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Palisades & Davis-Besse among most at risk reactors in U.S. for near-term shutdown

Palisades and Davis-Besse are amongst the oldest, most risky, and most likely to permanently shutdown in the near-term of the three dozen atomic reactors located on the U.S. and Canadian shores of the Great Lakes (link to a copy of this map in the text)Michigan Radio has reported on both Entergy's Pailsades (Covert, MI) and FirstEnergy's Davis-Besse (Oak Harbor, OH) being on the short list of most likely near-term reactor shutdowns. Beyond Nuclear works in coalition with grassroots environmental allies, pressuring for the shutdown of both of these problem-plagued Great Lakes reactors, perched on the shores of the drinking water supply for 40 million people in 8 U.S. states, 2 Canadian provinces, and a large number of Native American First Nations. Great Lakes United (GLU) and the International Institute for Concern on Public Health just updated the Great Lakes Region Nuclear Hot Spots map, showing the location for all atomic reactors and other nuclear facilities in the basin.

As reported by the Kalamazoo Gazette, "In the study, Cooper cited local opposition as a particularly intense challenge facing the Palisades reactor." Beyond Nuclear has worked closely with grassroots groups like Don't Waste Michigan and Michigan Safe Energy Future, as well as concerned local residents, to shutdown Palisades before it melts down.

Beyond Nuclear issued a press statement, naming the "multiple safety risks" and "impending repair(s)" contributing to the likelihood that Palisades will close in the near-term: "As Entergy's own CEO, Leo Denault, admitted last February, Palisades' long overdue, costly, major safety repairs are now finally catching up to it. The high costs of dealing with the most embrittled reactor pressure vessel in the country, of replacing the steam generators for the second time in the plant's history, of replacing the badly corroded reactor lid, of dealing with 41 years of control rod drive mechanism (CRDM) seal leaks and 12 years of CRDM through-wall leaks, of dealing with repeated service water system leaks and breakdowns -- the most recent on July 10th -- and of plugging Safety Injection Refueling Water Tank leaks and spills, means that Palisades' days are numbered. Palisades must be shutdown, before it melts down."

The public found out about that July 10th leak at Palisades on a July 16 NRC Webinar (see NRC's slide #14). Members of the public, including Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps, asked NRC staff many questions, but only a few were even addressed at all in the arbitrarily short (one hour) Webinar, with no opportunity for cross examination or rebuttal to NRC's often woefully inadequate and even deceptive "answers." A local resident expressed the mistrust felt by many in a Michigan Radio commentary.  Michigan Radio also reported from the Webinar that it will take months to determine if Palisades' early May SIRWT leak represented a violation requiring enforcement action. (Enforcement action has not been taken about a July-August leak of primary coolant water which should have required reactor shutdown within 6 hours. Palisades continued to operate for an entire month. UCS's Dave Lochbaum points out that NRC could fine $140,000 per day for that month-long violation. So far, however, NRC has not fined Entergy a single penny.)

The Holland Sentinel, quoting NRC resident inspector Tom Taylor, reports that the service water system leak is ongoing, and also that radioactive tritium was detected on the beach at the Lake Michigan shoreline, on Palisades' property. (Although signs warn beachgoers at the adjacent Van Buren State Park to the immediate north that security guards at Palisades have authority to use deadly force, there are no physical barriers to prevent unsuspecting persons from walking onto the radioactive sand. And this was the fifth Webinar since October 2012, not the third.)

The Toledo Blade has reported on Cooper's inclusion of Davis-Besse in his list of 12 most likely reactors to shutdown in the near-term. So have the News Messenger, as well as the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Beyond Nuclear, along with coalitions of environmental allies, has challenged Davis-Besse's proposed 20-year license extension from 2017 to 2037, and has challenged FirstEnergy's San Onofre-like shortcuts on safety regarding its proposed 2014 steam generator replacements.