Beyond Nuclear: Palisades reopening ‘nightmarish’

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Not everyone is happy about federal approval of a loan for Holtec International to restart the Palisades nuclear power plant in Van Buren County.

The U.S. Department of Energy announced this week conditional approval of the funds, assuming Holtec meets certain regulatory and environmental requirements. Beyond Nuclear’s Kevin Kamps has warned for years that Palisades isn’t safe and tells us it’s distressing that the plant, which finally shut down in 2022, is coming back online.

In terms of the safety risks involved, it’s nightmarish, but also the pocketbook impacts,” Kamps said. “$1.52 billion is a lot of money. It’s about 10% of what Holtec is requesting. I’ve been compiling the bailout and the giveaways that it’s requesting from federal taxpayers, rate payers, and state taxpayers, and the sum total now is $15.7 billion.”

Kamps says the roughly 50-year-old reactor at Palisades has an embrittled vessel that creates the risk of a disaster while radioactive waste from the plant isn’t being dealt with.

The high-level radioactive waste that’s out there, 800 metric tons and counting. They’re going to make 20 metric tons more per year if they fire up the zombie reactor.”

Kamps says Holtec’s plans to add two small modular reactors will mean even more waste. He calls the technology a “pie in the sky” idea anyway.

Some opponents of refiring Palisades were on hand for the loan announcement Wednesday, but they were whisked out of the room as Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and Governor Gretchen Whitmer prepared to speak.

Kamps says there’s no chance the NRC will stop the Palisades reopening, telling us the agency is made up of individuals from the nuclear industry.