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 six pages. Page 1 picks up in mid-July and goes to mid-January.
- 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” and the July 26 Open House, with more to come.
- 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.
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.
Our Palisades Chronology begins in July, 2016 – a month before Entergy named a new boss at Palisades.
Kalamazoo’s WWMT TV Channel 3 reports that “several” security officers are on paid leave as Palisades investigates “anomalies” – more specifically, falsified reporting. Following up on an anonymous tip from a Palisades employee, WWMT learned that the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is “closely monitoring the plant’s investigation as well as the plant’s response to the situation.” When a WWMT reporter asked why the public had not been notified of the investigation, an NRC spokesperson “said the commission had no obligation to notify media.”
The “several” security staffers on paid administrative leave turns out to be 22 officers – including the anonymous tipster – as the remaining guards work 75-hour weeks. The FBI is now involved in the investigation, according to this report from Beyond Nuclear.
According to an update from WWMT Channel 3, “Palisades officials first became aware of the fire tour anomalies in early June.” NRC officials failed to mention this investigation in their June 23 Palisades review.
WWMT Channel 3 says the security officers’ union at Palisades will file a grievance if its officers face discipline. The grievance will cite “no set guidelines” and a lack of training. A Palisades spokesperson says “most” of the officers on paid leave have returned to work.
News Talk Radio 94.9 WSJM in Benton Harbor has learned that Entergy Vice President Anthony Vitale, who’s been in charge at Palisades since 2011, has been transferred to a different Entergy nuclear plant. The new chief, Charles Arnone, has twice been in charge of safety assurance at Palisades.
Maybe false, inaccurate, and delayed reporting is standard procedure for Entergy. An Entergy report correcting a false report was also false, according to Ed Bradley, Plymouth, Massachusets, Fire Chief. Bradley said that several other communications from Entergy about “odd events” at its Pilgrim nuclear plant also have been late, false, or both. Last May, Entergy was charged with submitting false reports about its Vermont Yankee plant. Here in Southwest Michigan, the investigation into false reporting at Entergy’s Palisades plant, which began in early June, was not mentioned during a June 23 NRC Palisades review. It remained unreported to the public until July 8 when a whistleblower approached WWMT Channel 3 in Kalamazoo.
Entergy and Consumers say Palisades will close permanently October 1, 2018, according to news releases Thursday morning, December 8. Entergy Nuclear is the corporate owner-operator of Palisades. Consumers Energy is the plant’s only customer. MLive published Entergy’s news release and followed up with a more detailed report. WOOD-TV 8 reported that “the age of nuclear power in Michigan appears to be coming to a close.” The purchase agreement was originally planned to last through 2022. In 2011, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission granted Palisades a license renewal that allowed the 45-year-old, dangerously embrittled plant to operate until 2031.
- “Permanent Palisades Shut Down Announcement: For anti-nuke activists, a celebration. Then what?“
- Midwest Energy News calls a Palisades bailout unlikely.
Consumers submits a 99-page response to MPSC’s questions.
The Executive Committee of Sierra Club Southwest Michigan Group adopts a resolution supporting the shutdown. The resolution calls for Palisades’ closure and decommissioning to “proceed on schedule.” It also insists that “local, state, and national officials and legislators must neither offer nor consider providing financial assistance…to keep Palisades operating or to cover decommissioning and extended security costs.” As SWMG’s news release says, “No bailout for failure.” The resolution also calls for special consideration for workers left unemployed by the shutdown.
End of Palisades Chronology, Page 1
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.