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E-M:/ Release: Palisades Nuclear Critics Warn about Earthquake Risks

Date: Fri, 18 Apr 2008 13:57:22 -0400 (EDT)

Subject: Release: Palisades Nuclear Critics Warn about Earthquake Risks
From: "Kevin Kamps" <kevin@beyondnuclear.org>

News from Beyond Nuclear 
For Immediate Release, April 18, 2008
Contact: Kevin Kamps, Beyond Nuclear, (240) 462-3216
Alice Hirt, Don't Waste Michigan, (616) 335-3405 or (616) 218-6511
Palisades Nuclear Plant Watchdogs
Warn about Catastrophic Earthquake Risks
Covert, MI - Today's early morning 5.2 magnitude earthquake, originating in southeast Illinois but felt in southwest Michigan, revived concerns of atomic watchdog groups that a powerful enough earthquake jolting the Palisades atomic reactor site could spell radioactive catastrophe for Lake Michigan and communities downwind and downstream.

Due to the earthquake, Entergy Nuclear's Palisades atomic reactor reportedly declared an unusual event to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) at 6:03 a.m.

Two years ago, Don?t Waste Michigan and Nuclear Information and Resource Service filed an emergency enforcement petition against the NRC, alleging that the high-level radioactive waste storage facilities at Palisades, on the Lake Michigan shore near South Haven, violate governmental earthquake safety regulations. After NRC rejected the petition, the citizen groups appealed to the federal Circuit Court for the District of Columbia. Late last year, that court ruled against the citizens? appeal.

Palisades now has nearly three dozen concrete and steel silos holding deadly irradiated nuclear fuel rods. The silos, called dry casks, rest upon two concrete pads. The concrete slabs are located upon loose sand amidst the dunes of the Lake Michigan shoreline. Some containers of radioactive waste are just 150 yards from the water.

?This morning?s earthquake is yet another reminder that 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 to 320 times the long-lasting radioactivity released by the Hiroshima atomic bomb,? said Kevin Kamps of Beyond Nuclear, a national watchdog group. ?We must stop Palisades from generating any more of these forever deadly radioactive wastes, and safeguard and secure what?s already piled up on the beach against accidents, attacks, leaks, and even natural disasters such as earthquakes.?

?The NRC is ignoring the very serious risk that these slabs, and possibly even the casks, will shatter in the event of a powerful enough earthquake and release catastrophic amounts of radioactivity into Lake Michigan.? said the environmental coalition?s attorney, Terry Lodge of the Toledo Coalition for Safe Energy. ?Unfortunately, the Atomic Energy Act trumps all other laws, so the court ruled in favor of the NRC, allowing these risks to continue to be ignored,? he added.

The groups? expert witness, Dr. Ross Landsman, formerly served as NRC dry cask storage inspector at Palisades. He warned as early as 1994 that ?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 doesn?t realize the catastrophic consequences of their continued reliance on their current ideology.?

Nearly two hundred years ago, the impacts of the most powerful earthquakes in the recorded history of North America extended into southwest Michigan. Epicentered at New Madrid, Missouri, the series of quakes in 1811 and 1812 are estimated to have been around 8.0 magnitude. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the probability for an earthquake of magnitude 6.0 or greater in the New Madrid seismic zone is higher than 90% by the year 2045. The tremors from such a quake could extend into central Michigan.
Kevin Kamps
Radioactive Waste Watchdog
Beyond Nuclear
6930 Carroll Avenue, Suite 400
Takoma Park, Maryland 20912

Office phone: (301) 270-2209
Cell phone: (240) 462-3216
Fax: (301) 270-4000