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Nuclear reactor comes back online

Several sources confirm that Unit 2 at the Prairie Island nuclear power plant on the Wisconsin-Minnesota border near Red Wing, came back online Wednesday, May 11, after it went into automatic shutdown mode early the morning of Monday, May 9.

After investigation, officials believe a thunderstorm caused a disturbance on the grid and affected the plant's protective relaying, according to Mary Sandok, Xcel's nuclear communications manager. All reports indicate that the shutdown happened safely and as expected; nobody was hurt.

"Walk-downs in the plant revealed that there was no damage to plant equipment or systems and start-up activities could safely commence. Operators will gradually increase power until the unit is at full power," said Sandok.

She confirmed that there were no injuries and no release of radioactive material. Xcel Energy operates the plant, which has two 550-megawatt reactors licensed in 1974.