October 21, 2013
Ever since 1953, the state of Minnesota has conducted environmental radiation tests to measure the presence of various isotopes in its air, water, and land. While the roots of its monitoring program were grounded in concerns about above-ground nuclear testing, the program was later expanded to cover the state’s two nuclear power plants as well. Both of these plants are also subject to separate testing and review by the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
In 2011, PRM sought documents from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) related to that agency’s monitoring of environmental radiation. While our initial request was solely related to the occurrence of tritium, MDH provided documentation related to a much broader spectrum of testing.
At present, MDH has environmental radiation reports from 2007-2012 posted on its web site. Through our earlier data request, we also obtained reports for 2005-2006, and subsequently posted them in our document archive. In late 2011, we produced a summary of the 2005-2010 MDH reports, which is available here.
In order to expand the scope of publicly available radiation monitoring data, PRM recently submitted a request to MDH for test results from several other years, reaching all the way back to 1953. In its response to our document request, MDH informed us that they would provide raw data from 1953-2004, as final monitoring reports were not produced during those years. We plan to post that data set in its entirety once we receive it from the department. We will also provide a summarized version of the information, in order to help illustrate Minnesota’s radiation levels over the past several decades.