Congressman: NRC needs to get serious on Palisades

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Palisades Nuclear Power Plant

Congressman Fred Upton is demanding accountability and a permanent fix to the leaking tank at the Palisades Nuclear Power Plant on Lake Michigan, and says that he is “outraged” by the announced leak that escaped into the Great Lake over the weekend.  “This situation is not acceptable and demands full accountability,” Upton said in a Tuesday news release.

Upton, who chairs the House’s Energy and Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over domestic nuclear regulatory activities, further commented on the situation adding, “It is my understanding that the water tank will be emptied by the end of the week with the hope that the cause of the leak can be identified shortly thereafter.  Every option must be on the table – including a full replacement of the tank – to ensure that the continuing leak will not occur again.” Upton has announced plans to visit the plant with a board member from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in the near future.

The NRC is investigating why the leak rake suddenly increased from 5 gallons per day to over 90 gallons per day in the course of one 24-hour period, but the leaking tank cannot be fully inspected until all of the remaining water is drained.

While the only permanent and reliable fix is to replace the leaking tank, the utility, Entergy requests an alternative fix for the tank “that would add a fiberglass-reinforced vinyl ester liner to the tank bottom and to a portion of the tank wall in lieu of identifying the location of the thru-wallleak(s) and performing code compliant repairs.”

The proposed liner would be applied the bottom of the tank and two feet up the interior walls. The utility says it plans to install the liner in the fall during a scheduled refueling outage. “(The liner) will eliminate tank bottom leakage by forming a leak tight membrane on the tank bottom, isolating leak pathways. It will provide the required containment of the tank contents in lieu of relying on the existing aluminum tank bottom for this function. Further degradation of the welds in the current aluminum boundary is not expected based on ENO’s understanding of the cause of the leakage and the repairs that have been performed. If any further weld degradation were to occur, the degradation will not affect the lining since the lining will be a distinct and independent material. While bonded to the surface of the existing tank, the physical properties of the liner will prevent potential future weld degradation, if it were to occur, from propagating into and through the liner.”

Source: Michigan Radio

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  1. NRC is controlled by nuclear industry. NRC is rigorous only if they know their regulation is easy for industry. Together with industry, they introduced probabilistics methods to the nuclear regulation. By tuning inputs to their probabilisstics models, they can show whatever they want.

    Look at NEI 05-01 document ” Severe Accident Mitigation Alternatives” at NRC pages –
    Chapter 4.5 shows “their” estimate of cost of severe accident. Unbelievable that they still keep it as valid reference for utilities. One would anticipate that authors and those who approved such a nonsens loose their credibility.

  2. Thinking on this for awhile. Upton’s response struck me as odd for several reasons.

    All this time with serious nuclear power plant issues, for multiple years, (Hanford etc.) and Upton is just now feeling he needs to make noise?

    What is his motivation? Have people who contributed a lot of money developed cancer because they are down-winders? Relatives dying from radiation exposures? Did he have a revelation that his political career may be trashed if he doesn’t do a turn about?

    What is his deal?

    He seems to have a rather narrow scope considering all the failing/aging nuclear plants across the nation, serious breaches of security, employees failing sobriety tests, contraband found onsite, audits revealing mismanagement, malware threats… I could make a big list, but the point should be clear.

    He needs to reveal all of his cards and pay the same attention to San Onofre, Hanford, Indian Point, et al. as he is to Palisades.

  3. um… INPO is controlled by the NRC. At one point the NRC was getting out of the ‘Nuclear” biz altogether at least by proof of the decisions it made in the early 90/s. Hanford is a DOE/DOD site not controlled or regulated by the NRC and thusly Mr. Upton.

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