Palisades springs yet another leak into the control room: Failure of moisture barrier violates agreement with NRC
Beyond Nuclear and Michigan Safe Energy Future--Shoreline Chapter issued a media release on June 6th upon learning of yet another leak into Entergy Nuclear's Palisades atomic reactor control room (see image, left). The leakage has been a recurring problem for over two years now.
Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps stated: “When I raised the SIRWT [Safety Injection Refueling Water Tank] leak into the control room at Entergy’s public open house in South Haven on May 14th, and on an NRC [U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission] Webinar May 23rd, I was told by company and agency spokespeople that that issue was a thing of the past, that an installed moisture barrier had taken care of the problem. But as William Faulkner famously said, ‘The past is never dead. It's not even past.’ If Palisades can’t even prevent basic leakage through the ceiling of the control room, which has now been going on for over two years, what does that say about its reactor and radioactive waste safeguards? Entergy’s use of buckets, tarps, and ineffective sealant against this leak into the safety-critical control room begs the question, is it prepared to prevent large-scale radioactivity releases into the environment from a long list of severely age-degraded, critical safety systems, structures, and components?”
The leak, which was detected on June 3rd, was made known to the public in an NRC document released on June 6th.
Lindsey Smith at Michigan Radio has reported on this story, including the fact that the sand bed region, an integral componet of the SIRWT structure, was never put in place 40 years ago. Blueprints at Palisades were never updated to document this fact. Thus Entergy's and NRC's assumption, that ongoing leaks from the SIRWT even after repairs had been made last summer were coming from the sand bed region, were erroneous and based upon a phantom architectural feature that in fact did not even exist.
"A new leak at Palisades has led Entergy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to the discovery of a design flaw at the nuclear plant. Consumers Energy did not put the water tank, which is now being repaired, on a grout ring as the original blueprints indicated, and the NRC says Palisades and Entergy are working to fix that with new fiberboard and reinforced concrete..."
Entergy is aiming to restart Palisades by late spring/early summer.
[Entergy] Communications Specialist Lindsay Rose issued a statement, saying, "The discovery of a lack of sandbed refers to Palisades Safety Injection Refueling Water (SIRW) tank, not the control room. We are currently undergoing work in the SIRW tank to replace the tank’s aluminum flooring and sub-flooring. When we removed the pre-existing aluminum floor plates, the condition of the subflooring was not as we had expected. It became apparent that the sand subflooring had not been installed many years ago as we had thought. We have subsequently installed fiberboard subflooring that has asphalt embedded to provide a more robust and reliable system to support the aluminum floor...".