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E-M:/ News release: Citizen Groups Appeal to Federal Court against Palisades Nuclear Plant


June 28, 2007
Kevin Kamps
, Nuclear Information and Resource Service, (301) 270-6477 ext. 14, cell (240) 462-3216
Alice Hirt, Don?t Waste Michigan, (616) 335-3405, cell (616) 218-6511
Citizen Groups Appeal to Federal Court against Palisades Nuclear Plant
Charge High-Level Radioactive Waste Storage Violates Safety Regulations
Washington, D.C.­Atomic watchdog groups Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS) and Don?t Waste Michigan have filed an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit alleging that the high-level radioactive waste dry cask storage pads at Palisades Nuclear Power Plant near South Haven violate U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) earthquake safety regulations. The three-foot thick concrete pads rest upon loose sand amidst the dunes of the Lake Michigan shoreline, with some containers of irradiated nuclear fuel just 150 yards from the water. This lawsuit marks the 15th continuous year of grassroots citizen resistance against the risks of radioactive waste generation and storage at Palisades.
The groups have exhausted all administrative remedies at NRC, and thus have turned to the federal courts for relief. They are represented, pro bono, by Toledo attorney Terry Lodge. Dr. Ross Landsman, a former NRC Midwest regional dry cask storage inspector, serves as their expert witness.
            Dr. Landsman first warned NRC about the risks of earthquakes at Palisades in 1994. He wrote to the NRC chairman at the time:
?Actually, it?s the consequences that might occur from an earthquake that I?m concerned about. The casks can either fall into Lake Michigan or be buried in the loose sand because of liquefaction?It is apparent to me that [NRC?s Nuclear Materials Safety and Safeguards division] doesn?t realize the catastrophic consequences of their continued reliance on their current ideology.?
            Despite repeating his warnings at every opportunity while employed at NRC, Dr. Landsman?s official risk assessments were consistently ignored by his superiors until he retired over a decade later in 2005.
            Palisades? two pads now hold over 30 concrete and steel casks, each weighing around 150 tons when fully loaded with irradiated nuclear fuel rod assemblies. The pads were built on sand dunes despite reports by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Michigan Department of Natural Resources that the location was a high-risk erosion zone.
?Palisades? older dry cask pad violates the liquefaction section of NRC?s earthquake safety regulations, while its newer pad violates the amplification section,? said Dr. Landsman.
?Underwater submersion could lead to inadvertent nuclear chain reactions in the fissile materials still present in the wastes,? said Kevin Kamps, nuclear waste specialist at NIRS. ?Burial under sand could cause the wastes to dangerously overheat. Either way, a disastrous radioactivity release could result.?
?Palisades? mounting radioactive wastes put our precious Lake Michigan at risk, and thus the drinking water supply and recreational destination for millions of people downstream,? said Alice Hirt of Don?t Waste Michigan in Holland.
?Each of the casks contains 240 times the long-lasting radioactivity released by the Hiroshima atomic bomb,? said Kamps. ?The only solution to the radioactive waste problem is to stop making it in the first place, so Palisades should be shut down for good.?
?There will be a multitude of high ticket and absolutely necessary remedial actions required at Palisades,?
said Michael Keegan of Coalition for a Nuclear-Free Great Lakes in Monroe. ?When push comes to shove, and we will, this beleaguered plant will collapse in economic ruin. Our role has been to prevent environmental ruin.?
For more information on concerned citizen efforts to address radioactive waste generation and storage risks at Palisades, including Dr. Landsman?s 1994 letter to NRC?s chairman, see http://www.nirs.org/reactorwatch/licensing/palisades.htm