During an online public meeting Tuesday night, federal nuclear regulators reiterated their belief that the Palisades nuclear power plant in Covert, Michigan, near South Haven is safe.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission hosted the meeting to talk with the public about the strength of the vessel that contains the nuclear reactor and fuel. Radiation, high pressure and temperatures over long periods of time make the metal vessels in all pressurized water reactors more vulnerable at nuclear plants.
Palisades is the oldest nuclear power plant in the state, and it’s got one of the most brittle reactor vessels in the country. Older nuclear plants like Palisades have some copper in the mostly steel vessel; later designs have stronger steel, regulators said.
Mark Kirk is a Senior Materials Engineer in the Office of Nuclear Regulatory Research at the NRC.
“It’s unquestionably true that Palisades, one of the welds in Palisades, is one of the most embrittled in all of the plants operating in the US,” Kirk said. “Even so, Palisades continues to operate in compliance with the relevant NRC rules.”
By 2017 the plant’s vessel will become too brittle to legally operate.