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