On June 22nd, U.S. Representative Ed Markey (D-MA), Ranking Democrat on the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee, issued a media release regarding a letter he had written to U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Chairman Greg Jaczko with deep concerns about the situation at Entergy's Palisades atomic reactor in Covert, MI on the Lake Michigan shoreline. Markey's letter was prompted by a June 14 letter (attached to his letter to Chairman Jaczko) by D.C.-based attorney Billie Garde, who has long worked with nuclear whistle blowers. Garde's letter revealed that a radioactive water leak has been ongoing in the Palisades control room for a year; "catch basins" are used to collect the radioactive water leakage, although it is unclear how the radioactive water is disposed of after it is collected.
Garde also revealed a total collapse in "Safety Culture" at Palisades: most workers fear retaliation if they question management decisions. Less severe Safety Culture collapse at Millstone nuclear power plant in Connecticut led to its shutdown by NRC in 1996, according to Garde.
Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps and a coalition of two dozen environmental allies and concerned citizens met with NRC Chairman Jaczko on May 25th after he toured the problem-plagued Palisades atomic reactor. On June 12th, the radioactive water leakage surpassed 31.4 gallons per day, at which point Palisades shut down and the problem was first revealed to the public. However, Garde's letter revealed that the leakage had already been occuring at a rate of 15 to 20 gallons per day, for many months on end.
The coalition wrote Jaczko on June 14, asking if he had not known about the leak, or had known but failed to tell the public about it on May 25.
On June 27th, Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps published a media statement in response to Congressman Markey's revelations.
In August, NRC Chairwoman Allison Macfarlane responded to Congressman Markey's questions with a cover letter, Responses to Information Requests, and an Executive Summary from Palisades' safety culture assessment. Of note, in the Response to Information Requests at page 1, NRC Chairwoman Macfarlane states "the licensee cannot exclude the possibility that the tank is leaking from a structural defect," and that Entergy justifies continued use of the tank under standards for the "Temporary Acceptance of Degradation," although temporary appears to be indefinite, for no further repair or replacement is spelled out. The safety culture assessment executive summary noted a "repeated emphasis of production over safety" at Palisades, a key factor in FirstEnergy's Davis-Besse Hole-in-the-Head fiasco in 2002, the most infamous nuclear safely lapse in the U.S. since the 1979 Three Mile Island meltdown, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office.