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Minnesota nuclear plant unit shut down; operators investigate fire alarm

RED WING, Minn. -- The Prairie Island nuclear power plant in southeast Minnesota filed a notification of an “unusual event” after a fire alarm sounded at 4:06 a.m. today.

Operators had safely shut down one unit of the plant by 7:32 a.m. to investigate the alarm in the unit’s containment building.

There is no indication of an actual fire, according to Xcel Energy, which owns and operates the two-reactor power plant. Plant personnel needed to shut down Unit 2 before crews could enter the containment building to confirm there was no fire, officials said in a statement.

There was no release of radioactive materials to the environment as a result of this event, the company said.

A notification of unusual event is the lowest of four emergency classifications established by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The declaration indicates a potential reduction in the level of safety at the plant but no threat to public safety.

Xcel confirmed that there is no danger to the public or plant workers.

Unit 1 continues to operate at full power.

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