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Xcel, NRC to discuss potential nuclear plant issue

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission found a potential issue at the Prairie Island nuclear plant in the area of emergency preparedness.

Xcel and NRC officials will meet Feb. 25 at the NRC's region office in Illinois to discuss a preliminary finding stemming from a December inspection.

The finding was rated white on the NRC's scale, meaning it has low to moderate safety significance. The NRC labels issues at plants on a color scale based on their safety significance: "Green" is the lowest, followed by "white." Those posing more serious concerns can get a "yellow" or "red" rating.

The plant failed "to follow and maintain the effectiveness of the plant's emergency plan," the NRC reported. The NRC said the finding "did not represent an immediate safety concern."

Specifically, the issue involved a radiation detector on the plant's Unit 1 that was not working properly, according to the NRC's report.

"Throughout the time the radiation monitor was out of service, backup measures were in place and there was never any danger to the public or plant workers," an Xcel spokesman said Tuesday. "We take this matter very seriously and have taken steps to prevent a reoccurrence."

No decisions will be made at the Feb. 25 meeting. NRC officials will make a final determination on the finding later.