Michigan’s Palisades nuke plant on watch for earthquake damage
The earthquake that hit Virginia and much of the east coast yesterday was felt at Michigan’s Palisades nuclear power plant, where a federal regulator has warned that the spent fuel storage is vulnerable to damage from quakes.
The 5.9 magnitude quake was centered few miles from Dominion’s North Anna nuclear power plant in Lousia County, Virginia. The reactors there were forced into a hot shutdown after the plant lost electricity, officials said, and diesel powered back-up generators functioned to cool the reactors and spent fuel pools until power was restored. It is not yet clear what physical damage the plant may have sustained.
Entergy’s 40-year old Palisades plant on Lake Michigan near South Haven was among at least a dozen nuclear power plants that notified the Nuclear Regulatory Commission of “unusual events” related to the quake.
Officials at Palisades are inspecting the plant’s systems to determine whether they have been affected by the tremor.
For the last 18 years environmental groups in Michigan have been warning that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has weakened or ignored safety rules in order to allow Palisades to keep operating.
In Sept. 2005, as part of the regimenting process at Palisades, Ross Landsman, a retired NRC Nuclear Safety Engineer and Palisades Dry Cask Storage Inspector, testified that the pads where Palisades stores casks of spent fuel rest on top of sand and would not be stable in the event of an earthquake.