News from Beyond Nuclear, For Immediate Release
Contacts: Kevin Kamps, Beyond Nuclear, firstname.lastname@example.org, (240) 462-3216;
Michael Keegan, Coalition for a Nuclear-Free Great Lakes and Don’t Waste Michigan, email@example.com, (734) 770-1441;
Diane D’Arrigo, Nuclear Information and Resource Service, firstname.lastname@example.org, (301) 270-6477 ext. 3,;
Terry Lodge, environmental coalition legal counsel, email@example.com, (419) 205-7084
Iris Potter, Michigan Safe Energy Future-Kalamazoo Chapter, firstname.lastname@example.org, (269) 271-4342
Environmental Coalition to Governor Whitmer: “Cease and Desist” from Massive Bailout Scheme at Palisades “Zombie” Atomic Reactor
Restarting Dangerously Age-Degraded Nuke Would Risk Health, Safety, Security, and Environment, Watch-Dogs Warn
COVERT TWP., MI & WASHINGTON, D.C., June 10, 2022—A coalition of 94 organizations, including 26 based in the Great Lakes State, and 328 individuals, including 79 Michiganders, have sent a letter to Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. They urge her to “cease and desist” from attempting to bail out the closed-for-good Palisades atomic reactor on the shore of Lake Michigan, to the tune of potentially many hundreds of millions of dollars of federal taxpayer money, in a scheme to restart operations there for at least another nine years. Whitmer has applied to Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, herself a former Michigan governor, under the recent Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s Civil Nuclear Credit Program. The bailout and restart scheme ignores Palisades’ severe, high-risk, age-related degradation, including multiple worsening pathways to catastrophic reactor core meltdown: the worst pressure vessel embrittlement in the country; severely degraded steam generators and reactor lid, exceedingly long overdue for replacement; a half-century worth of problem-plagued control rod drive mechanism seal failures, etc.
“We’ve long known Palisades was a radioactive monster, but we did not foresee it turning into a zombie reactor,” said Kevin Kamps, radioactive waste specialist at Beyond Nuclear based in Takoma Park, MD. “If restarted for at least another nine years of ever more high-risk operations, Palisades would not only pose an increasing threat to the public’s health, safety, security, and environment, but would also massively pick their federal taxpayer pockets to do so,” Kamps, who also serves on Don’t Waste Michigan’s board of directors, added.
“Market manipulation is detrimental to the entire energy sector,” said Michael Keegan, chairperson of Coalition for a Nuclear-Free Great Lakes. “Yet, the Energy-Consumers Energy Power Purchase Agreement, from 2007 to 2022, gouged the region’s ratepayers, forcing them to pay 57% above market rates on their electricity bills,” Keegan, who also serves as Don’t Waste Michigan’s co-chair, added.
“Our analysis indicates that Palisades does not even qualify for such a bailout under the U.S. Department of Energy’s own rules,” said Diane D’Arrigo, Radioactive Waste Project director at Nuclear Information and Resource Service based in Takoma Park, MD. “For starters, the governor is not allowed to apply. The owner must do so, but Entergy has made clear it is not interested. In fact, Entergy closed Palisades 11 days earlier than scheduled, to transfer the site to another company to dismantle and decommission,” D’Arrigo added.
Although the environmental coalition very much wants Palisades to remain permanently shut down, Beyond Nuclear, Don’t Waste Michigan, and Michigan Safe Energy Future, represented by legal counsel Terry Lodge of Toledo, Ohio, have petitioned for a hearing and filed intervention contentions with NRC, opposing Holtec International’s takeover of the site. So too have Environmental Law and Policy Center of Chicago, as well as the Office of the Attorney General of the State of Michigan.
“Michigan Public Service Commissioner Katherine L. Peretick has reportedly told the press that the state is in serious talks with a company interested in buying Palisades, but declined to reveal the company’s identity, nor provide any more details,” stated Terry Lodge, Toledo, Ohio-based attorney who has represented environmental watchdogs opposed to Palisades for years. “State and federal trolling for a short-term profiteer to run Palisades on danger’s edge for nine more years obligates the radiation cheerleaders to tell the public, now, who’s being considered,” Lodge added.
Regarding the decommissioning phase and Holtec International’s proposed takeover of the Palisades site by the end of this month, Iris Potter of Michigan Safe Energy Future-Kalamazoo Chapter testified at the Palisades Community Advisory Panel at Lake Michigan College in South Haven on April 13, 2022 that “I love Lake Michigan with all my heart and its land habitat. But, I am very concerned about decommissioning with all its moving parts and how it will affect all of it including our health.” See the rest of her questions and concerns from that public comment posted online here.
In the last few days, NRC has announced a “Webinar on Palisades Nuclear Power Plant Decommissioning.” It is scheduled for Thursday, June 16 from 5:30 to 7pm Eastern Time. NRC has posted more information about this webinar at: <https://adamswebsearch2.nrc.gov/webSearch2/main.jsp?AccessionNumber=ML22154A446> and <https://www.nrc.gov/pmns/mtg?do=details&Code=20220594>.
“It is now time to safeguard and secure the high-level radioactive waste stored on-site at Palisades, to clean up the widespread radioactive contamination of the property before it further threatens Lake Michigan and adjacent groundwater aquifers, and to carry out a just transition for the workforce and host region, into the long overdue clean, safe, and affordable renewable and efficient energy system of the future,” said Kamps of Beyond Nuclear. “We look forward to working with Governor Whitmer and her administration on all of this, and supporting the State of Michigan as it wields its broad authority to protect public health, safety, security, the environment, and the economy at the Palisades site,” Kamps added.