U.S. House Energy and Commerce Chairman Upton "outraged" at latest Palisades leak, calls for safety water storage tank's replacement
Beyond Nuclear shares U.S. Representative Fred Upton's (R-MI, photo left) "outrage" at Entergy Palisades' latest leak -- of reportedly 79 gallons of radioactive water into Lake Michigan. However, Rep. Upton's call for the mere consideration of replacing the age-degraded Safety Injection Refueling Water (SIRW) storage tank does not go far enough. The leaky tank should absolutely be required to be replaced before reactor re-start is allowed.
Of course, Entergy should think long and hard about whether replacing the SIRW storage tank is even worth the bother. Palisades has a large number of big ticket safety repairs that are now many years overdue: the worst embrittled reactor pressure vessel in the U.S.; steam generators that need replacement for the second time in the reactor's history; a badly corroded reactor lid that is six years overdue for replacement; and long-needed fire safety upgrades. That long list of very expensive needed fixes for fatal flaws has been known since 2006, but the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has allowed Palisades to operate full steam ahead, with no fixes in sight.
To that long list must now be added replacement of the SIRW storage tank; addressing repeated failures (2009; 2011; 2012) of the safety-significant component cooling water and service water systems; concerns about corrosion to electrical circuitry and equipment in the safety critical control room, which has been exposed to leaks from the SIRW storage tank, through the ceiling, being captured in buckets and plastic bottles, for over two years now; and a 41-year history of chronic Control Rod Drive Mechanism (CRDM) seal leaks, as well as CRDM through-wall leaks in 2001 and 2012. The list of problems at Palisades grows ever longer, as the potentially catastrophic age-degradation risks mount. The 46-year-old atomic reactor is very deep into its breakdown phase, and should be shutdown, before it melts down.
Upton chairs the powerful U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee, with direct oversight of the NRC. Upton's pledge to visit Palisades, along with an NRC Commissioner, would mark the third tour of the problem-plagued Palisades atomic reactor in a year by an NRC Commissioner. NRC Chairman Greg Jaczko toured Palisades on May 25, 2012 -- although the already year-long SIRW storage tank leak into Palisades' control room was concealed from him at the time, by both Entergy and NRC staff (it was brought to light by courageous Palisades' whistleblowers, their attorney Billie Pirner Garde of Washington, D.C., and U.S. Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA)). On March 26, 2013, NRC Commissioner William Magwood IV also toured Palisades. Both Jackzo and Magwood met with dozens of concerned local residents, and environmental group representatives, including from Beyond Nuclear, during their personal fact-finding trips to Palisades.