Xcel's Monticello ordered to install new vents

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Xcel Energy's Monticello facility is among the one-third of U.S. nuclear power plants ordered to install or modify vents that would reduce the risk of an explosive accident created by trapped hydrogen, the Star Tribune reports.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which monitors the industry, issued the order Thursday to owners of 31 nuclear plants, Bloomberg reported.

“Strengthened vents will help these plants continue to protect the public and the environment even if emergency systems can’t immediately stop an accident,” NRC Chairman Allison Macfarlane said in a statement. “By safely releasing built-up pressure and hydrogen, the plants will preserve the buildings that contain radioactive material.”

The order is aimed at assuring that plant workers can activate "hardened" vents during an accident, which did not happen at the Fukushima plant in Japan, site of a meltdown in 2011.

Xcel officials said the cost of the upgrades were not immediately known, MPR reports.

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