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Violation prompts more oversight at Xcel's Prairie Island nuclear plant

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Xcel Energy's Prairie Island nuclear power plant near Red Wing, Minn., will be getting more visits from the federal government after a violation involving a faulty radiation monitor.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission cited the plant for postponing repairs to a broken detector designed to warn of high-level radiation being released, which violates safety regulations, the Star Tribune reports. No release occurred during the 10 months the detector wasn't working.

As backup, there was a second sensor working that detects low-level radiation.

In an emailed statement to Minnesota Public Radio, Xcel Energy said that, "while the monitor was out of service, measures were in place to detect a radiation leak in this location, so there never was any danger to the public or plant workers."

Xcel has since repaired the detector and returned it to service, the Pioneer Press reports. The Minneapolis-based utility has changed procedures so that radiation monitors that need repairs will get fixed in a timely way.

Federal inspectors discovered the safety violation during an inspection in December, according to a news release.

"Even though the issue did not have an impact on the public, the NRC requires measures to be in place and maintained to ensure the health and safety of the public is protected during certain emergency events," NRC Midwest Regional Administrator Charles Casto said in a statement. “We have inspected the plant’s corrective actions and know there were alternative means to classify these events, but we will conduct additional inspections to ensure emergency equipment is in working condition.”

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