Nuclear Regulatory Chair Hears Concerns About Plants in West Michigan

Posted at 5:46 PM, Jun 05, 2014
and last updated 2014-06-05 20:43:48-04

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. (June 5, 2014) – A group of concerned citizens and environmental groups met today with the chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to discuss two plants in west Michigan.

The closed-door meeting was held at the Courtyard Marriott in Benton Harbor with Chairman Allison MacFarlane.

The conversation focused on the Donald C. Cook site in Bridgman and the Palisades Plant in Covert Township.

Palisades has been in the spotlight since its 2007 purchase by Entergy because of several problems.

Bette Pierman, a Democratic candidate for Michigan’s 21st District Senate seat, told FOX 17 she had concerns about the Palisades facility.

“There are failing infrastructure problems right now,” said Pierman. “There’s leaks that have been going on. Some of them since 2007 – recorded and reported.”

The most recent reported leak at the plant involved 70 gallons of oil, which officials said did not pose a threat to any bodies of water.

During a planned refueling outage between January and March, workers discovered a piece of metal – an impeller blade – lodged in a reactor vessel. It was determined the object wasn’t a hazard.

“That’s not the issue,” Pierman said. “The issue is that they’ve got failing equipment that continues to fail and they’re not taking care of the problem.”

Nuclear power is considered a clean energy, with greenhouse gas emissions on par with energies like solar, hydroelectric and wind.

With more than half a dozen leaks at the Palisades plant since 2012, people like Kraig Schultz, with Michigan Safe Energy Future, are raising concerns about safety and what would happen in an emergency.

“It’s not an option for any of our nuclear power plants to fail,” Schultz said. “The consequences of a disaster on U.S. soil is something we cannot allow to happen.”

While the NRC declined an on-camera interview on Thursday, Rep. Fred Upton and MacFarlane will be touring the Palisades plant before answering questions from the media on Friday.