NRC holds Palisades Restart Panel meeting in Benton Harbor

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The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Palisades Restart Panel held a meeting Wednesday to talk about its ongoing evaluation of the facility in Covert Township. The panel is comprised of NRC experts who will determine if Palisades is safe enough to be reopened.

Restart Panel co-chair Jason Kozal said a nuclear power plant that shut down has never been restarted before, so Holtec International is going to have to demonstrate it can be done.

As part of their restart, they will start to recertify equipment, they will start to get things back up to the pedigree required by the rules and regulations of the NRC, and my group is responsible for ensuring and independently validating that they meet those safety requirements and that the plant is safe to restart,” Kozal said.

NRC Region III Administrator Jack Geisner told us he’s toured the site in the last two weeks and it looks good. However, he said the question is whether equipment that’s been shut down for two years is still safe. That includes electrical systems and pumps.

With all the money on the line, Geisner was asked if the NRC panel feels any pressure to approve the licensing for the plant.

We’re an independent agency,” Geisner said. “We have commissioners that we report to. Nobody’s told me anything about that. If we can’t meet this August 25th date, I’m okay. My team is going to be fine. We won’t let them restart.”

That’s Holtec’s restart goal of August next year.

About 100 people came out to Lake Michigan College for the meeting Wednesday. Those opposed to the restart said the reactor is too old, there’s not space for safe storage of spent nuclear fuel, and the facility creates health risks for Covert residents.

Supporters included representatives of Congressmen Tim Walberg and Bill Huizenga and the Covert Township Board of Trustees. They said the restart is an economic plus that will mean more reliable electricity with no carbon emissions.

The NRC will continue inspections at the site and says it wants to continue receiving public input. It’s launched a new webpage dedicated to the Palisades work, which you can find here.