, but not before several hours of concern.

It was just before 4 a.m. when workers noticed a pipe leaking sodium hypochloride — a chemical bleach that’s used to treat the plant’s river water. It was minor, but enough to activate emergency procedures.

“There was no release of this chemical to the river, the material was contained to within inside the berm and there were no injuries associated with this event,” said Dennis Koehl, Xcel chief nuclear officer.

Nuclear Regulatory rules required a low-level alert. That caused schools in nearby Ellsworth and Prescott to delay their start and sent parents scrambling.

“Well, concerned because we were not sure if the extent of the danger,” said Joe Valentine, of Prescott. “Obviously, when you hear a leak at the nuclear plant …”

The alert activated the state’s emergency operations center and a public hotline was set up to answer calls.

“So when they heard there was an alert at the plant some people were concerned for their safety, so those were the questions they were asking,” said Kris Eide, director of Homeland Security.

The announcement from St. Paul reassured residents near Red Wing that public safety was not at risk — no need for evacuations.

Xcel later released photos showing crews cleaning up the bleach, as investigators tried to determine what caused all the trouble.

“Again there was no radiological release or threat of release and health was not threatened by this event,” Koehl said.

While the state emergency management was obligated to issue the alert, it is the second lowest of four.

It’s required to make sure emergency personnel are available if needed. There were no injuries to any workers and the plant’s nuclear reactors and generators remained in operation.

More from Bill Hudson
  • Bleachy

    The odor was so intense, it could be smelled 40mi south, throughout my Pepin,WI home this morning at 4:30.

    • Hmmmmm

      We are in Prescott and when I left this morning I didnt smell a thing. Maybe the wind direction??

      • Bleachy

        Looks that way. Winds were due west when the leak occurred. We were probably on the southern end of whatever cloud occurred. No hair on the pillow…so no Silkwood today, I guess.

        • Bleachy

          er…out of the west at 7mph.

  • BPath

    Um…yikes. Anyone know if this has ever happened at Prairie Island before? Seems weird that ‘CCO isn’t ringing the alarm bell louder on this. If we had an update on the stadium debate, it would be breaking news! What gives?

    • jackactionhero

      The article clearly states no alerts have ever been issued for PI before.

  • I'm Concerned

    Any time something happens at a nuclear power plant they say there’s no radiation leak, everything is fine, move along.

    Nuclear energy is too dangerous and not worth it!

    If you’ve kept up with the news on Japan’s nuclear meltdowns, you would agree.

    I highly recommend

    No, this isn’t spam, it’s just an excellent site to really learn the truth about nuclear energy.

    • The Crux of the Buscuit

      ENENEWS is a good site, so is but most that visit WCCO don’t care, don’t want to know, will think it is ‘too scary’ and choose to ignore what is happening in Fukushima.

  • No Nuclear Waste

    And the Department of Energy is looking into storing all of the nuclear waste in MINNESOTA instead of YUCCA MOUNTAIN!!

    Say NO to nuclear waste in Minnesota!!

  • Mike

    People settle down I think this was a good training exersise for the community’s, Spills happen all over the world. Ya lets take the waste out of the country that will help the unemployment out!!!!!!!!!!

  • Dan

    It was such a warm day, I decided to hang my wash out to dry only to find when I took them down how white my whites were and how bright my brights were, Thank You PI next time you have a bleach leak let me know!!!

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