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Wednesday
Jan072015

Cook nuclear plant leaks 2,000 gallons of oil into Lake Michigan over two month period

The twin-reactor Donald C. Cook nuclear power plant in Bridgman, MI on the Lake Michigan shoreline Nuclear power is "clean, carbon-free" energy? Hardly!

As reported by the Detroit Free Press on Jan. 3rd, and The Huffington Post on Jan. 7th, the twin-reactor Donald C. Cook nuclear power plant, owned by American Electric Power/Indiana-Michigan Power Company, leaked an estimated 2,000 gallons of oil into Lake Michigan, over the course of two months, before the leak was discovered and stopped.

Lake Michigan is a headwaters of the Great Lakes, which provide drinking water to 40 million North Americans in 8 U.S. states, 2 Canadian provinces, and a large number of Native American First Nations.

And, as reported by Climate Progress on Jan. 6, Entergy's Palisades -- just 30 miles north of Cook, also on the Lake Michigan shore -- recently leaked 80 gallons of oil on the beach, but claimed it didn't reach the lake.

Climate Progress also reported a scare at Cook just months ago, that 8,700 gallons of oil had leaked into Lake Michigan -- but American Electric Power later claimed a worker misread a guage, disavowing the oil leak had actually occurred.

And Climate Progress mentioned the fears swirling around Enbridge Canadian tar sands crude oil pipelines under Lakes Michigan and Huron at the Straits of Mackinac.

1.4 million gallons of Canadian tar sands crude leaked into the Kalamazoo River, upstream of Lake Michigan, in July 2010. Inside Climate News won the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting in 2013 for its coverage of the devastating impact of this largest ever inland oil spill in U.S. history.

A recent oil leak into Lake Michigan also occurred at a BP oil refinery in Whiting, IN.

The Detroit Free Press article quoted Michael Keegan of Coalition for a Nuclear-Free Great Lakes:

Michael Keegan, director of the nonprofit Coalition for a Nuclear-Free Great Lakes, is troubled by news of the leak.

"What's concerning is they don't really know the extent of the leak," he said. "Nearly two months later is the first determination they make that they have an oil leak? It speaks to the quality assurance of all of their other systems."

The fact that the oil is not recoverable is also problematic, Keegan said.

"There's a belief some have that the solution to pollution is dilution. It's not," he said.

From 1997 to 2000, both Cook units were shut down for major safety violations revealed by nuclear industry whistleblower Curtis Overall and David Lochbaum, Director, Nuclear Safety Program, Union of Concerned Scientists. A slogan developed in the nuclear power industry, of not wanting to get "Cooked" -- that is, busted by whistleblowers and nuclear safety advocates, forcing NRC to do its job.

An environmental coalition borrowed the phrase, and flew airplane banners over Cook, with holiday themes. For example, the Valentine's Day banner, complete with radiation symbols and hearts, read "Stop in the Name of Love! Don't Cook the Great Lakes!"