Officials from the troubled Palisades Nuclear Power Plant will be available to answer public questions at an open house event being held on Wednesday, September 11th. The event will take place from 5 to 7 PM at 330 West Main Street in Benton Harbor.
Palisades was shut down in early May after an unplanned release of 79 gallons of radioactive water into Lake Michigan. The water leaked from a 300,000 gallon holding tank on the roof of the plant’s control room. Leaks are a recurring problem at Palisades, which has reported seven leaks to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in the last two years, resulting in six shutdowns. The plant shut down in June 2012 to repair the same tank, which had been leaking for several weeks.
In early June of this year, another leak occurred during repairs to the troublesome tank, allowing water to seep into the control room itself. During the repair it was discovered that a portion of the foundation supporting the tank was never installed during the plant’s initial construction. Nuclear watchdog group Beyond Nuclear questioned the safety of the plant in light of the recurring leaks; “If Palisades can’t even prevent basic leakage through the ceiling of the control room, which has been going on for over two years, what does that say about its reactor and nuclear waste safeguards?” On June 17, Palisades resumed service after the Nuclear Regulatory Commission certified the plant’s safety.
In July, it was announced that thirty of Palisades’ 650 workers would be laid off, due to utility industry trends stemming from low natural gas prices. Officials from Entergy Corp, the Louisiana-based energy company which owns and operates Palisades, were quoted as “mulling the future of its wholesale nuclear operation”. On August 22, a Palisades employee tested positive for alcohol when subjected to “a random fitness for duty test”.
The Palisades Nuclear Power Plant was first licensed for operation in 1971. A licence renewal was issued in 2007 and will expire in 2031. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission maintains a records page for Palisades, which can be accessed here.