Please spread the word!
Update on Palisades nuclear power plant
March 24, 2006
Prepared by Kevin Kamps, Nuclear Waste Specialist at Nuclear Information
and Resource Service (NIRS) in Takoma Park, Maryland, and board member,
Don?t Waste Michigan, representing the Kalamazoo chapter.
Tuesday, April 4: press conference at 10:30 a.m. on the
steps of the State Capitol in Lansing
featuring Michigan Environmental Council, Sierra Club, NIRS, Don?t
Waste Michigan, and other groups opposing the 20 year license extension
(back-up location in case of inclement weather: rooms 402/403 in the
Wednesday, April 5: U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission meeting to
accept public comments on its Draft Environmental Impact Statement
regarding the Palisades license extension.
Two sessions: 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. and 7 to 10 p.m.
at Lake Michigan College, 125 Veterans Blvd., South
Please attend and make comments! Huge turn out needed!
(Street theater planned one hour prior to each session. Volunteers
Contact Kevin Kamps at NIRS for more information: office
301.270.6477x14; cell 240.462.3216. Also check out the new ?Palisades
Watch? website at
(Sample public comments, and how to submit them even if you can?t come to
the NRC meeting,
will be posted at this website in the near future.)
Dear Fellow Opponents to the 20 Year License Extension at Palisades
Nuclear Power Plant,
On March 7th, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission?s (NRC) Atomic
Safety (sic) and Licensing Board (ASLB) ruled against interveners
opposing the 20 year license extension at Palisades nuclear reactor in
Covert, MI. Although agreeing that embrittlement and pressurized thermal
shock (PTS) of the reactor pressure vessel is a ?very serious topic,? the
ASLB dismissed the contention on legalistic and bureaucratic
technicalities, denying a full hearing on the merits of the concern.
Terry Lodge of the Toledo Safe Energy Coalition, serving as attorney for
Don?t Waste Michigan, the Green Party of Van Buren County, Michigan Land
Trustees, Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS), West Michigan
Environmental Action Council, and over 50 concerned citizens within 50
miles of Palisades, filed an appeal of the ASLB ruling to the five member
NRC Commission on March 17th. See the ?Palisades Watch? website above for
links to documents related to the proceeding.
Given the ?perfect record? of the NRC for denying such appeals, however,
it seems to only be a matter of time before Palisades will mark the
38th straight application for a 20 year license extension
rubberstamped by the NRC over the past decade. For that reason, our
coalition is turning to Congress for action.
Thus, in response to the ASLB ruling, a dozen groups, including Michigan
Environmental Council (a coalition of over 70 organizations representing
over 200,000 Michigan residents), wrote to U.S. Senators Carl Levin and
Debbie Stabenow, urging them to launch a General Accounting Office
investigation on embrittlement/PTS, as well as on NRC inaction despite
the risk of embrittled reactor pressure vessels. Palisades? reactor
pressure vessel, one of the most embrittled in the country, could
fracture like a hot glass under cold water in an emergency. This could
lead to a melt down and catastrophic radiation release. NRC reported in
1982 that 11,000 deaths, 7,000 injuries, and $52 billion in property
damage (adjusted for inflation to 2005 dollars, that would top 100
billion) could result from a reactor accident at Palisades.
On March 18, the Detroit Free Press ran a front page article (see
) about another near-miss at Palisades. It took place last October, but
had been kept quiet by Consumers Energy and the government regulatory
agency, until Mike Keegan of Coalition for a Nuclear-Free Great Lakes
unearthed a recently released NRC inspection report. The report revealed
that last October, a container fully loaded with high-level radioactive
waste weighing 110 tons became stuck on a crane and dangled over the
irradiated fuel storage pool for 55 hours. Plant personnel, not
understanding the crane, mishandled the emergency brake during the
incident, risking a drop of the cask into the pool.
The heavy load crashing down could have severely damaged the pool,
draining the cooling water. The irradiated fuel would then have
overheated, and ignited. The resulting radioactive inferno engulfing
decades of accumulated high-level waste in the pool could have caused
fatal cancer in tens of thousands of people, as far as 500 miles
downwind. NIRS isn?t saying thisthe NRC is saying this, in its own
inspection reports and technical documents!
Despite its own documented conclusions to the contrary, NRC has dismissed
the Palisades cask dangle as of ?very low safety significance.? NRC
Midwest Region spokesman Jan Strasma said ??there was no threat to health
and safety.? A daily event report or notice of occurrence was never filed
by Palisades, nor required by NRC. Thus, this incident remained ?covert?
-- the very name of the town where Palisades is located ? for over five
months. Other than the citation in a quarterly inspection report, NRC
plans no fines or further regulatory enforcement actions against
Palisades in relation to the near-catastrophe.
The A.P. newswire version of the Detroit Free Press exposee was
picked up by several other newspapers across Michigan, such as in Grand
Rapids, Lansing, and Monroe. WWMT TV-3 in Kalamazoo carried a story
featuring Alice Hirt of Don?t Waste Michigan (see
The Kalamazoo Gazette ran an article on the cask dangle incident on March
NIRS will post a report, based upon its Freedom of Information Act
request to the NRC on the waste pool fire near-miss, within the next few
days. Watch for it at
On April 4, the coalition opposing the Palisades license extension will
hold a press conference at the Lansing State Capitol, calling for the
reactor?s closure at the end of its current operating license in 2011.
Please attend! Bring signs!
On April 5, NRC
will hold two public comment sessions in South Haven on its Environmental
Impact Statement (EIS) regarding running Palisades till 2031. A huge turn
out is needed! A cast of characters will be there for fun, humorous, but
pointed street theater before the official public comment periodwe need
volunteers to play different roles! The NRC?s ?License Renewal Generic
Environmental Impact Statement (NUREG-1437)? can be found online at
See Vol. 1, its Addendum, Vol. 2, as well as Supplement 27, specific to
To help prepare for delivering public comments in South Haven, or to send
them to NRC if you can?t make the meeting in person, watch the NIRS
?Palisades Watch? website for an analysis of the NRC?s EIS, as well as
for sample comments to consider as you compose your