Gasket leak causes nuclear plant shutdown Tuesday

Operators shut down Monticello Nuclear Generating Plant to repair a gasket on a pipe flange Tuesday, Aug. 14. While the exact length of the shutdown is unknown, it is expected to last at least a few days. Officials with Xcel Energy, which operates the plant, said there was never any health threat to the public or any workers at the plant.
The Monticello reactor had been operating at 10 percent power since the weekend, as workers investigated leakage to a collection point inside the plant’s steel and steel-reinforced concrete containment structure. All of the leakage was contained within the containment structure. The investigation identified a gasket on a pipe flange needed repairs, and the plant was shut down to complete the work.
Patrick Thompson, communications consultant for the plant, said that while the leak was not a major problem, it did occur in a difficult-to-access area, which is why the shutdown is needed to fix the problem. Thompson also said the plant will use the shutdown to accomplish other maintenance work that needs to get done.
“While we’re doing that, we have other projects [to work on] that will take three or four days,” said Thompson.
Thompson added that at no point was anyone inside or outside of the plant in any kind of danger.
Whenever a generating unit is in an outage, Xcel Energy purchases electricity from the Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator or other utilities or increases production at its other generating plants to ensure an adequate power supply for customers.
The plant will be restarted when repairs are completed.
Just by coincidence Xcel also had to shut down one unit at its Prairie Island nuclear power plant near Red Wing on Tuesday after a pair of diesel backup generators failed to operate. Xcel said there was no radiation leak or threat to the public.

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