COVERT TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — The Palisades nuclear power plant in Van Buren County has taken its nuclear reactor offline, shutting down earlier than the company expected.
A statement from plant owner Entergy says the decision was made out of an abundance of caution because of issues with a control rod drive seal.
The company had planned to shut down the reactor by the end of May.
Kevin Kamps, a radioactive waste specialist with Beyond Nuclear, supports the closure but said it should have happened years ago.
“Palisades is one of, was one of, the most dangerous atomic reactors in the country,” Kamps said.
The group has voiced concerns about equipment at the plant, which began commercial operation in 1971.
“Just a short list of Palisades’ major problems would include the most brittle reactor pressure vessel in the country, steam generators that have needed replacement for the second time in the plants history and a degraded lid that needed to be replaced 15 years ago,” Kamps said.
In a statement to News 8, Entergy says the 800-megawatt facility has been operating safely for more than 50 years.
“Entergy’s Palisades Power Plant permanently shut down on May 20. Operators made the conservative decision to take the unit off the grid earlier than originally planned due to the performance of a control rod drive seal, ending 51 years of providing safe, reliable, carbon-free energy to southwest Michigan.
“Thanks to the pride, professionalism, and hard work of our 600-member team, the plant finished strong. 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.
“The shutdown completes a remarkable operating history. The facility shut down after continuously generating electricity for 577 days since it was last refueled – a site and world record production run for a plant of its kind. Palisades remains ranked in the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s highest safety category and is regarded by its peers as one of the top performers in the industry.
“The Palisades sale will complete Entergy’s planned exit from the nuclear merchant power business, following the closure and sale of the Vermont Yankee, Pilgrim and Indian Point plants and the sale of the operating James A. Fitzpatrick plant.
“Following the safe removal of used fuel from the reactor, the facility will be transferred to Holtec International for purposes of a safe and timely decommissioning, under the terms of an agreement between Entergy and Holtec International.
“Entergy remains committed to its four nuclear plants in Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi. Clean, carbon-free nuclear energy is a key part of Entergy reaching its 2050 sustainability goals.”Entergy
Ed Rivet, the executive director of the Michigan Conservative Energy Forum, said nuclear can be safe and produce electricity without carbon emissions at the site.
The group supports Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s plan to keep the plant open.
“We’re going to need a lot of reliable energy and nuclear is consistent,” Rivet said. “It’s an extremely long shot now. There’s no question about that and if in the long term we can’t bring Palisades back online we should look at that location as an opportunity to bring new generational small modular reactors in onto that site.”