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E-M:/ Update on Palisades nuclear power plant

From: "Kevin Kamps" <kevin@nirs.org>
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.
Action Alert!
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 at Palisades
(back-up location in case of inclement weather: rooms 402/403 in the Capitol
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 Haven
Please attend and make comments! Huge turn out needed!
(Street theater planned one hour prior to each session. Volunteers needed!)
 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 http://www.nirs.org/reactorwatch/licensing/palisades.htm.
(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.)
Recent Developments 
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 http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060318/NEWS06/603180315 ) 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 http://www.wwmt.com/engine.pl?station=wwmt&id=24776&template=pagesearch.html ).
The Kalamazoo Gazette ran an article on the cask dangle incident on March 22nd. See http://www.mlive.com/search/index.ssf?/base/news-16/114304441099580.xml?kzgazette?NEKP&coll=7 .
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 http://www.nirs.org/reactorwatch/licensing/palisades.htm.
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 http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/nuregs/staff/sr1437/ See Vol. 1, its Addendum, Vol. 2, as well as Supplement 27, specific to Palisades.

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 own.

See the Action Alert at the top of this email for times and locations for the press conference and NRC public comment meeting.
Please spread the word, and come if you can! We need to build the momentum to close Palisades by 2011!
Thank you to everyone for all your efforts to stop the Palisades 20 year license extension. Despite our loss at the Atomic Safety (sic) and Licensing Board, we have just begun to fight!
Contact Kevin Kamps at NIRS for more information: phone 301.270.6477x14. See the new ?Palisades Watch? website at http://www.nirs.org/reactorwatch/licensing/palisades.htm for more information on the effort to stop the 20 year license extension.