Palisades Nuclear Plant

Environment & Science
10:32 am
Mon May 13, 2013

'Outraged' by leak, Upton to tour Palisades Nuclear Plant

Palisades Nuclear Plant in Covert, Mich. near South Haven.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Congressman Fred Upton (MI-06) will head to southwest Michigan this afternoon, to check out the condition of the Palisades Nuclear Power Plant.

The unplanned release of slightly radioactive water into Lake Michigan earlier this month “outraged” the Republican congressman, who chairs the U.S. House’s Energy and Commerce Committee.

“Every option must be on the table to ensure that the continuing leak will not occur again,” Upton said in a statement last week, suggesting that a full replacement of the leaky water tank may be in order.

Officials from the nuclear plant maintain that the leak will not harm the public or any of the plant’s 650 workers.

A commissioner from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission will be accompanying Upton on his tour today.

The congressman is expected to speak publicly after the visit.

Michigan Radio's Lindsey Smith will be there and she'll bring us more later today.

- Melanie Kruvelis, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Environment & Science
6:52 pm
Tue May 7, 2013

Palisades leak angers Congressman Upton; new documents show alternative fix for leaky tank

Congressman Fred Upton
Republican Conference Creative Commons

A powerful voice in Washington is demanding a permanent fix to the leaky water tank at the Palisades Nuclear Plant.

Congressman Fred Upton says he’s “outraged” by the unplanned release of slightly radioactive water into Lake Michigan over the weekend. Regulators say there is no risk to public safety.

Upton chairs the House’s Energy and Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over domestic nuclear regulatory activities.

The plant is in Congressman Upton’s district. Entergy, the company that owns the plant, was one of the top contributors to his election campaign last year.

Upton is demanding accountability and a permanent fix to the tank, which has leaked on and off for at least two years.

In a written statement, Upton says he plans to personally visit the site with a Nuclear Regulatory Commissioner.

“It is my understanding that the water tank will be emptied by the end of the week with the hope that the cause of the leak can be identified shortly thereafter.  Every option must be on the table – including a full replacement of the tank – to ensure that the continuing leak will not occur again,” Upton said.

Requests for an interview were not immediately returned.

New documents show Entergy had asked regulators for an alternative fix for the leaky tank on April 25th. Those documents assumed the leaks had stabilized.

“The current leak rate is stable without an increasing trend which suggests that the current through wall flaws have self-relieved the initiating stresses, are not growing, and remain well below the calculated allowable flaw length.”

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is investigating why the leak rate went from one gallon per day late last week to 90 gallons a day in one 24-hour period.

In the documents, Entergy requests an alternative fix for the tank “that would add a fiberglass-reinforced vinyl ester liner to the tank bottom and to a portion of the tank wall in lieu of identifying the location of the thru-wallleak(s) and performing code compliant repairs.”

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Politics & Government
7:27 am
Tue May 7, 2013

In this morning's news: MI Rep might join FBI, Palisades leaks into Lake MI, Detroit showing promise

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Michigan Rep. Mike Rogers candidate for FBI director

A group representing FBI agents and retirees says it wants Michigan Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Brighton) to be the next FBI director. Rogers worked as an FBI agent before being elected to the Michigan Senate. He was later elected to Congress.

Seventy-nine gallons of radioactive water in Lake Michigan

The Palisades Nuclear Plant shut down yesterday after a release of slightly radioactive water into Lake Michigan.  Seventy-nine gallons drained into Lake Michigan near South Haven on Saturday.

"The agency does not know exactly how radioactive the water was, but based on general knowledge of where the water came from there is no risk to public safety," reports Michigan Radio's Lindsey Smith.

U.S. Education Secretary finds promise in Detroit

Yesterday U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Governor Rick Snyder visited public schools in Detroit and a school in the state’s Education Achievement Authority. The EAA is a controversial entity meant to turn around some of the state’s worst public schools.

"US Education Secretary Arne Duncan says he’s “very encouraged” by improvements he’s seen in Detroit schools."  reports Michigan Radio's Jake Neher.

Environment & Science
4:18 pm
Mon May 6, 2013

Palisades shutdown comes after assumed ‘unplanned’ release of radioactive water into Lake Michigan

The 300,000-gallon tank sits on the roof of a building at the plant.
Mark Savage Entergy

Update 4:14 p.m.

“The most important thing to understand regarding this shutdown is the health and safety of our employees and the public has never been impacted by this issue,” said Terry Young, Vice President of Nuclear Communications for Entergy.

He confirms the unplanned release of slightly radioactive water into Lake Michigan, but couldn’t say exactly how much.

“It’s really impossible to tell at this juncture what the length of this shutdown will be because we haven’t yet had a chance to identify what the issue is that we’re going to need to fix,” Young said.

This will be the third attempt to fix the leaky tank within the last year and a half.

“We have gone through pretty exhaustive measures on a couple of occasions to bring the plant offline and do just extensive testing and repairs and we’ll take a look at what’s causing the leak this time,” Young said.

I asked if it would make more sense to replace the tank instead.

“I really don’t know any background information on that in terms of what that would cost, I honestly couldn’t comment on that,” Young said.

Young notes the plant has had “a lot of success” at Palisades in the year and a half in “significantly improving performance.” The NRC recently upgraded the plant's safety rating after a series of problems in 2011 left it with one of the worst safety performance ratings in the country.

Last month Site Vice President Tony Vitale noted that a number of issues “have required repairs to be done with the plant offline and that’s unacceptable.” He says they’re reviewing their procedures to see if there’s something they should change.

“We’re diving into our programs and finding out why these issues are finding us instead of us finding them,” Vitale said in April.

“It is unfortunate that this is a recurrent issue that we are dealing with here,” Young said, “but our resolve is strong to fix this issue once and for all.”

Updated 1:11 p.m.

Officials from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission estimate 79 gallons of "slightly" radioactive water drained into Lake Michigan on Saturday.

NRC Spokeswoman Viktoria Mitlyng says the agency doesn’t know exactly how radioactive the water was, but based on general knowledge of where the water came from, there is no risk to public safety.

“The unplanned release of this radioactive water is not something you want to have happen,” Mitlyng added.

The water came from a large water tank on the roof of the Palisades plant’s control room. It holds 300,000 gallons of water in case of emergencies or a planned refueling outage.

The plant is located in Covert Township, about 70 miles southwest of Grand Rapids.

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Politics & Government
7:41 am
Mon May 6, 2013

In this morning's news: US secretary in Detroit, Palisades shut down, voters to the polls Tuesday

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US education secretary to visit Detroit schools

"President Obama's education secretary will be in Detroit on Monday for a town hall meeting on education issues and visits to three area schools," the Associated Press reports.

Palisades nuclear power plant shut down after water leak

"Operators of the Palisades Nuclear Power Plant in southwestern Michigan removed it from service Sunday because of a repeat water leak from a tank that caused seepage into the control room last year. The plant has been under extra Nuclear Regulatory Commission scrutiny after numerous safety issues. There were four shutdowns last year and at least two this year," the Associated Press reports.

Michigan voters head to the polls Tuesday

Many Michigan communities will be voting in local elections on Tuesday. Local elections including filling the vacant mayor's seat in Troy, choosing a new state senator in Genesee County, and in many parts of the state, residents can vote on school board issues.

Environment & Science
11:54 am
Sun May 5, 2013

Palisades nuclear power plant shuts after water leak

COVERT TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - Operators of the Palisades Nuclear Power Plant in southwestern Michigan say they removed it from service because of a water leak.

The plant operators say they took the plant off line Sunday morning for inspections and repairs to the safety injection/refueling water tank. They say there is no risk to the public.

The plant is along Lake Michigan's shoreline in Van Buren County's Covert Township, about 80 miles east-northeast of Chicago.

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Energy
6:30 am
Thu April 11, 2013

Union of Concerned Scientists’ nuclear expert in Michigan to discuss Palisades

Dave Lochbaum
Union of Concerned Scientists

The director of the nuclear safety project for the Union of Concerned Scientists is in Michigan to talk about the Palisades nuclear power plant.

David Lochbaum is critical of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in his latest report on nuclear safety released in March.

Lochbaum says the NRC should have fined Entergy, the company that owns Palisades, over a water leak last summer.

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Energy
11:48 am
Wed April 3, 2013

Palisades says plant on “road to recovery,” not all convinced

Two tables full of NRC officials from the region and Washington DC answered questions from the public during a meeting Tuesday night.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Entergy Corporation, the company that owns the Palisades nuclear power plant, says the plant is on the “road to recovery” after a series of safety problems.

Federal regulators recently upgraded the plant’s safety rating from one of the worst in the country after it passed a major inspection last fall.

Palisades Vice President Tony Vitale outlined the steps he and his staff took last year to improve human performance at the plant, one of the main reasons for the safety rating downgrade.

He says a recent, independent study of the safety culture shows the plan is paying off.

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Environment & Science
8:56 am
Thu March 28, 2013

Are the safety problems at Palisades getting any better yet?

On March 28th 2012, I tour the Palisades plant. Above me are the tailpipes for a massive generator, for emergency use..
Mark Savage Entergy Corporation

This week Nuclear Regulatory Commissioner William Magwood came to South Haven to tour the Palisades nuclear power plant in nearby Covert Township.

Magwood did not respond to requests to comment on how his tour went or why he chose to come.

He’s the second commissioner to visit the plant in less than a year. NRC spokeswoman Viktoria Mitlyng says that many high-level visits in such a short time is “not necessarily” uncommon.

“You can draw your own conclusions about that because I cannot do that for you,”Mitlyng said.

Kevin Kamps is with the anti-nuclear watchdog group Beyond Nuclear. Unlike the media, he and several others got a chance to sit down with Commissioner Magwood.

“There were some hints around the edges that it’s because of the problem plagued nature of Palisades and he even used the word disappointment for continued problems out there,” Kamps said.

2012 was a crazy year for the Palisades. Get a feel for it in our timeline on Palisades here.

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Energy
12:06 pm
Wed March 20, 2013

Regulators: chance of Palisades vessel break resulting in radiation release – one in a million

A slide from the online meeting NRC hosted Tuesday.
Nuclear Regulatory Commission

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.

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Energy
6:00 am
Mon March 18, 2013

Federal regulators to talk about Palisades’ aging nuclear vessel in public meeting online

The nuclear reactor vessel is inside the taller containment building on the left.
Mark Savage Entergy Nuclear Operations

Nuclear regulators will discuss the risk of “pressurized thermal shock,” one of the biggest fears anti-nuclear groups have about the Palisades nuclear power plant during an online meeting Tuesday.

Over time the radiation, extreme pressure and heat from the nuclear reactor wear on the metal vessel that contains it. That’s called embrittlement.

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The Environment Report
12:03 pm
Thu December 13, 2012

Palisades: a year in review

NRC officials Jack Giessner, Tom Taylor, April Scarbeary, Robert Orlikowski, and Chuck Castro answer questions from the public.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

The Palisades Nuclear Power Plant near South Haven has been going through some significant challenges over the past couple of years. It’s been shut down eight times in two years, and federal regulators downgraded its safety rating to one of the worst in the country.

Michigan Radio's Lindsey Smith has been writing about the plant through the turmoil. She joined me on today's Environment Report to take a look back at the events of the past year.

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Environment & Science
4:21 pm
Wed December 12, 2012

TIMELINE: 8 shutdowns at Palisades Nuclear Power Plant in past 2 years

Palisades Nuclear Power Plant on the shores of Lake Michigan near South Haven.
Entergy Corporation

Michigan Radio has been following the problems at the Palisades Nuclear Power Plant for the last several years.

Our West Michigan reporter, Lindsey Smith, has been on top of all the leaks, shutdowns, public meetings and visits from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Last February, after five shutdowns in one year, the NRC downgraded Palisades' safety rating. It was rated as one of the four worst in the country.

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Energy
2:53 am
Wed December 12, 2012

“Significant” issues at Palisades plant resolved, but still a “long way to go"

Kevin Kamps of Beyond Nuclear asks officials from NRC questions about Palisades at a meeting Tuesday night in South Haven.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Company officials who run the Palisades nuclear plant in southwest Michigan say they are improving the safety culture among workers that led to “significant” safety concerns last year. But at a meeting in South Haven Tuesday night, Palisades Site Vice President Tony Vitale said the plant has a “long way to go” to reach “operating excellence.”

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Energy
4:48 pm
Tue November 20, 2012

Nuclear regulators schedule public meeting to discuss Palisades safety upgrade

The Palisades nuclear plant is located in Covert, Michigan.
Mark Savage Entergy

Top federal nuclear regulators will be in South Haven early next month to discuss the Palisades nuclear power plant’s recent safety rating upgrade with the community.

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Environment & Science
5:02 pm
Fri November 9, 2012

Palisades safety rating gets upgraded from one of the worst in the country

Inside the control room at Palisades.
Mark Savage Entergy

On Friday Federal regulators upgraded the safety rating at the Palisades nuclear plant from one of the worst in the country to one of the best. That’s after Palisades passed a major inspection following a number of safety problems last year.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission says the poor safety culture among workers at Palisades has improved. That culture was blamed for the biggest safety issue that happened in September 2011 when a worker caused an electrical short that resulted in half the control room indicators going dead.

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Energy
10:54 am
Thu November 8, 2012

Fermi 2 nuclear power plant shutdown

Fermi 2 nuclear power plant on Lake Erie
NRC

DTE Energy's Fermi 2 nuclear power plant was shutdown yesterday morning after workers discovered excess hydrogen in a generator cooling system.

From the Detroit News:

DTE spokesman Guy Cerullo said Thursday that workers will be checking equipment to find the root of the problem. The company would not provide a timetable for the power plant to be back online.

"Customers won't see any difference," Cerullo said. "We are always are able to get additional power from other plants."

No one at the plant or in surrounding areas was in any danger, Cerullo said.

The Fermi 2 nuclear power plant is near Monroe, Michigan and it sits on Lake Erie.

There are 38 nuclear power plants operating in the eight Great Lakes states. Four are in Michigan. Five nuclear power plants are operating in Ontario.

Energy
4:50 pm
Wed November 7, 2012

Palisades fixes latest leak, plant now returning to service

Mark Savage Entergy Corporation

The Palisades nuclear power plant is gradually returning to service after a brief shutdown this week.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission estimates between 5 and 50 gallons of water leaked in the form of steam from a broken valve at Palisades. The slightly radioactive leak was contained and regulators say there was no risk to public safety.

On Sunday the plant shut down when workers discovered steam leaking from the valve. In a written statement, Palisades spokesman Mark Savage says the valve has been replaced.

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Energy
4:48 pm
Mon November 5, 2012

Palisades nuclear plant shuts down to repair steam leak

Palisades Nuclear Power Plant
NRC.gov

Palisades nuclear power plant has shut down yet again.

The latest shutdown is the result of a steam leak inside the plant’s auxiliary building, the Associated Press reports.

From the AP:

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Energy
11:38 pm
Fri November 2, 2012

Palisades nuclear plant passes emergency drill this week with no violations

Palisades sits on Lake Michigan in Covert, Michigan.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Officials from both the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission shared their preliminary results Friday of an emergency drill at Palisades earlier this week. During the two-day drill officials from the plant in Covert Township had to react to a simulated release of radiation into the environment. Agencies from several counties in Michigan and Indiana took part in the drill as well.

NRC Senior Emergency Preparedness Inspector Bob Jickling evaluated how the licensee, Entergy, responds.

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