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Aggregating Energy Since 2006

Accident at Monticello nuclear plant

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The Star Tribune reports that a minor accident occurred recently at Xcel's Monticello nuclear plant. Apparently a control box broke lose from its support beams and fell about a foot onto a pipe carrying radioactive steam. No leaks were detected in the pipe as a result. Interestingly, the plant had been running for a record 637 consecutive days without a shutdown. Most plants run for 12 to 18 months before being shutdown for routine maintenance and refueling. Xcel officials deny that this created a risk.  

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has notified managers at four other nuclear plants around the country of similar age and design to check for this problem.

George Crocker of the North American Water Office is quoted as saying market forces are pushing utilities to push their plants to the limit. That's an interesting question but I'm not cynical enough to buy it just yet. Utility officials must be wary of negative publicity as any small accident gets reported in the news - much more so than other industries that work with hazardous substances. It seems to me that they would avoid taking shortcuts that might jeopardize safety.