KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) - A nuclear safety expert says two West Michigan nuclear power plants don't meet fire safety requirements.
David Lochbaum has worked in the nuclear industry and for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and is trying to put pressure on the regulators to enforce a safety standard that has been on the books since 1980.
Lochbaum with The Union of Concerned Scientists was at Western Michigan University and at an event in South Haven Thursday, where he said neither the Palisades near South Haven nor the DC Cook plant in Bridgeman meet the fire safety standard.
He said that standard was put into place after a fire in 1975 at the Brown's Ferry nuclear plant in Alabama that nearly caused a dangerous meltdown.
He said there are a number of possible fixes, such as moving equipment so that a fire can't take out primary and backup pumps that in emergencies cool the reactor core.
But those fixes are expensive, he said, and the NRC keeps granting more time to some 50 plants around the country that still don't meet the fire safety standard.
"For example, in the room right beneath the control room, all the cables that connect the controls and the control room to equipment throughout the plant go through that room as they go down though the control room, through the floor and out," Lochbaum said. "If a fire starts in that room, the fact that you have a thousand pumps on the plant doesn't do you much good if you can't turn any of them on."
Palisades officials said in a statement that the plant is participating in a voluntary program by transitioning to the NRC's fire safety code safety guidelines and that the transition is underway.
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