As announced by these fliers, the Union of Concerned Scientists' director of nuclear power safety, David Lochbaum, will speak in Kalamazoo, MI, at Western MI U., at noon time Eastern, and in South Haven at the Beach Haven Event Center (at 7 PM Eastern), about safety risks at the problem-plagued Palisades atomic reactor belonging to Entergy Nuclear, on Thursday, April 11th. Beyond Nuclear is proud and honored to be a co-sponsor of the events.
Lochbaum's new report, “Tolerating the Intolerable (Holes in the Nuclear Safety Net),” unfortunately, yet again this year, prominently features Palisades as having suffered one of the nearest-misses to disaster at U.S. atomic reactors in the past year.
Last year's report ("Living on Borrowed Time") documented 2 near-misses at Palisades alone, and a total of 5 at Entergy reactors (2 at Palisades, 2 at Pilgrim near Boston, and 1 at Cooper in Nebraska, operated by Entergy on behalf of owner Nebraska Public Power District). Thus, Entergy was responsible for a third of the near-misses in the U.S. that year.
Taken together, Palisades' three near-misses in just the past two years places it tied with Fort Calhoun, NE (with three near-misses), and just behind Wolf Creek, KS (with four near-misses), as the atomic reactors with the most near-misses in the past three years (since Lochbaum began publication of his annual NRC and nuclear power safety reports).
Lochbaum has long watch-dogged Palisades in particular, due to its uniquely bad (that is, risky) operational performance. For example, in July 2010, he wrote a report about Palisades' 40 years of control rod drive mechanism (CRDM) seal leaks: "Headaches at Palisades: Broken Seals and Failed Heals." His report included a CRDM through-wall leak at Palisades in 2001. His current annual report, mentioned above, highlights the significance of a 2012 CRDM through-wall leak at Palisades, the subject of an "All Things Nuclear" blog Lochbaum wrote last December, "Palisades reprises Davis-Besse," referring to the Hole-in-the-Head, reactor lid corrosion fiasco of 2002 at a reactor near Toledo, which the U.S. Government Accountability Office has reported as the most infamous nuclear safety incident in the U.S. since the Three Mile Island meltdown 34 years ago.
As reported by WWMT TV (CBS, Kalamazoo), "[Nuclear] Power plant safety remains a hot topic along the lakeshore...The director of the Union of Concerned Scientists' Nuclear Safety Project is in town, and he is expected to discuss repeated safety violations and recent shut-downs at Palisades in Covert Township."
WOOD TV (NBC, Grand Rapids) reported on Lochbaum's presentations, focusing on his warnings about the risks of fire at both Entergy's Palisades and American Electric Power's Cook nuclear power plants in southwest MI.
Referring to NRC fire safety regulations set in 2004, but still not met at Palisades, Lochbaum stated in an interview with the Kalamazoo Gazette/MLive:
"Fire hazard is 50 percent of the risk [of reactor core damage]. It's equal to all other threats combined. That assumes you meet the rules. It's almost nine years after those rules, and we're still not there...The NRC should not be enabling that heightened risk."
In 2008, Lochbaum, along with Beyond Nuclear's Paul Gunter as well as NC WARN's Jim Warren, co-authored a report entitled "Fire When NOT Ready" -- sub-titled "A Report on a Primary Threat of Reactor Core Meltdown -- Fire -- and the Unaccetable Efforts by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to Protect Americans from this Known Hazard."
MI Radio also covered Lochbaum's visit, quoting him about the August 2012 near-miss cited in UCS's annual nuclear power safety report, the primary coolant through-wall leak from the control rod drive mechanism housing:
“If I took the speedometer out of my car and went down the road at a hundred miles an hour and get pulled over by a traffic cop I can’t say, ‘well look officer, I didn’t know I was exceeding, I don’t have a speedometer.”
Lochbaum was referring to the fact that Palisades lacks the real time monitoring systems with which to detect pressure boundary leaks, which by NRC regulation require reactor shutdown within 6 hours. Entergy continued running the reactor for 4 weeks. Lochbaum points out that, at $140,000 per day, NRC could fine Entergy nearly $4 million for last summer's near-miss. Thus far, NRC hasn't fined Entergy a penny.
"Lochbaum says the NRC has set the safety bar, but has allowed plants like Palisades to limbo beneath that."
Lochbaum told WMUK that Palisades has not met NRC fire safety regulations in over 30 years, and that even post-Fukushima "lessons learned" safety upgrades are currently mere "IOUs," protecting no one unless actually implemented.
The Sandusky Register has also reported on Dave Lochbaum's presentation about Davis-Besse during his visit to Toledo.