The Palisades nuclear power plant is six miles south of South Haven on the shore of Lake Michigan.
The plant had five unplanned shutdowns last year. Four of those were unplanned reactor shutdowns. The fifth was a problem with the plant’s water pumps that did not affect the reactor.
Viktoria Mitlyng is a spokesperson with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. She says the Palisades plant is under scrutiny.
“There are so many issues in one year that have come up, you know, there’s certainly a concern. And we recognize that as a regulatory agency and are keeping a very close eye at what’s happening at the plant.”
The NRC has just issued a violation notice to the company that owns the Palisades plant - Entergy Nuclear Operations, Inc. - for a separate incident that happened in May. A water pump at the plant failed - and regulators concluded that’s because one of the components was lubricated when it shouldn’t have been.
NRC says violation is of "low to moderate significance"
The NRC says this violation falls into a risk category of "low to moderate significance." But there’s a regulatory hearing expected next week to address two additional safety issues – one of which is what the NRC calls substantial safety significance.
That’s a much bigger deal than the water pump investigation finalized this week. In the more serious situation, the plant was offline for about a week last September because of a power outage. An electrical circuit at the plant broke when a worker was doing routine maintenance. The worker did not follow procedures for doing the work. When Lindsey Smith talked to NRC spokeswoman Viktoria Mitlyng in November, she said the worker had actually gotten permission from his managers not to follow procedures.
“Nobody stopped in their tracks and said 'hey, what are we doing here? We need to rethink this.'”