« "Pilgrim nuclear station one step from shutdown: NRC downgrades plant to bottom of performance list" | Main | "Flaw Indications Found In RPV At Switzerland’s Beznau" »

Coalition defends hearing at Palisades, with help from allies

Attorney Terry Lodge, the environmental coalition's legal counselTerry Lodge, Toledo-based legal counsel for the environmental coalition (Beyond Nuclear, Don't Waste MI, MI Safe Energy Future, and Nuclear Energy Information Service) intervening against Entergy Nuclear's Palisades License Amendment Request (LAR), has filed a brief in defense of the coalition's hard-won hearing. The LAR, if approved by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), would allow Palisades to continue operating, despite loss of fracture toughness in its thermally stressed, neutron embrittled, age-degraded reactor pressure vessel (RPV) below safety screening criteria by Dec. 2016.

The coalition intervened on the matter on March 9, 2015. The NRC's Atomic Safety and Licensing Board Panel (ASLBP) ruled in the coalition's favor on June 18, 2015, granting an evidentiary hearing on the contention. Entergy appealed the ASLBP's ruling to the full NRC Commission on July 13, 2015. The coalition's rebuttal was filed on August 7, 2015.

On July 30, 2015, the Mayor Grand Rapids, MI -- George K. Heartwell -- wrote a letter to NRC's Chairman, Stephen Burns, urging that the hearing be allowed to proceed, and that physical safety tests be required to be conducted on the status of dangerous embrittlement of Palisades' age-degraded RPV. The southwestern section of Grand Rapids -- the biggest city in west MI -- is located within the 50-mile Emergency Planning Zone (EPZ) downwind of Palisades.

Entergy's Palisades atomic reactor in Covert, MI on the Lake Michigan shoreline, is immediately adjacent to the Palisades Park Country Club to the south, and Van Buren State Park to the north.On August 4, 2015, Brian Huffine, President of the Board of Directors of the Palisades Park Country Club, wrote to NRC Chairman Burns on behalf of the Board and members of the community. The more than century-old Palisades Park represents Entergy Palisades nuclear power plant's nearest neighbors, with 205 cottages located immediately next door to the south (just to the right of the mechanincal draft cooling towers shown in this photo on the left). He urged that physical tests of RPV capsule samples be conducted, in order to assure the safety integrity of the worst embrittled RPV in the U.S. The June 18 ASLBP ruling held in favor of considering the need for additional capsule tests at Palisades, before the next scheduled one in 2019.

On August 7, 2015, Wallace Taylor, an attorney representing the Sierra Club, filed a friend of the court brief in support of the ASLBP ruling granting the environmental coalition a hearing. The Sierra Club's Nuclear-Free Michigan, founded and chaired by Mark Muhich, has taken a very active interest in safety risks at Palisades.