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The Palisades nuclear power plant is shut down. Officials at the plant removed it from service due to what is being described as a "small leak" in the plant's safety injection and refueling water tank. That tank holds as much as 300-thousand gallons of water that is used remove heat from the reactor's core in the event of a coolant accident and to increase "shutdown safety margin." It's not known how long the troubled facility will remain out of service. Palisades has been ranked by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission as one of the four worst nuclear plants in the nation.
The plant, though, is under investigation by a special unit of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that looks into possible wrong-doing and can make referrals to the Department of Justice. “There’s no green ooze in barrels. Homer Simpson does not work here,” Mark Savage, spokesman for the facility near South Haven, told the commissioners. “Safety at Palisades is never compromised. If there is a problem with the plant, we will shut the plant down and make repairs.”
NRC’s predecessor, the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, approved an operating license for Palisades in 1967. However, Consumers Power Company (later renamed Consumers Energy Company) sued the reactor’s design and construction firms over major flaws. Operations did not actually commence until 1971, after an out-of-court settlement provided Consumers Power monetary compensation, but required little to no rectification of the design and construction errors. Around a decade ago, taking advantage of the four year delay in start up, Consumers Energy persuaded NRC to interpret its original 40 year operating license as applying from 1971 to 2011, rather than from 1967 to 2007, in effect granting a four year extension. Despite an environmental intervention, in 2007 NRC granted a 20 year license extension at Palisades, allowing operations to continue from 2011 to 2031.
The NRC also issued a legal violation against Palisades earlier this month, separate from its performance reviews, after a supervisor walked off in anger from his job in the plant's control room in October 2010, without seeking permission to leave or asking anyone to take over his duties. The control room is the most sensitive area of the plant, overseeing the reactor's operation. Pederson said the company has promised corrective action and could yet be fined in that case.