Palisades chronology: “Palisades’ rocky history” covers 52 years and counting. This is page 6.

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 page 6 starts in mid-July, 2017. More to follow.

  • Page 1 begins with the July, 2016, controversy about falsified security reports, and continues through Sierra Club Southwest Michigan Group’s January 12, 2017, adoption of its resolution supporting the Palisades shutdown.
  • Page 2 goes from mid-January, 2017, up to MPSC’s mid-February announcement that it would hold its first public hearing in the case on March 9.
  • Page 3 carries our Palisades Chronology to the end of March and the disclosure that Palisades may not be able to handle a tornado.
  • Page 4 runs from the beginning of April through June 9 – meeting reports, case updates.
  • Page 5 ends with 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 recaps a Palisades “Event Report” from July 17 up to the July 26 Open House.
  • Page 7 goes from the August 17 report that Palisades fixed its tornado problem to a September 26 news release about MPSC’s ruling on Consumers’ PPA buyout plan.
  • Page 8 picks up on September 28 with the announcement that Palisades won’t close in October 2018 as previously announced.
Palisades chronology page 6

The latest on Palisades, updated often, right here on our “Palisades Chronology” page.

On December 9, 2016, the day after the Palisades shutdown news release, The Herald Palladium published a comprehensive timeline covering “Palisades’ rocky history.” The timeline begins a few months before the January 28, 1966, headline that hailed a new “$100 million electrical plant.” The March, 1973, timeline entry reports that “after eight years and $170 million,” Palisades got the okay to operate at full power. The Palladium’s Palisades chronology ends with the August, 2016, announcement that Anthony Vitale, who’d been in charge at Palisades for five years, was being replaced. We started our palisades chronology in mid-July, 2016 – a month before Entergy named a new boss at Palisades.

Palisades Chronology Page 6

Our Palisades Chronology Page 6 starts with a recap of a Palisades “Event Report” that came two months after the fact. Then we have a report from Craig Schultz on the July 26 Palisades Open House. More to come. Stay tuned.

July 17

Entergy filed an “Event Report” with NRC on July 17 about a May 19 error by a Nuclear Control Operator (NCO) at Palisades that caused “an unexpected Reactor Protection System (RPS) actuation.” The reactor was shut down at the time, and the problem “occurred during pre-startup testing.” Initiating the test required a two-step process. Entergy’s report says, “The NCO obtained peer check support from a second NCO” who double-checked that the first NCO had done the second of the two steps correctly. The procedure did not require anyone to double-check the first step.

Corrective action:

The [first] NCO ‘s licensed operator qualifications were removed until formal remediation was completed. A standing order was initiated to immediately require peer check verification of all procedure conditional steps.”

“There were no adverse safety consequences,” said Entergy.

The plant was shut down. It was only a test. Two months ago.

July 25

A Nuclear Regulatory Commission investigation last November at Entergy’s Vermont Yankee plant revealed that for about eight months Entergy violated certain radiation protection procedures. Vermont Yankee has been closed since the end of 2014. An inspector with NRC’s Nuclear Decommissioning division discovered the violation. Entergy’s July 25 response acknowledged the violation and reported that they fired the responsible employee.

July 27

Bette Pierman and Kraig Schultz went to NRC’s July 26 Palisades Open House. Kraig emailed this report:

Kraig Schultz at Palisades Open House - Palisades Chronology page 6

Kraig Schultz was paying close attention at NRC’s July 26 Open House. That’s Bette Pierman right behind him.

The NRC meeting was set up in a format that did not allow public comment. However, it did allow for direct conversation with many people from the NRC and also many of the top management people from Entergy. The NRC did three presentations that gave general information that we were already aware of.

I pursued the question of how much money is in the Decommissioning fund and if that is “enough” with NRC and Entergy representatives. I requested data from the NRC via e-mail on the exact amount in the decommissioning fund over time. With that data, I hope to make a chart showing what the fund has done with a comparison to what the NRC requires to be in the fund. Entergy top management indicated that decisions about how much money should be placed in the fund by Entergy is a business decision that is made at Entergy headquarters level, not at the plant level.

Expanding on Kraig’s concern about the decommissioning fund:

NRC regulations require that, before a nuclear plant can begin operating, the licensee must establish a fund that will cover the plant’s eventual decommissioning costs. The Palisades decommissioning fund has been in questionable shape ever since Consumers raided the fund when it sold the plant to Entergy in 2006. See WMUK’s report by Rebecca Thiele. Her report says that NRC pegs the cost to decommission at “anywhere from $200 million to $600 million.” Southern California Edison says decommissioning its recently closed San Onofre plant “is expected to take 20 years and cost $4.4 billion” – more than seven times NRC’s high-end estimate!

The Michigan Public Service Commission is accepting public comments as the Commission considers the Palisades shutdown plan. When you email your comments to mpscedockets@michigan.gov, refer to MPSC Case No. U-18250. One thing you could include in your comment is your insistence that Consumers ratepayers not be assessed a surcharge to cover a shortfall in the the Palisades decommissioning fund.

Here’s a video of the July 26 open house

Mlive also reported on the open house.


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End of Palisades Chronology, Page 6

Quicklinks to our Palisades Chronology pages

  • Page 1 starts with the Palisades timeline – day one to December 8, 2016 – published in The Herald Palladium and takes us to mid-January and SWMG’s adoption of its Palisades Shutdown Resolution.
  • Page 2 provides an expert’s translation of Consumers Energy’s 99-page response to MPSC’s list of questions and info on other financial concerns.
  • Page 3 looks at local issues and comments from mid-February and ends with the March 30 disclosure that Palisades was not designed to withstand a tornado.
  • Page 4 reports on several public meetings held from April to early June, 2017, and has several updates in MPSC’s case, including info on how to send comments to MPSC.
  • Page 5 goes from mid-June to the presentation Bette Pierman organized, with Chris Williams from Vermont warning us about what to watch for when Palisades goes into its decommissioning phase.
  • Page 6 has an “Event Report” from Entergy two months after the fact, a very-next-day report from Kraig Schultz on the July 26 Palisades Open House, and more to come.
  • Page 7 starts with the August 17 report that Palisades fixed its tornado problem, explains MPSC’s ruling on Consumers’ plan to pay Entergy to cancel the final four years of their power purchase agreement, and ends with a September 26 news release about the ruling.
  • Page 8 picks up on September 28 with the announcement that Palisades won’t close in October 2018 as previously announced. More to follow.

See also our blog posts on Palisades and nuclear energy.

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