News about Palisades – from “rocky history” to shutdown announcement, reversal, and beyond
Editor’s note: News about Palisades Nuclear Generating Station took so much space on our News Page that we decided to put it somewhere else. Our Palisades Chronology now takes up nine pages.
- Page 1 begins with a link to “Timeline: Palisades’ rocky history” published in The Herald Palladium on December 9 and goes to the end of 2016.
- Page 2 covers January and February, 2017, including MPSC closing its initial case in the matter and opening a new one.
- Page 3 brings our Palisades news up to date on plant problems in March and April, up to news about a November tritium tritium leak that wasn’t made public until it was buried in a routine NRC report on April 28.
- Page 4 starts with a report on MPSC’s public hearing in Lawrence and goes through June, 2017.
- Page 5, July, Part 1 – news on the MPSC legal case and a report on the July 13 program that Bette Pierman organized with Chris Williams, who shared what he’s learned watching the decommissioning at Entergy’s Vermont Yankee plant.
- Page 6, July, Part 2 – a Palisades “Event Report,” an NRC investigation, and the July 26 Open House.
- Page 7 goes from the August 17 report that Palisades fixed its tornado problem to the September 26 MPSC news release about its ruling on Consumers’ PPA buyout plan.
- Page 8 – the last three days of September: Entergy’s decision, reactions, and a seven-year list of security amendments.
- Page 9 – news on how Southwest Michigan is adjusting, Entergy’s license amendment requests, more to come.
Palisades Chronology Page 5: early to mid July, 2017
July 7, July 12
On July 7, Consumers Energy asked MPSC to extend the deadline for its decision in the Consumers/Entergy power purchase agreement buyout case to September 28, 2017. MPSC and all intervenors stipulated that they had no objections. On July 12, Administrative Law Judge Sharon L. Feldman issued an order extending the deadline as requested. MPSC had originally committed to issuing its decision in August.
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has announced that it will hold an open house “to discuss its assessment of Palisades Nuclear Plant performance and other NRC activities as the plant prepares for closure,” according to MLive. Time and place:
- 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM, Wednesday, July 26
- Baymont Inn and Suites Conference Center, 1555 Phoenix Rd., South Haven
Entergy may sell Palisades to a decommissioning company.
A website called Exchange Monitor, a division of Access Intelligence, cited “AREVA Nuclear Materials” as saying “it had signed a deal to extract and ship the reactor pressure vessel and internal reactor parts at the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station for prospective plant owner NorthStar Group Services.” For NorthStar to becomes the actual owner, it would have to buy the plant from Entergy. Apparently referring to NorthStar, the report, which provides no corroborating links, says:
The New York-based decommissioning specialist hopes by the first quarter of next year to secure state and federal regulatory approval to buy the shuttered facility from power company Entergy for cleanup. It aims to complete decommissioning as early as 2026, decades before the schedule set by Entergy.
AREVA Nuclear Materials is a U.S. subsidiary of a French company. NorthStar is a company that advertises “safe and efficient nuclear facility decommissioning.” Exchange Monitor’s report cited “an Entergy spokesman” as naming two other nuclear plants that Entergy is considering selling to the decommissioning company: Pilgrim in Massachusetts and Palisades in Michigan.
Entergy has asked the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to allow a cutback on plant security when Palisades closes. The request notification says that:
Entergy submitted a request for exemption from specific provisions of 1 O CFR 73.55, “Requirements for physical protection of licensed activities in nuclear power reactors against radiological sabotage,” for Palisades to the NRC for approval.
One of the “specific provisions” is “related to the suspension of security measures in an emergency or during severe weather for Palisades.” It seems clear that the plant’s shutdown will not immediately reduce the plant’s stockpile of high-level nuclear waste subject to radiological sabotage during an emergency or severe weather. NRC estimated that evaluating and ruling on Entergy’s request will take about a year.
Activist Chris Williams, who’s been watching the decommissioning at Entergy’s Vermont Yankee nuclear plant, presented a program in South Haven to let Southwest Michigan folks know what to expect when the process gets underway at Palisades. Rebecca Thiele of WMUK was on hand for the program at the South Haven campus of Lake Michigan College on the evening of July 13. Click here to see her report.
Among the key points Williams made:
- The people of Vermont formed an independent panel of Vermont citizens, state and local agencies and authorities, news media, interested organizations, and workers and companies involved in decommissioning at Vermont Yankee. The panel meets regularly to communicate with one another and to keep the public aware of the process and its progress. Williams said it was crucial that a similar panel be established to assure accountability at Palisades.
- The decommissioning program’s financial aspects, such as available funds, budget considerations, and the temptation to save money by cutting corners will require special attention. Right now, Entergy is obligated to completely finance the decommissioning. If Entergy sells the plant to a decommissioning company, the transaction must not push any of this cost onto the Michigan public. Cleanup estimates at Vermont Yankee exceed a billion dollars. The Palisades decommissioning fund has only $427 million.
- Short-term and long-term plans for safe handling of the high-level nuclear waste that Palisades has been producing for more than 45 years will be critical.
Video of the Chris Williams presentation
End of Palisades Chronology, Page 5
Quicklinks to our Palisades Chronology pages
- Page 1 – day one, June, 1965, to the end of 2016
- Page 2– January and February, 2017.
- Page 3 – March and April, 2017.
- Page 4 – May and June, 2017.
- Page 5 – Early to mid July, 2017.
- Page 6 – Mid to late July, 2017.
- Page 7 – August, 2017, through September 26.
- Page 8 – The last three days of September, 2017.
- Page 9 – October, 2017.