Palisades Nuclear Plant In Michigan Shutdown After Another, Repeated Cooling System Failure
A notification of a nuclear event has been issued for the Palisades Nuclear Plant in Covert, Michigan.
Nuclear Event in USA on Saturday, 17 September, 2011 at 03:38 (03:38 AM) UTC.
The Palisades Nuclear Plant in southwestern Michigan has been shut down due to a loss of water in a cooling system. WWMT-TV reports the facility in Covert Township was shut down just before 3 p.m. Friday. The lowest of four emergency classification levels was declared. The classification means plant workers were notified and were resolving the problem. Officials say the shutdown poses no risk to the public and that no radioactive materials were released. A U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission inspection was held at the Van Buren County plant last month after a water pump component failed. The plant is owned by New Orleans-based Entergy Corp.
The Heral-Palladium provides more information on the event, reporting the shutdown was required because the cooling system was found leaking at a rate of more than 10 gallons per minute.
Water leak shuts down reactor
Palisades cooling system spewing more than 10 gallons a minute; radioactive material won’t leak into environment
Saturday, September 17, 2011 1:07 PM EDT
COVERT – The Palisades nuclear power plant was shut down Friday afternoon after a water leak of more than 10 gallons per minute was detected in the system that cools the plant’s nuclear reactor.
The plant was shut down shortly before 3 p.m. because the leak exceeded the plant’s technical specifications, spokesman Mark Savage said. The plant filed a notification of an “unusual event” with the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
The likely cause of the problem is a leak on a valve in the primary cooling system, but that won’t be known for certain until workers can get in and do a thorough evaluation, Savage said.
There is no estimate for when the plant will be back in operation, Savage said Friday afternoon.
While the news article above, along with just about every other news story about the current event, fail to mention the context of this shutdown, it is quite clear the plant has a history of repeated cooling failures.
In fact the latest shutdown at the plant, which has been operating since 1971, follows a failure in the cooling system just last month which was similar to 2009 failure of the same system.
Last months incident sparked a “special investigation”, which NRC officials said “is not normally done” but was being done in the this case due to “questions surrounding the incident.”
Michigan Live reports coupling pipes in the water pumps at the plant have initially been blamed for the on August 9th failure the Palisades Plant. NRC officials promised to release the results of that investigation within 45 days.
‘Special inspection’ ordered for Palisades nuclear plant after failure of coupling for cooling pipes
COVERT — The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has launched a “special inspection” into a service water pump component failure last week at Palisades nuclear power plant near South Haven.
The investigation announced Monday stems from an Aug. 9 failure of a coupling that holds pipes together. A similar failure happened in 2009.
“We need to look at what exactly failed,” said NRC spokeswoman Prema Chandrathil.
There are three pipes in total, and all three were operating at the time of the failure. Safety regulations require only one to be operable in case of an emergency, Chandrathil said.
The plant, owned by Louisiana-based company Entergy Corp., was operating under normal conditions when indicators in the control room showed a change in the flow of water from one of the three service pumps.
Staff at the plant stopped the pump, conducted an internal investigation and replaced all coupling components.
Such a special investigation by federal regulators “is not normally done,” Chandrathil said. “We have questions surrounding the incident,” she said of the NRC.
The three inspectors being sent to Palisades specialize in metals, material and pumps. They are in addition to the two NRC inspectors who work full-time at the plant.
Source: Michigan Live
Furthermore, according to the Michigan Live article, the NRC also reported concerns about neutron emissions at the plant in following the 2009 cooling system failure.
In 2009, Palisades had one finding of “low-to-moderate” concern about its spent fuel storage pool, “involving the degradation of neutron absorbing material in plates surrounding fuel assemblies,” the NRC reported. A year later, there were no findings of concern.
Potentially complicating matters even further is the Palisades Nuclear Plant was hit by the shock of last months’ 5.8 Virginia earthquake. Following that quake that rocked the entire eastern U.S. seaboard the plant reported feeling the quake and declared an unusual event. However, officials stated a post-quake inspection revealed no damage to the pipes and cooling systems .
South Haven nuclear plant feels impact of East Coast quake
Aug 23, 2011
South Haven, MI —
The Palisades Nuclear Plant near South Haven continues to operate at full power after feeling the effects of a 5.9 magnitude earthquake centered in Virginia. The plant was not damaged, a spokesman said.
The plant declared a Notification of Unusual Event, the lowest of four emergency classifications established by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said Mark Savage, spokesman for the plant, 27780 Blue Star Highway in Covert. The declaration means there is a problem that is being handled by plant workers and does not affect the public. The purpose of the declaration is to have the plant’s operating staff reach a state of readiness for emergency response if necessary.
Monitors detected a disturbance in tank levels — a ripple in the water, Savage said — and some employees felt the quake as well.
Source: The Holland Sentinel