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Wednesday
Jan212015

Coalition presses challenge against Palisades' dangerously embrittled RPV

Entergy's Palisades atomic reactor is located on the Lake Michigan shoreline in Covert, MI. The Great Lakes serve as drinking water for 40 million North Americans in 8 U.S. states, 2 Canadian provinces, and a large number of Native American First Nations.An environmental coalition, including Beyond Nuclear, Don't Waste MI, Michigan Safe Energy Future, and Nuclear Energy Information Service of IL, has pressed its legal challenge against Entergy Nuclear's Palisades atomic reactor (photo, left). The coalition, represented by Toledo-based attorney Terry Lodge, and Vermont-based expert witness Arnie Gundersen (Chief Engineer, Fairewinds Associates, Inc.), filed a Combined Reply on Jan. 20, to Answers filed by Entergy and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) staff on Jan. 12.

Entergy submitted a License Amendment Request to NRC on July 29, seeking -- yet again -- to weaken safety standards against Pressurized Thermal Shock (PTS). Palisades has the worst embrittled reactor pressure vessel (RPV) in the U.S., an affliction suffered by all U.S. pressurized water reactors, to a greater or lesser extent. The coalition intervened against the regulatory rollback on Dec. 1.

On Dec. 23, Fairewinds Energy Education published a video about PTS risks at Palisades, entitled "Nuclear Crack Down?", featuring Arnie Gundersen.

From 2005 to 2007, a broad Great Lakes environmental coalition resisted the 20-year license extension at Palisades. Its top safety concern was PTS. NRC rubberstamped the extension nonetheless, approving operations till 2031. Palisades has violated NRC PTS safety standards for decades, but each time, NRC simply weakens its regulations to accommodate Palisades, and enable its ongoing, catastrophically risky operations.

Like a hot glass under cold water (albeit a hot glass under a ton of pressure per square inch!), Palisades' neutron-embrittled RPV could fracture if the Emergency Core Cooling System ever pumps cold water onto the hot metal. This would lead to a Loss of Coolant Accident, and likely core meltdown. If containment were to be breached, as at Fukushima Daiichi, a catastrophic release of hazardous radioactivity would follow.