Palisades Nuclear Plant

Energy
10:52 pm
Wed September 26, 2012

Inspector discovers new water leak at Palisades nuclear plant

Lake Michigan viewed from the Palisades plant. The latest leak is from the system that uses Lake Michigan water to cool equipment. The leaking valve is in one of the secondary buildings at the location.
Mark Savage Entergy

Documents released this week show a Nuclear Regulatory Commission inspector based at Palisades discovered the leak during a routine inspection on September 20th.  

Palisades is under more scrutiny this year after a series of problems earned it one of the worst safety ratings in the country. This is at least the third water leak (depending on exactly how you tally them) at the nuclear plant this year. You can find more details about the first leak from a large water tank above the control room here, and the second water leak from the actual reactor here.

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Energy
12:36 pm
Wed September 26, 2012

TIMELINE: Problems at Palisades, 7 shutdowns in last 2 years

Palisades Nuclear Power Plant.
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 and visits from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

There's been so much news of late, it can get a little confusing.

To clear up what's been happening at Michigan's oldest operating nuclear power plant, we created this timeline.

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Environment & Science
2:42 pm
Mon September 17, 2012

Feds begin safety inspection at Palisades plant

Palisades Nuclear Plant.
Entergy Corporation

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) - A team from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has begun a special inspection of the Palisades nuclear power plant in southwestern Michigan.

The inspectors will be following up on two incidents in 2011 that caused the plant's safety rating to be downgraded, making it among the nation's poorest performing nuclear plants.

One problem was an electrical fault that caused a reactor shutdown and the other was failure of a water pump that cools safety equipment.

NRC spokeswoman Prema Chandrathil said Monday the eight-member inspector team began work Monday and will remain at Palisades for about two weeks. They'll be determining whether problem areas have been fixed and examining the plant's safety culture.

Afterward, they'll prepare a report that will determine whether Palisades' rating will go up, down or stay the same.

morning news roundup
6:47 am
Mon September 17, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines. . .

User: Brother O'Mara flickr

Some election officials will ignore citizenship question at polls

"A handful of local election officials say they won't ask voters to affirm their U-S citizenship at the polls in November. Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson wants ballot applications to include the question. A spokesman for the Secretary of State's office says the intent is to clean up voter rolls. Until 2008, the federal government required the Secretary of State to ask anyone who got a driver's license whether they wanted to register to vote. Some non-citizens were inadvertently registered, although it's not clear how many," Sarah Hulett reports.

Palisades inspections start this week

"Federal inspectors begin a critical review of operations at West Michigan’s Palisades nuclear power plant beginning Monday. Nuclear Regulatory Commission inspectors want to determine if Palisades’ owners have addressed problems that have raised questions about the nuclear plant’s “culture of safety." The problems have resulted in four unscheduled reactor shutdowns. If Palisades doesn’t get very good ratings from the NRC inspectors, the west Michigan nuclear plant will be subject to a much more intensive inspection that could take 18 months. Despite the problems a federal official insists Palisades can be operated safely," Steve Carmody reports.

Michigan Civilian Conservation Corp gets support

"Colleges, universities, and community groups are lining up to support an effort to revive Michigan’s Civilian Conservation Corps. The corps puts unemployed young adults to work on conservation projects. Legislation at the state Capitol would turn the MCCC into a public-private partnership, which wouldn’t use any taxpayer dollars. But not everyone thinks the program can just sprout back up overnight. The program hasn’t had adequate state funding for years. But sponsors of the bi-partisan bill say the level of enthusiasm so far suggests the program can make a strong comeback," Jake Neher reports.

Environment & Science
2:01 pm
Sun September 16, 2012

Palisades nuclear power plant inspection to begin this week

Palisades nuclear power plant (owned by Entergy)
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

A critical two week federal inspection of the Palisades nuclear power plant begins Monday.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission inspectors want to determine if Palisades’ owners have addressed problems that have raised questions about the nuclear plant’s “culture of safety”.

The problems have resulted in four unscheduled reactor shutdowns.

“It’s a very important inspection for us,” says Anthony Vitale, the plant’s site vice president,  “And it will give us a very good scrub as to where we are. We expect to come out of that with very good ratings.”

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Environment & Science
2:18 am
Thu September 13, 2012

Palisades critics still doubt nuclear power plant's management's commitment to safety

Catherine Sugas lives just west of the Palisades nuclear power plant. At last night's public meeting, she asked officials with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to shut down the plant
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The owners of the Palisades nuclear power plant promised last night to improve their “culture of safety."   

But dozens of people at the public meeting doubted that promise.   Catherine Sugas spoke for many people who attended the meeting when she questioned why the problem plagued nuclear power plant is still operating.

“If you can’t shut down a plant that’s dangerous…what are you?    How can you keep a plant going that’s obviously dangerous,” Sugas asked a panel from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

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Environment & Science
1:01 am
Wed September 12, 2012

Palisades nuclear power plant's safety record will be the subject of a public meeting tonight

The Palisades nuclear power plant, near South Haven, Michigan
Nuclear Regulatory Commission

The safety of west Michigan’s Palisades nuclear power plant will be the topic of a public meeting tonight in South Haven.

Palisades has one of the worst safety ratings in the country.

Maintenance mistakes and other problems led to four unscheduled reactor shutdowns at Palisades in 2011.  And there have been more problems this year.

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Energy
1:56 am
Fri September 7, 2012

Entergy uses open house to show workers “are returning Palisades to excellence”

People got a chance to speak with Palisades managers and engineers at the open house Thursday night in South Haven.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Dozens of people crowded around several small tables at conference center in South Haven, six miles north of the Palisades nuclear plant.

Each table features a different area of concern or interest at the plan; the reactor vessel’s embrittlement factor, a water tank leak, a coupling failure, replacement of a cooling tower, how spent fuel is stored, community projects Entergy supports.

Engineers and project managers point to pictures and diagrams to help answer questions. There are little freebies and even a raffle for a new Ipad.

The plant has one of the worst safety ratings in the country after a series of problems in 2011.

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Environment & Science
12:46 pm
Thu September 6, 2012

Stateside: Palisades' dubious distinction

Palisades reactor from ouside
Mark Savage Entergy Nuclear Operations

One of the biggest environmental stories in our state this year comes from the West Side of Michigan near South Haven, on the shores of Lake Michigan.

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Environment & Science
9:00 am
Thu September 6, 2012

Operators of Palisades nuclear power plant to hold open house

Palisades Nuclear Power Plant near South Haven, MI
Entergy Corporation

The Palisades nuclear power plant is hosting an open house tonight in South Haven. It’s a rare opportunity for people to ask detailed questions about the plant.

It’s impractical to host the open house at the plant because of security reasons. Instead, it’ll take place at the same conference center where the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has held a number of public hearings this year about the plant’s poor safety rating. In fact, the NRC will host a public meeting next week at the same place to discuss those safety concerns in detail.

Palisades spokesman Mark Savage says the open house tonight will be informal… kind of like a science fair.

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energy
8:49 am
Wed September 5, 2012

Team of federal regulators prepare for major inspection at Palisades nuclear plant

Some electrical equiptment at the Palisades plant.
Mark Savage Entergy

New documents show a team of nuclear regulators will begin a major inspection of the Palisades nuclear power plant this month. The inspection is a direct result of the plant’s downgraded safety rating that was issued earlier this year.

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energy
11:31 am
Thu August 30, 2012

Palisades returning to service after repairing another leak

Control room operators began brining the plant back online this morning. It takes about a day to get up to full power and sync up with the electric grid. This photo is from April 2012.
Mark Savage Entergy

This post has been modified to correct language from the NRC.

The Palisades nuclear power plant is returning to service. It was shut down earlier this month to repair a water leak in the building where the actual reactor is located.  

Workers found water was leaking through several cracks in a device that sits atop the nuclear reactor. Palisades Spokesman Mark Savage says they completely replaced that control rod device.

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Energy
5:40 pm
Wed August 15, 2012

NRC sends inspection team to Palisades Nuclear Power Plant

Palisades Nuclear Power Plant on Lake Michigan near South Haven, Michigan.
NRC.gov

Palisades Nuclear Power Plant was shut down this past Sunday for a water leak inside a containment building. This is the second leak at the plant this summer that has triggered a shutdown.

The plant is operated by Entergy Nuclear Operations and is located in Covert, Michigan near South Haven.

Today, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced that a three member inspection team is at Palisades looking into the problem:

The three member inspection team will begin work Wednesday and look into the circumstances surrounding the leak. They will review the utility’s monitoring of the leak and subsequent plant shutdown, verify the adequacy of radiological controls, evaluate any potential degradation, and review the plant’s repair actions. The team will also review the plant’s reporting requirements and their plan for addressing the cause of the event.

Michigan Radio's Lindsey Smith covered the shutdown in yesterday's Environment Report segment. She spoke with Entergy spokesman Mark Savage.

Savage says they’ve determined that a “control rod drive package” is the source of the leak. There are 45 of these control rods. Plant operators can raise or lower control rods to control the rate of the nuclear reaction.

“And occasionally these control rod drives will have a problem. In this case we couldn’t identify it until we actually shut the plant down. So we take aggressive action to shut the plant down, do the right thing, make the repairs and return the plant to service," Savage said.

Palisades has been the focus of significantly more oversight from federal regulators over the last year.

Environment & Science
9:00 am
Tue August 14, 2012

Another leak forces shutdown at Palisades nuclear power plant

Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

The Palisades Nuclear Power Plant near South Haven has shut down again.

This is the second time this summer Entergy Corporation has had to shut down the plant for repairs. 

The plant shut down to refuel in April; that was normal. It restarted in early May.

But then a water leak in a tank above the control room caused the plant to shut back down just a few weeks later. Those repairs took a month and on July 11th the plant started up again. Though that leak appears to be fixed, it is still under investigation by special federal agents with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

But as it returned to service in July, Palisades spokesman Mark Savage says operators discovered a different water leak – this time in the building that holds the nuclear reactor. In a written statement, Savage called the leak “minor.”

The company noticed this leak when they restarted the plant after fixing that first leak in a tank above the control room. This leak is in a different area of the plant – the containment building. This building holds the nuclear reactor itself.

Prema Chandrathil is a spokeswoman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.  She says the leak is not a threat to public health.

“It’s contained and it goes into the plant’s waste storage tank," Chandrathil said.

Chandrathil says the situation at Palisades is “serious” though. The NRC now has a specialized inspector to assist regular inspectors at the plant while the company makes repairs.

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Energy
1:40 pm
Sun August 12, 2012

New water leak forces Palisades nuclear power plant to shut down again

The leak is somewhere in the containment building, the circular shaped one on the left. That's where the nuclear reacotr is housed.
Mark Savage Entergy

The Palisades Nuclear Power Plant near South Haven is shut down again. This is the second time this summer Entergy Corporation has had to shut down the plant for repairs.

The plant shut down to refuel in April; that was normal. It restarted in early May.

But then a water leak in a tank above the control room caused the plant to shut back down just a few weeks later. Those repairs took a month and on July 11th the plant started up again. Though that leak appears to be fixed, it is still under investigation by special federal agents with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

But as it returned to service in July, Palisades Spokesman Mark Savage says operators discovered a different water leak – this time in the building that holds the nuclear reactor. In a written statement Savage called the leak “minor.”

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energy
11:05 am
Tue July 17, 2012

Report on Palisades nuclear plant: 'Lack of accountability at all levels'

Mark Savage Entergy Corporation

Update 11:05 a.m.

Palisades Spokesman Mark Savage issued these bullet points Tuesday in an email response to reporters about the report by Conger & Elsea:

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energy
11:55 am
Wed July 11, 2012

Palisades nuclear plant restarts after repairs to leaky water tank

The Palisades Power Plant is near South Haven, Michigan.
Mark Savage Entergy Corporation

The Palisades nuclear power plant is returning to service after being shut down for the last four weeks to repair a leaking water tank.

The tank is a giant aluminum sphere that holds 300,000 gallons of water in case of emergencies or a planned refueling outage.

The tank is made up of a bunch of aluminum plates welded together. There are 26 plates on the bottom of the tank.  Palisades spokesman Mark Savage says they found  “several minor through wall leaks” in the aluminum walls and some flaws in the welds themselves and repaired them all.

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energy
8:55 am
Tue July 3, 2012

Federal investigators probe Entergy over leaky tank at Palisades

Palisades pictured from the nearby Van Buren State Park on the shores of Lake Michigan
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

This story has been modified to correct a metric conversion and the reference to the substance tritium.

The Palisades plant near South Haven has an aluminum water tank that’s used in case of emergencies or when the plant needs to be refueled. Last month, Entergy, the company that owns the plant, shut the reactor down to fix a leak in the tank.

Palisades knew the tank was leaking for longer than the company first said

It appears that the water tank has been leaking for a lot longer than the company first admitted.

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energy
2:01 pm
Thu June 28, 2012

Federal agents launch investigation of Entergy; company that operates Palisades Nuclear Power Plant

The water tank in question is located above Palisades' control room, pictured here during a plant tour in April 2012.
Mark Savage Entergy Corporation

The investigation launched this week concerns a leaking water tank. Two weeks ago, Palisades shut down so crews could repair the leaky tank. At that time, Entergy reported they knew about the leak for several weeks. But Nuclear Regulatory Commission inspectors at the plant say they’ve been monitoring the leak for more than a year.

The tank is used in emergencies or planned refueling outages. The plant remains shut down, and the company never shares how long they expect planned outages to last.

The special federal agents are from the NRC’s Office of Investigations.

According to the NRC’s website:

“OI (Office of Investigations) may commence appropriate investigative activity when a matter is brought to the attention of OI indicating that wrongdoing is alleged to have been committed by a person or entity within NRC jurisdiction. Investigations may also be conducted of any matter within NRC jurisdiction that the Commission desires to be investigated.”

The office “assists the NRC staff in pursuing enforcement options and the Department of Justice in prosecution of criminal violations.”

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Environment & Science
10:45 am
Sat June 23, 2012

No date set for reopening of Palisades nuclear power plant

COVERT TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - A spokesman says work continues at the Palisades nuclear plant 10 days after the southwestern Michigan facility was shut down to repair a leak in a water tank.

Palisades spokesman Mark Savage said Friday that crews are analyzing and evaluating the tank.

The plant in Van Buren County's Covert Township voluntarily shut down June 12th.

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