COVERT TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — The Palisades Power Plant is officially shut down. In a news release, Entergy officials confirmed that a crew safely removed the final nuclear reactor from service on Friday.
The plant was slated to shut down at the end of the month. But according to the release, the decision was moved up to Friday out of an abundance of caution for the control rod drive seal.
The shutdown has been a long time coming, albeit a contentious one. The plan to shutdown the power plant was first announced in 2017 after the station’s contract with Consumers Energy expired.
But just last month, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer submitted a letter to the U.S. Department of Energy, asking them to step in and keep the plant open. The nuclear energy facility employs approximately 600 people and is a key player in the local economy.
Whitmer called on the Department of Energy to enroll Palisades into the Civil Nuclear Credit program, which aims to prevent the premature retirement of nuclear facilities that are still certified and operating safely.
And while nuclear energy is considered clean energy, it’s not considered the safest option. Michael Keegan, the co-chair of Don’t Waste Michigan, an environmental protection organization, told News 8 last month that he’s been fighting to shut down Palisades for nearly 40 years.
“The time is way overdue to shut it down. We have better, cheaper, reliable energy sources. We need to move to them,” Keegan told News 8 last month.
Even in the days before its shutdown, Palisades was ranked as one of the safest nuclear power plants in the world. According to Entergy, the facility generated electricity for the last 577 days — a world record for a plant of its size. That’s what Palisades Vice President Darrell Corbin will remember about the plant.
“The enduring legacy of Palisades is the thousands of men and women who safely, reliably and securely operated the plant, helping power Southwest Michigan homes and businesses for more than 50 years,” Corbin said in a release.
The plant is being sold to Holtec International to be decommissioned and remediated. Of the estimated 600 employees at the plant, Entergy says approximately 260 of them will stay on with Holtec to help with the decommissioning, 130 of them will move to a different facility, and the rest will leave the company — many choosing to retire.