Emergency declared at Michigan nuke plant: Reactor shut down after leak exceeded plant’s technical specifications — Cooling system spews more than 10 gallons a minute

Published: September 19th, 2011 at 6:56 am ET


Water leak shuts down reactor, Herald Palladium, By ANDREW LERSTEN, September 17, 2011:

Palisades cooling system spewing more than 10 gallons a minute; radioactive material won’t leak into environment

The Palisades nuclear power plant was shut down Friday afternoon after a water leak of more than 10 gallons per minute was detected in the system that cools the plant’s nuclear reactor.

The plant was shut down shortly before 3 p.m. because the leak exceeded the plant’s technical specifications, spokesman Mark Savage said. The plant filed a notification of an “unusual event” with the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission. […]

There is no estimate for when the plant will be back in operation, Savage said Friday afternoon. […]



Published: September 19th, 2011 at 6:56 am ET


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44 comments to Emergency declared at Michigan nuke plant: Reactor shut down after leak exceeded plant’s technical specifications — Cooling system spews more than 10 gallons a minute

  • Steven Steven

    To be impartial (not that they deserve impartiality) 10 gallons a minute is like an occassional drip from your home water heater (radiation considerations aside). These things pump huge amounts of coolant around so this is not really a serious leak.

    I guess all the outraged womenfolk will jump on me now, with cries of ‘shill’ or whatever. Personally I prefer the truth every time, even if it’s not taking me in the direction I wanted to go. TEPCO and the Japanese government thought they could win with lies, and look where that’s getting them.

    • BadjerJim BadjerJim

      Long time lurker, first time poster: thanks to all for the excellent info here.

      With all due respect: if my water heater were leaking at 10 gallons a minute, that leak would easily fill the basement in 2 days. I would consider that more than an “Unusual Event.” But that’s just me.

      • StillJill StillJill

        Good for you Badjer! You make the ‘numbers’ make some sense! Welcome–thanks for chiming in! 🙂

        • BadjerJim BadjerJim

          Thanks Jill. Imagine a 5-gallon bucket… you hold it under the leak, and it’s full in 30 seconds. So you grab another, and then another… and that water has to go somewhere?

          Granted, if you’re pumping a million gallons a minute through the pipes, 10 gallons per minute leak is a very small percentage. But a leak is a leak: and with the pressures involved, I think it’s a safe bet that said leak will get BIGGER with the passage of time. Very unlikely that such a leak will cure itself.

          None of this discussion addresses the WHY of the leak. Bad valve? (easy fix). Bad welds? (not so easy). Deteriorated plumbing throughout the plant? (shut down).

      • Steven Steven

        Indeed if your water heater was leaking 10gal/min it would be empty in less than a few minutes. What I said was “10 gallons a minute is like an occassional drip from your home water heater”. In other words, when you pump millions of gallons an hour through your cooling system, 10gal/min isn’t overly significant, relatively. Obviously there are radiation considerations, the possibility of the leak getting worse etc etc. Not to mention the notability of yet another incident in this error prone industry.

      • jwfuki

        Leaks generally don’t repair themselves, they only get worse, and ten gallons a minute = 14,400 gals. a day.

        Not the smallest drop in the bucket…..

        • Steven Steven

          So how many gallons a day are being sloshed all over the show at the TEPCO circus? I’m just trying to get some perspective here, and direct the majority of my time and attention toward the appropriate crisis.

    • Arizonan Arizonan


      I’m afraid this is an expression of a very unnecessary sexism: men are rational enough to determine the truth, whereas women just react hysterically. It is an old, old idea few people buy into anymore. Both men and women should be alarmed at the continual minor problems at all nuke plants, that’s why the NRC system is useful to help us know a little bit of what is going on. Both men and women should be seeking the truth about these reports. Both men and women are equally liable to over-reaction, but please do not put women down because of their concern for the planet and for life as a whole. In general, neither men nor women react strongly enough in the face of threats like Fukushima. I think we are not humanly capable of a fast adaptation to a radioactive threat.

      • Steven Steven

        My comment re ‘outraged womenfolk’ was based on observation. Many times in the past there have been instances where a particular clique here, best described as ‘outraged womenfolk’ – and not in any unkind way btw, as you infer everyone here should indeed be outraged – have attacked other posters for posting what they consider to be pro-nuclear material.

        I was merely making an observation that my comments in this case were likely to incurr their wrath. In no way is that sexist, pro-nuclear, or antagonistic. Your opening statement, where you read something into my words that were not intended, certainly would be sexist and antagonistic… but I didn’t write them 🙂

    • mikey

      STEVEN is a Shill!! there I say it an Im a dude so stuff ur women folk comment! WTF is ur problem “RADIATION A SIDE” u lying POC. Radiation is NOT an aside and I hope to God u find that out first hand stevie/Grace/Steve2/ whatever other names u slink by

      • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

        ..add acidlab…..I think it’s one person…sometimes…lol.

      • Steven Steven

        Admin knows 🙂 I post here under this name only, which is my genuine Christian name. I always strive to be polite and fair in my comments, and never abuse the privilege of being part of this concerned and for the most part, astute community. I am very definitely anti-nuke, having lost a loved one in suspicious radiation related circumstances, but being relatively safe here in Australia I try not to ‘get in the way’, as it were, of those in considerably more peril than myself.

        Politicians know well that to say anything definitive is to lose half of your potential votes; say three things and you’re down to twelve and a half percent lol. Saying anything at all can lead to people misunderstanding and taking offence. This is one of those occassions, but rest assured anyone who doesn’t care what the nuclear industry thinks isn’t bothered by a few insults from someone like your good self.

      • Grace Grace

        oooer Grace is the real name of my lovely dog and I am a whole and separate manifestation thanks, though I do have a brother called Steven, but that is a mere co-incidence and we haven’t spoken for years – he is a banker.

  • Au Au

    Sept 19 AM 31.68CPM- southern MI.
    Twelve hour count.
    It’s raining.

  • Edward Edward

    ANY radiation leak is unacceptable. These reactors need to be shut down, they are disasters waiting to happen. Again, we need to protest in large numbers here in the states. No Nukes!!!

    • socal stukncali

      Yes we do. Let’s start a group on facebook and get thousands of people to join and plan a date to protest in front of the white house. If we’re really serious about it we can get it done. I know a lot of people who would come just because lol. But i think we can do it and we should. We owe it to our future generations

  • americancommntr

    Question is, are the owners and operators of this plant telling the truth about the amount of the leak? The industry has almost zero credibility.

    Also, is this another situation like the plant that had severely corroded pipes, from cavitation apparently? Do they have a cheesework of holes just waiting to spring leaks? When a home water supply line springs one, especially two, leaks, and it’s been in the ground a long time, it’s time to replace the whole line, as its likely all on the verge of leaks.

  • ocifferdave

    I say when they throw you a bread crumb of truth via a news article, reach around them and grab the loaf. Steven, don’t dare be happy with that crumb they are giving you. And if you do get the whole loaf, then hunt down the bread factory. Then the wheatfield. …And burn it all with womanlike histerical critisim. Won’t be to hard to find the estrogen in us…I mean, we have all been the nuke industries’ bitches for years (I know I ignorantly was).

    • Steven Steven

      Love your work ociffrdave 🙂 You’re correct about the bread crumb and the loaf, one of my faults is always thinking the other guy is telling the truth. I guess that’s because I do. If they are lying about the rate of leakage (easy to lose a zero and claim a typo later) then hopefully someone in the know will grab a whistle and blow like crazy.

      • ocifferdave

        Ever since I came to the realization that if man suddenly disapeared the planet would be destroyed in a few years. Interesting how no movies ever talk about worldwide nuclear meltdowns if man/civilization stopped running things on the planet (think I Am Legend, Contagion, or this Nat’l Geographic special: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=thkLKWQyg_s). It’s actually quite obvious this would be the real problem in any of those movies. The real killer. The nuke industry would crap themselves if this type of thinking presented itself in a movie. I would own that movie!

      • socal stukncali

        And to Steven: That’s one of the bad things about being honest is that pretty much nobody else is. That’s why I cant stand it here everyone here has a “corrupt” mind is what i call it. Being honest though, keeps your mind and your conscience at ease

        • Irritated Kalifornian

          @stukncali, good evening stuk, please explain your comment “everyone here has a “corrupt” mind” Everyone Where ? Also please explain what do you mean by corrupt. what makes ‘everyone here” corrupt? Do you believe that you are honest? And is your conscience at ease? Regards IK

  • BadjerJim BadjerJim

    Again, all I’ve read says that nuke plants from the 70’s were designed for a 20-year duty cycle. Most have been re-certified after bogus ‘safety inspections.’ But nothing in the infrastructure in the plants have changed. It’s as though the inspector/certifiers were surprised and amazed that everything is still fine and 100% safe after a 1.5x, and 2x planned duty cycle.

    Consider your car: the manufacturer warns that the belts and hoses on the engine are good for 100,000 miles. You ignore the warning, and keep driving. At 150,000 miles, everything is fine. Then one day, at 171,212 miles, theres a small leak on one radiator hose. You consider this an ‘unusual event’, patch it with duct tape, and refill the radiator. Everything is fine, right? Right.

  • Rosie

    I have to say that even the occasional drip from my water heater leaves me concerned. It suggests that not all is as it should be. It certainly requires decisive action usually followed by discussions as to the deteriorating condition of said heater. Slightly more worrying when radiation is involved.

  • The experts are ‘betting’ catastrophic failure will NEVER happen. We all know what happens when you gamble, sooner or later -> you lose. Except with Nuclear power it can literally mean WE ALL lose!
    (ALL – meaning, all living things are affected.)

    I was personal friends with one of the head directors for the Space Shuttle program back in 1983. We were discussing ‘risk management’. He told me how every single nut and bolt that went into the shuttle was tested far beyond it’s maximum safety design.

    However, it was predicted, or should I say the risk management people stated, that it was ‘highly likely’, that they would lose 1 shuttle for every 72 flight missions. In retrospect they were pretty close. Of the 5 active shuttles that flew a total of 135 missions, 2 were lost. (Challenger STS-52 Columbia STS-107)

    I wonder WHAT IS the REAL RISK assessment of older Nuclear plants having a catastrophic failure? I would ‘bet’ it’s more than 1 in 72. (we know it’s 1 in something?) Especially if you calculate in tsunamis, earthquakes, power grid malfunctions, tornadoes, faulty designs, floods, poor construction, human error, waste storage, aging infrastructure, greed, space debris, asteroids and terrorists. And/Or any combination or combinations of the above.

    This is the best kind of Nuclear Plant:

    • BreadAndButter BreadAndButter

      Lovely little video. Made my heart sing!
      What a lovely sight – a lake and woods without a cooling tower.

    • Steven Steven

      Yes nice vid and good to see ChasAha, although I’d be a bit worried about spreading radiation from that explosion (or is that a ‘never operational’ unit?)

      As for probabilities of nuclear meltdowns, considering the scale of the threat in the event of even a single accident, the genie should have stayed in the bottle… even if the probability was almost zero, which clearly it is not.

      • It operated for 16 years.

        “The Trojan steam generators were designed to last the life of the plant, but it was only four years before premature cracking of the steam tubes was observed”

        Plus being built on a fault line. (which most are, because they need to be near a water way) Plus many other issues.

        “In 2005, the reactor vessel and other radioactive equipment were removed from the Trojan plant, encased in concrete foam, shrink-wrapped, and transported intact by barge along the Columbia River to Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington, where it was buried in a 45-foot-deep (14 m) pit and covered with 6 inches (150 mm) of gravel, which made it the first commercial reactor to be moved and buried whole.”

        It costs more dollars to decommission a Nuke Plant than it does to build them. (fact) That is why they cannot afford to turn them off. That is why the ‘experts’ will not even think of a shutdown until the very moment prior to catastrophe. (Hopefully) That’s what they are betting.

        In my opinion it will ‘cost’ more to all life forms and the planet if we attempt to leave them operating. It already has!

        • Dr. Anne Lee Tomlinson Maziar anne


        • Sickputer

          Interesting you mentioned that…I was looking at the history of Palisades and saw they cut out the wall of the reactor building in 1992 (Bechtel supervision I believe):

          “Two steam generators were replaced in 1992. This involved cutting a 28 by 26 foot opening through the 3.5-foot-thick (1.1 m) reinforced concrete wall. The removed units are buried in a large concrete bunker on plant property.”

          credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palisades_Nuclear_Generating_Station#Parts_replacement

          Now what is so neat (or morbid depending on whther you admire or detest these behemoths) about this is they won a Nova award for this feat! http://www.cif.org/nominations/nom_67.html

          I really admire their Nova phrose:

          “The first removal of a nuclear plant steam generator as a single lift to save outage time and significantly reduced exposure of workers to radiation.” (SP: I really like that last part…)

          “The welding was done from the outside of the pipe using automated welding machines remotely controlled by the use of video cameras.
          (d) The extensive use of mockups to train the workforce and to reduce radiation exposure.”

          SP: Let me see if I got this straight…their steam generators failed after years of dangerous clogs and so they cut a giant hole 728 square feet through 3.5 feet of steel-reinforced concrete in the reactor building and then buried the old hot steam generators on the plant grounds. No problem with any ground leeching to aquifers of course!…

  • Irritated Kalifornian


    Responding to your comment about nuke plants “being built on a fault line (which most are because they need to be near a water way)”. this is the third time I have seen comments similar to that on this site. Please tell me, why do you think because there is a fault line there is water there? Could you tell me where you learned that information? Thank-you very much IK

  • WindorSolarPlease

    I am far from a nuclear plant expert.
    However, all this looks like to me is, “Another plant going bad.”

    Close down these plants, they are old. People want newer, safer, cleaner energy, and nuclear isn’t what most people want.

    Get with the times, there are other ways to provide energy.

  • We have to insist that our country move towards safe clean energy. please sign my petition to The President and Congress.