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 now takes up nine pages.

Palisades chronology

  • 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 6: from mid July to the end of July, 2017

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 9 (more to come)

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.

See also our blog posts on Palisades and nuclear energy.

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