COVERT TOWNSHIP, Mich. – The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is investigating a leak at the Palisades nuclear plant in Van Buren County.
Palisades shut down last Friday after several days of problems with the plant’s cooling water heat exchange system.
Viktoria Mitlyng is with the Office of Public Affairs for the NRC and says NRC resident inspectors at Palisades have been aware of a leak from the cooling water system and followed the plant’s actions to find the location after the leakage increased from 2 to 35 gallons an hour in less than a week.
Mitlyng says when the plant shut down last Friday to find and repair the leak, the NRC sent a specialist from the Chicago area to monitor Palisade’s response to the situation. Over the weekend, three NRC inspectors continued to review and assess the work to find and fix the leak and continues to evaluate the situation.
Mitlyng says the leak did not contain radioactive water from the reactor and did not place the plant or the public in danger.
NRC STATEMENT: WHAT IS THIS LEAK ALL ABOUT?
The leak came from the component cooling water system whose function is to remove heat from pipes, pumps and other equipment running at high temperatures. Workers identified the source of the leak to be one of the plant’s two heat exchangers which are a part of this system. Heat exchangers, which consist of about 2,000 tubes each, are used to remove heat during normal operation but also during potential accident scenarios. Palisades has two heat exchangers, which cool equipment important to safety, and are required to be in working condition. According to NRC regulations, if there is a problem with one of the heat exchangers it would need to be fixed within in 72 hours. If that’s not possible the plant would have to shut down to find and fix the leak. Palisades made the decision to shut down before reaching the established limit. The plant has to repair the heat exchanger before returning online.
NRC resident inspectors, in consultation with our expert in the region, continue to monitor situation.