Palisades Nuclear Power PlantPalisades nuclear power plant on Lake Michigan

There are 37 nuclear power plants in the Great Lakes watershed.  Pictured is Palisades Nuclear Power plant in Covert Michigan.  This plant should have been shut down years ago.  Its radioactive wastes are stored near the plant.  Its high level wastes are buried on site.  These wastes are so toxic and so long lasting that they threaten all life in and around the Great Lakes if released.  This is a threat to our greatest freshwater system on Planet Earth and future generations.

The Dynamic Great Lakes on Kindle    

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This critically acclaimed book is also available in paperback from many bookstores and online at, and many other places.


DynamicGreatLakes-Independent_FullCover copy

The Dynamic Great Lakes

December 14, 2011

A Critically Acclaimed non-fiction book about the five Great Lakes

The Dynamic Great Lakes is available in the new edition at Barnes & Noble online or in stores. It is also available at Schuler Books and Music, The Bookman, (paper and Kindle edition) and many other fine stores.

September 21, 2011

Here is an excerpt from my book, The Dynamic Great Lakes:
Plutonium, the most toxic substance known, is a by-product of
nuclear power plants. It is extremely hazardous because of its high
radioactivity: for half of its quantity to decay, it takes 24,360 years.
Our aging Nuclear Power Plants on the Great Lakes presently have
nowhere to store plutonium except on their property.
On the Palisades Nuclear Power Plant property on the shore of
Lake Michigan near South Haven, eight 100 ton casks stand on a
concrete slab only 150 feet from the waters of Lake Michigan.
The 16½ foot high casks are eleven feet in diameter and weigh
100 tons. They consist of a steel basket encased in 29 inches of
concrete and stand on a concrete slab. Palisades may eventually have
25 casks. Plutonium is so toxic that it could mean an end to life as
we know it in the Great Lakes region. Low-level radionuclides like
tritium escape into the ecosystem from these plants and like other
toxins, radioactivity magnifies through food chains. The nuclear
power plants are aging and must be phased out. Their radioactive
wastes pose an urgent problem that will have to be solved soon. No
one has solved the problem of how to store plutonium safely.

Today I heard on the news that the Palisades plant is now back online.

Palisades Nuclear Power Plant

September 19, 2011

As reported in the Grand Rapids Press

COVERT — Palisades nuclear power plant on Lake Michigan south of South Haven was shut down shortly before 3 p.m. Friday when a leak was discovered in a valve in the system that cools the reactor.

The plant will remain out of service until work and testing are completed, which should be “soon,” according to Palisades spokesman Mark Savage.The reactor is in a stable condition, workers isolated the leak Friday, and started work Saturday to repair the valve, Savage said.

Routine monitoring of pressure revealed the leak, Savage said.

While the plant is shut down, workers also added oil to a coolant pump reservoir, but the focus is on getting the leaking valve repaired and tested, Savage said, and that’s in progress. He said customers won’t be affected by the plant shutdown.

He would not speculate how long it would be before the plant is returned to service.

updated fourth edition

Now available on Kindle

To learn about the Great Lakes and their interesting features, The Dynamic Great Lakes is for you.

Now updated in a fourth edition, Amazon has made the book available on the Kindle e reader as well as in paperback. The book is concise and suitable for all readers.

the Michigan Messenger
by Eartha Jane Melzer

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 the Palisades nuclear power plant to keep operating, and a new study seems to support that contention.

“Palisades is an accident waiting to happen because of deferred maintenance,” said Kevin Kamps of the watchdog group Beyond Nuclear.

In a major series on nuclear safety last week the Associated Press detailed a phenomenon that has long troubled watchers of the nuclear industry — wear and tear at the nation’s many old nuclear power plants has caused them to fall out of compliance with rules for leaking valves, cracking on steam generator tubes, metal corrosion and more, and rather than require repair federal regulators have relaxed the rules to accommodate the deteriorating plants.

In the case of Entergy’s 40-year-old Palisades plant which sits on the shore of Lake Michigan 45 miles west of Kalamazoo, the major problem is embrittlement of the reactor vessel, environmental groups say.

Palisades is a 798 Megawatt pressurized water reactor that has been operating since Dec. 1971. The plant is owned by Entergy which bought it from Consumers Energy in 2007.

Since the early 90s Michigan environmental groups have warned that neutron radiation from the nuclear chain reaction in the reactor core has reduced the ductility (capacity to deform under stress) of the metal in the reactor vessel.

In 2005 when the owners of Palisades applied for a 20 year extension of the operating license for the plant these groups warned that this embrittlement represents a catastrophic risk.

“If, during an emergency, cooling water is pumped into the thermally hot and highly pressurized reactor core, the “pressurized thermal shock” (PTS) could rupture the brittle reactor vessel like a hot glass under cold water, releasing catastrophic amounts of radioactivity into the air and waters of Lake Michigan, the source of drinking water (and so much more) to tens of millions of people downstream,” they said.

Between 2005 and 2007 most of Michigan’s environmental groups signed on to a legal challenge to the relicensing of Palisades, Kamps said, but the effort proved unsuccessful after a retired NRC employee who planned to serve as an expert witness on embitterment of the plant’s reactor withdrew from the process under threats of retaliation from his former employer.

“We got so steamrolled,” he said.

According to AP the NRC lowered the safety margin for acceptable radiation damage to reactor vessels for the second time last year.

The standard is based on a measurement known as a reactor vessel’s “reference temperature,” which predicts when it will become dangerously brittle and vulnerable to failure. Over the years, many plants have violated or come close to violating the standard.

As a result, the minimum standard was relaxed first by raising the reference temperature 50 percent, and then 78 percent above the original — even though a broken vessel could spill its radioactive contents into the environment.

Kamps said the he believes NRC has actually reduced the embrittlement standards around six times and he said that the reactor vessel status at Palisades has been specifically mentioned by the agency as a reason for changing the standards.

Palisades has been out of compliance for decades, according to Michael Keegan of Coalition for a Nuclear-Free Great Lakes in Monroe.

“Palisades first violated NRC’s pressurized thermal shock regulations in 1981, just ten years into operations,” he said back in May as the NRC prepared for its annual meeting on performance of the Palisades plant. “Rather than deal with its embrittlement or else shut down, Palisades has instead successfully pressured NRC to weaken the safety regulations time and again in order to allow it to keep operating, despite the risks.”

The onsite storage of the spent fuel at Palisades has also been identified as a problem.

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.

Landsman said that his superiors opted to ignore repeated communications about violations in the seismic design of Palisades’ spent fuel storage area.

“They turned me down again because I was retiring and officially couldn’t bother them any more, but the point is, the pad is not safe to hold any loaded casks,” he said.

On Tuesday the legislature will hear testimony on safety issues at Michigan’s three nuclear power plants during a joint meeting of the House Energy and Technology and Military and Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security Committees.

Officials from DTE Energy, owners of the Fermi 2 nuclear power facility near Monroe; American Electric Power, of the Cook facility in Bridgman; and Entergy, of the Palisades plant, will make presentations.

“Whether threatened by natural disaster or human attack, the tragic events at Fukushima have stressed our need for caution and certainty when it comes to protecting our nuclear energy facilities,” said state Rep. Kurt Damrow (R-Port Austin), chair of the House Committee on Military and Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security. “To ensure the safety of our residents and communities, we must make protecting these facilities a top priority for Michigan.”

“… [T]his is the nuclear industry defending themselves against what’s been in the press lately on U.S. nuclear safety and Fukushima,” said energy activist Kay Cumbow.

Cumbow pointed out that in addition to damage to the reactor vessel at Palisades, DTE Energy’s Fermi 2 is a GE Mark 1 reactor of the type that melted down at Fukushima and some are calling for all such reactors to be shut down due to unresolved safety flaws.

“… [A]s many of the concerned public who are able, should attend this meeting to let these committee members know that Michigan citizens are very concerned about safety issues that present with these aging, problem-ridden reactors … and expect the Michigan legislators to take action to protect the public.”