As reported by the St. Joe Herald-Palladium, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Office of Investigations (OI) has launced a special probe into the leakage of up to 31.4 gallons per day of acidic and radioactive water from the Safety Injection Refueling Water (SIRW) storage tank into the control room and auxiliary building of Entergy Nuclear's Palisades atomic reactor in Covert, MI on Lake Michigan's southeastern shoreline. WSJM radio reports that Palisades' PR spokesman Mark Savage denies any safety significance.
The Associated Press has also reported on this story. A Detroit News opinion column also comments on this story, including that "The tank was being refilled when, Tuesday night, new leaks appeared, and at 9 p.m., it was shut down." Entergy Nuclear appears to be in a hurry to re-start Palisades!
In addition, as the Kalamazoo Gazette reports, the NRC is demanding a copy from Entergy Nuclear of an internal survey of Palisades' workforce, revealing a complete collapse of safety culture at the atomic reactor, including fears of retaliation and harassment for questioning management decisions or raising safety concerns. As spelled out in its letter to Entergy, NRC defines safety culture as "the core values and behaviors resulting from a collective commitment by leaders and individuals to emphasize safety over competing goals to ensure protection of people and the environment."
Although a June 12th shutdown made the leak known to the public, it took U.S. Representative Ed Markey (D-MA), Ranking Democrat on the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee and a senior Democrat on the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee, writing NRC Chairman Greg Jaczko, to shed light on the safety significance of the leak. Markey was prompted to write NRC by a letter from Billie Garde, a D.C.-based attorney who has represented nuclear whistleblowers for decades. Garde's June 14th letter revealed that the leak had not only been going on for a full year, but involved leakage into the control room and auxiliary building.
Dave Lochbaum at UCS explains that, as shown by inleakage of radioactive water due to this leak, inleakage of radioactive air into the "Control Room Envelope" -- occupied by reactor operators and other personnel -- during an accident is also a concern.