COVERT TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) - Authorities say they've found the crack that led to "slightly radioactive water" spilling from the Palisades nuclear power plant into Lake Michigan.
The Covert Township plant was shut down May 5 after about 79 gallons of slightly radioactive spilled into a pond that flows into Lake Michigan. Nuclear Regulatory Commission officials said the water did not pose a public health risk. The leak was in a 300,000-gallon tank used to hold water that floods and cools the nuclear reactor during refueling and in the event of a problem.
The problem was a half-inch crack in the welding around one of nine nozzles in the tank, authorities said Monday. Three of those have been replaced and every weld and every nozzle is now being checked. The entire bottom of the tank is also being checked.
That leaky tank sits right above the plant's main control room. In the past year, it has accounted for one third of the plant's shutdowns:
- June 2012: Water tank leak
- August 2012: Rod housing leak
- November 2012: Steam leak
- November 2012: Valve leak
- February 2013: Tube leak
- May 2013: Water tank leak
The plant has shut down nine times since 2011.
Congressman Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph), the chair of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, toured the plant Monday afternoon. Upton said that the plant will remain offline until official are sure it is is safe.
"This issue rises above politics; as a community, the safety and effectiveness of this facility is important to us all," he said in a statement. "As this investigation continues, the NRC and Entergy have stated that Palisades will not go back online until they are certain it is safe and sound."
The NRC has identified the tank as one of the more serious concerns. There is talk of replacing the tank, which would be very expensive. There is no timeline for that happening.
"There will be no shortcuts," Upton said. "This must be done right. And the NRC must have all the tools in the toolbox available to make sure this happens."
The plant remains offline.
GRAM Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony in front of a festive downtown crowd at Rosa Parks Circle Friday night.
Two people were taken to the hospital after one vehicle crossed the center line, causing a head-on crash in Ada Township Friday night.
Police say snow made roads "treacherous" Sunday and urged people to stay home if possible.