Michigan nuclear plant releasing radioactive steam into environment after unexpected shutdown

Published: September 27th, 2011 at 6:41 am ET


SOURCE: Saibo via Wikipedia

Nuclear Event in USA on Tuesday, 27 September, 2011 at 03:09 (03:09 AM) UTC, RSOE EDIS [Hungarian National Association of Radio Distress-Signalling and Infocommunications (RSOE) operates Emergency and Disaster Information Service (EDIS)]:

Entergy’s Palisades nuclear plant near South Haven is venting radioactive steam into the environment as part of an unplanned shutdown triggered by an electrical accident. This shutdown, which began Sunday evening, came just five days after the plant restarted from a shutdown that was caused by a leak in the plant’s cooling system.

“The steam that would normally go to the generators, that steam is now going into the environment … through the steam stack […] This would have very low levels of tritium.” –Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokeswoman Prema Chandrithal

h/t Anonymous tips, mooter, Sue-Ellen Campbell

See also:

Published: September 27th, 2011 at 6:41 am ET


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81 comments to Michigan nuclear plant releasing radioactive steam into environment after unexpected shutdown

  • NoPrevarication NoPrevarication

    If I’m not mistaken, all nuclear power plants in the U.S. release radioactive steam into the environment from time to time. As long as it is below a certain level, it need not be reported. I have read that often, to get around the reporting requirement, radioactive steam is released in several episodes, none of which exceed the maximum which would require formal reporting.

    Unfortunately, most people outside of enenews do not realize this.

    • WindorSolarPlease

      Hi NoPrevarication,

      Radioactive gases may be removed from the systems supporting the reactor cooling system. These gases removed are compressed and stored. The gases are periodically sampled and can only be released when the radioactivity is less than an acceptable level according to the 10CFR20 regulation. Releases of this nature is done very infrequently.
      Hopefully, they abide by the safety rules.(Cough)

      They also let non-radioactive steam out also.

      This however, was another a accident. Something totally different.

    • Pallas89juno Pallas89juno

      Dear Noprev: Yes, you’re right that they do release radioactive steam into the environment. I don’t know about “all” though. I think it’s one of the unacceptable things that we’ve become densensitized to in the U.S. along with environmental injustice surrounding the occurrences and locations of superfund sites and unaccounted for toxic chemical and radiologic waste and manufacture locations. I think something that this story should remind us about, Michigan plant releasing steam, is the reality that there are NO safe nuclear reactors and that their very operation causes the breakdown of the structural integrity of these plants. No such plant should be operating to start, since their fuel is stored as “spent fuel” when it is 1,000,000x more radioactive than the original usually uranium dioxide that is initially installed in the reactors. When there are thousands of tons, including in each case many hundreds of tons of Plutonium, of SF at each of these nuclear plants.

      • Pallas89juno Pallas89juno

        The spent fuel from commercial nuke plants is NOT contained, or should not be considered to be even rudimentarily contained until it is in INTERT GAS, DRY STORAGE in nuclear waste storing CASKS. These are expensive; but that is irrelevent to the need for all extant waste that is cool enough to store to be immediately placed in such containers. I would bet that endeavor, rather than putting trillions into military and corporate welfare programs, would go a long way to employing many of the U.S. and world unemployed at LIVING WAGES with forever benefits.

        • Pallas89juno Pallas89juno

          Remember, as to the advice to force removal of funds from military, covert and corporate welfare programs that money spent in the military and covert sectors and applied to the extant top-down corporate structures (and into the private pockets of those profiteering most from these endeavors) is far less efficient than money distributed to collectives, or to CIVILIAN jobs creation without profiteering by a tiny super wealthy minority of controllers. I believe the statistic in the 1980’s, the beginning of U.S. fascism intensification under the moronic puppet, Reagan, was that for every $1B spent in the military, 18,000 civilian jobs were lost. I would like to see an analysis, not necessarily in here though it IS relevant, of how much money is lost through having it circulate through profiteering ventures compared to how efficient non-profit operations, and other non-profiteering (non-wealth minority controlled) organizations are.

      • Pallas89juno Pallas89juno

        Remember everyone, high radiation environments, particularly over periods of years and decades, breaks down the structural integrity of ALL substances, especially things we naively consider to be physically rigid, such as all metals and all concretes used in construction of nuclear power plants. These NEVER age gracefully and provide more inducement for immediate PUBLIC TAKEOVER of all nuclear power plant operations with full public review of all steps of the process in tandem with nuclear researchers/physicists/operators full and fully transparent cooperation with the PUBLIC to whom they owe everything and who can pull the plug on their freedoms should we choose and we should be weilding that stick at this time, if we, the public, had ANY self esteem or common sense.

        • Pallas89juno Pallas89juno

          I’m not even counting the intense chemically corrosive by-products involved in nuclear power plant operation, which also tend to dissolve and destroy both “resistant” metals and other construction materials. All nuclear power plant ADMINISTRATIONS must be taken over in order to begin the process of immediate decomissioning of all domestic nuclear power plants in the U.S.

      • WindorSolarPlease

        Hi Pallas89juno

        I agree that there should not be Nuclear Plants. They are dirty, spewing, and dangerous to people and our environment.

  • WindorSolarPlease

    This is just great!!! (Sarc)
    Venting “radioactive steam” into the environment
    Unplanned shutdown triggered by an “electrical accident”.
    “This would have very low levels of tritium.”
    Tritium is a radioactive isotope of “hydrogen”.

    Quote: The plant is stable
    How can it be stable when there is radioactive steam going into the environment???!!??

    Were the people warned?

    Funny how they named the plants like it was something that was high tech, it sounded like an acceptable name, Nuclear Power Plants.
    They should have called them what they really are,
    Radiation Spewing Plants.

  • “As long as it is below a certain level”,
    Can we really trust it is ??

    • WindorSolarPlease

      My trust level is definitely not with any energy corporations.

    • many moons

      I trust them 100%..to not tell the truth….that’s policy in the industry…they will follow policy…millitary style no questions asked….
      There is one answer to all nuclear events….
      “everything is stable…no high levels of radiation detected.”

  • WindorSolarPlease

    That picture looks like a lot of steam is pouring out of there.

  • Ken31ONCA

    Yeah it looks like they are venting a very large amount of steam! I bet local residents are clueless to what is going on. And I read they leaked water from a pipe at a rate of 10 gallons a min and that leaked radioactive water into the ground and environment and they think that its safe when they know any level is not safe low doses low danger but add the fukushima disaster and other natural radiation and when is it gonna be too much? After thousands are sick? Seems like they hire the most incompitent people out there. Look at 3 mile island they were more worried about evacuating people for nothing then they were the peoples safety. Safety should always get the benifit of the doubt and people should be informed on the highest level when this happens, we all need to stand up and demand more info before it happpens, wouldn’t wanna be a mile or 2 down the road when they are sending that poision steam. Any michigan residents come here with a geiger counter that can measure the levels?

    • WindorSolarPlease

      Hi Ken31ONCA

      That would be interesting to see if anyone got high readings from this accident.

      I would like to read that article. If you find the link to where it says, they leaked water from a pipe at a rate of 10 gallons a min and that leaked radioactive water into the ground and environment, please post.

      Not sure either how much more radiation we can take with all that is going on?

    • lam335 lam335

      They should have to alert the public immediately when they are going to release this stuff, so individuals can make decisions about whether to go out. but as usual this information comes dribbling in a day or two after this process has been under way.

      This is why so many don’t trust these people–they behave in this way every time, for smaller incidents as well as truly catastrophic ones. They are always concerned to protect their own interests first and think about the public only later (if at all).

  • Ken31ONCA

    They basically did the same thing to our drinking water here in ontario. They dumped low levels of radioactive, witch is all in their words low levels… But we found out they dumped 73000 L of it. They say low levels but they don’t say what they compare that to. Wouldn’t be the first time they lied, but it seems like every event they use the same terms low levels of radiation and no danger to the public. They need some people in there that care more for the public then their jobs

    • lam335 lam335

      re: “They say low levels but they don’t say what they compare that to.”

      They generally compare it to a banana–and always favorably.

      They lie–but they have been so thoroughly socialized into a culture of lying and downplaying that many of them doubtless believe their lies. They must start getting socialized into these ways of thinking in engineering programs and then it just gets reinforced when they begin working for nuke corporations and find their livelihood depending on those lies.

  • markww markww

    How many releases make up the total in a lifetime. Every one of them could be below standards but when you add them up totally IT IS DEADLY AS HE**


    • WindorSolarPlease

      Hi Markww

      Wonder how much we already have gotten from Fukushima?
      Even a little is to much for me.

    • lam335 lam335

      That’s exactly the problem with all these people who dismiss low-level exposure: IT ADDS UP!

      Here’s an article by some guy who rejects the “linear non-threshold” model claiming that one of the scientists who was influential in establishing that model lied.

      He goes on to declare that, as a result of his claim, scientists should “revisit our exposure regulations,” and he laments, “We have seen literally hundreds of thousands of cleanup decisions based on a model that was fraudulently derived. I think we should probably have drastically different exposure standards today, and far less fear.”

      He ends by wistfully imagining “what society would have looked like if the regulatory community had felt free to use a threshold model” instead of the non-threshold model (which leads to the idea that exposure should be as low as reasonably possible). I am simply not able to understand how society today might have been “better” if greater exposure to radiation had been allowed for all of us (though it no doubt would have been more LUCRATIVE for the people who make their living in ways that expose the rest of us). As long as uncertainty remains regarding the effects of low-level exposure, the only responsible course is to limit that exposure as much as possible–why can’t these people see this?

  • many moons

    I wonder why they are venting? Isn’t venting the last line of defense before a meltdown….when normal cooling procedures fail the add on/last ditch effort is to vent….isn’t it?

    • WindorSolarPlease

      Hi many moons,

      I think during the cool down phases, they have to let the steam out.

      If they can’t cool it, then isn’t that when the melt down occurs?

      I don’t think this will be a melt down.
      However, there is still the radiation with the steam.

    • maaa

      You know what WindorSolar. They did not release steam during other emergency nuclear shut-downs. So what does it tell you? The cores are melting if im right.

      • WindorSolarPlease

        I am still learning about all this…Could this have just gotten hotter?

        To cool it, don’t they use water and then doesn’t that create steam?

        When they can’t cool it, then doesn’t a melt down occur?

        If they can cool the cores, then a melt down won’t happen, is that correct?

  • acid Lab acid Lab

    why does the air taste like metal?

    • Nuke fleas, ate a bunch of them in March & April, once or twice a day, little burst, spread through mouth quickly ! Ride a motorcycle so I grabbed a few as they fell !
      Never had them before, you will notice, bit like battery post corrosive material but more of a metal taste !

      • Also little hot speck places in arms when at stop lights, brush them and it stops !

        • Elenin Velikovsky Elenin Velikovsky

          Interesting how our tastebuds/nasal receptors detect
          and interpret substances, aint it?
          I remember a “metallic” taste when having to work
          a freezing construction site with Kerosene Heater.
          That fume stuff gets to me. I hate fumes.
          They say there is a distinctive “acrid” taste or smell
          to Ozone when detected.
          Some folks woof down toxic chems all day.
          I used to drink a two-liter of diet pepsi almost daily.
          Lucky to be healthy now, years later.

  • Lacsap Lacsap

    The Michigan plant is like all other plants very very HUGE in size. So what i see on the picture is a massive outtake of radioactive steam, no way that is below danger level!

    • WindorSolarPlease

      Hi Lacsap,

      It doesn’t look like that to me either, by this picture.

      Just what we need..More radiation.

    • Lacsap Lacsap

      Tepco is best in photographing their plants in a way that they look like little buildings, even on cam you would think, oooh just little plants. Just look at the street light which is in front of the emissions tower on the livecam.. Just look how big a emissions tower really is compared to a streetlight. Cover up on cover up, lies on lies..

  • maaa

    Is that a river beside the nuclear power plant?

    • WindorSolarPlease

      Hi Maaa

      I believe, it’s the shores of Lake Michigan.

    • They are always beside a water supply for cooling, unfortunately the rivers are often on faults !

      • Lacsap Lacsap

        Direct or “once-through” cooling.

        If the power plant is next to the sea, a big river, or large inland water body it may be done simply by running a large amount of water through the condensers in a single pass and discharging it back into the sea, lake or river a few degrees warmer and without much loss from the amount withdrawn[5]. That is the simplest method. The water may be salt or fresh. Some small amount of evaporation will occur off site due to the water being a few degrees warmer.


        • maaa

          Then why wasn’t steam being released for the recent nuclear emergency shut-downs? Think people.

          • WindorSolarPlease

            I would have to guess this is not a small accident, and that the cores are probably very hot. I would say they are working hard on this, to cool it down.

            I’m just not sure yet if a melt down will happen. Maybe it’s hopeful thinking?

          • lam335 lam335

            re: “I’m just not sure yet if a melt down will happen.”

            There are three questions:
            -IF a meltdown is (or will be) happening
            -WHETHER we will be informed about it if it does
            -WHEN we will be informed if it does

            Every precedent there is tells us that we will NOT be informed about a reactor-related problem until after it has already had a chance to affect us. Einstein said insanity was doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results. Well, trusting the nuke industry and government officials who are friendly to that industry meets the definition of insanity.

          • WindorSolarPlease

            Hi Iam335

            It would not surprise me if we were not informed if there was a melt down, after all, look at Fukushima and our Gulf disaster, can we say media black out.

            Thanks to whistle blowers, people alerting others. In the end, word trickles out.

          • lam335 lam335

            Hi WindSolar,

            That’s my fear too–we go on with life which requires spending a certain amount of time outside, and only later it comes out that a meltdown or some other cause of a significant release had occurred during that time. As it is, I am upset to know that I was outside several times yesterday as this venting was going on not very far away.

            Why can’t they just tell us when things are happening (or will happen, in cases when it is planned”)? Who gave them the right to decide what level of risk is “acceptable” for the rest of us?

            And I still can’t comprehend why the media goes along with it (even though I am aware of the financial connections between some media outlets and the nuke energy industry). I still can’t understand why individual reporters wouldn’t want to dig and push for answers and be the one to get an important story out.

          • lam335 lam335

            . . . the mysterious “no fly-zone” over Ft. Calhoun is a case in point. Why has the media simply accepted that and not sought every means to find out what is actually going on there (and why the no-fly zone was implemented in the first place)?

          • WindorSolarPlease

            Hi Iam335,

            It would have been nice to warn the people in the area, that they were letting radioactive steam out.

            If media people want to work, they have to report on what they are told to report on. In most jobs, you do your work, as the boss says.

            I do think that some media people get the word out on their own, through the Internet.

            I think there is no flying over any Nuclear Power Plants.
            I believe the no-fly zone is because of 9/11.
            Lots of changes happened after that day.

          • lam335 lam335

            No, the no-fly zone is not a blanket ban on flying near any nuclear plant following 9/11. It was formally declared for Ft. Calhoun in June, apparently in response to the flooding:



          • lam335 lam335

            There SHOULD be a no-fly zone over Indian Point in NY, but as I recall a man on one of the videos posted on Fairewinds.com (the Duxbury video) mentions flying very close to that plant to illustrate how vulnerable it is to terrorists. So there is no no-fly zone over Indian Point, so close to downtown NY, yet there is one over the flooded plant in the middle of Nebraska. One wonders what the reasoning is here.

          • WindorSolarPlease

            Hi Iam335

            I checked if there is a no-fly zone around all plants, if it was implemented after 9/11.

            You are right there isn’t. They can put it in place if, it’s a hazard.

            To me, all plants are hazardous

            Sorry, I need to check facts more carefully even when I write “I think”.

            Thanks for letting me know))))

    • WindorSolarPlease

      Maaa, yes it is on the shores of Lake Michigan.

      Here is an interesting link about the plant.


  • FML

    If you click on the picture you will see it is from Wikipedia. Who knows when it was taken but it is not associated with this event. A little misleading…

  • Anthony Anthony

    From bad to worse to even worse.

    Nuclear power clearly has no rival for technologies with endangers and alters the lives of the planet’s inhabitants.

  • lam335 lam335

    “… the plant is stable and “controlling temperature using Atmospheric Dump Valves.” “The steam that would normally go to the generators, that steam is now going into the environment … ”

    That’s the problem. Nuclear plant operators see the atmosphere (and environment) as their dumping ground. The fact that the rest of us must breath its air is no concern of theirs.

    Why can’t they ever give timely notice of this!!!!!

    Why is it always a couple days after the fact (at best)!!!!!! It apparently started on Sunday night.

    • WindorSolarPlease

      I guess they think people don’t have a right to choose what they breathe in.

      Personally, I don’t like breathing in any type or amount of radiation that they let out.

  • lam335 lam335

    “The outage came five days after the plant returned to service following cooling system repairs. The cooling system problem forced a Sept. 16 shutdown.”

    So if they hadn’t rushed to start up again the first time and if they hadn’t been so cock sure everything was okay after the first shut down, they wouldn’t be doing this now.

    There people are so arrogant and ignorant. They always let their greed for more dollars drive their judgments about when they can “safely” restart.

  • Ron

    The nuclear industry’s dirty little secret: The fact that nuke plants ROUTINELY release radiation into the air in varying amounts when venting pressure.

    Nuke plants routinely release radiation into the environment

    Two major recent studies indicate a relationship between proximity to nuke plants and cancer

    According to the NAS even low doses of radiation have adverse health effects.
    Quote: “A preponderance of scientific evidence shows that even low doses of ionizing radiation, such as gamma rays and X-rays, are likely to pose some risk of adverse health effects, says a new report from the National Research Council. In living organisms, such radiation can cause DNA damage that could eventually lead to cancers. The report provides a comprehensive assessment of these risks based on a review of the scientific literature from the past 15 years. It is the seventh in a series of assessments from the Research Council called the Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation.”

    So what about the cancers from those who are exposed long term to low doses of radiation, those unsuspecting communities which live around and downwind of the plants? That’s just the cost of doing business – Nuclear style.

    • lam335 lam335

      Thanks for this info.

      From the HPS link:
      “Nuclear power plants routinely release radioactive gaseous and liquid effluents during operation and during refueling outages. These releases are typically planned releases….

      The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) does not require notification to the public when these releases are scheduled. However, the plant is required to maintain records of all radioactive effluents released.”

      WHY can’t they tell the public BEFORE these “planned” releases??? What good is it to be able to find out only after the fact that the afternoon you spent playing ball outside with your children they were releasing radioactive stuff into the air a few miles away?????

    • lam335 lam335

      Nuke proponents love to tell us nuclear power has zero (carbon) emissions (though of course that’s ignoring the carbon footprint resulting from uranium mining, transport, processing, disposal, etc.), but nobody ever calls them on it and points out how much other stuff they emit. Excessive carbon emissions aren’t good, but at least plants can clean up some of the carbon dioxide. But radioactive releases aren’t good for any life forms (unless you ask Anne Coulter and her fellow hormesians).

      Yet some so-called environmentalists are so fixated on carbon that they turn a blind eye to releases of tritium, iodine, etc. Personally, I’d rather take my chances with CO2. It’s better than having radioactive stuff emitting inside my lungs and bloodstream for who knows how long.

  • Elenin Velikovsky Elenin Velikovsky

    Right On Ron!
    And an even dirtier little secret, besides what is admitted,
    is how they watch for an event plume in the environment,
    from somebody else’s facility, and use that contamination
    to hide their own timed release of costly-to-process waste.
    Gotta clear the stacks!

  • nonuke nonuke

    Entergy also owns a plant here in Vermont that just lost one of two cooling pump over the weekend 9/26/2011. Their plants are continually being flagged for “Lack of preventative maintenance” by the NRC which says a lot considering the NRC is in bed with the Nukes. Vermont Yankee is scheduled to be shut down in March 2012, but Entergy is suing the state to remain open. Entergy owns many of the BWR plants in the USA. They have leaking plants in Mass, Vermont, Michigan, N.O. and also own Indian point. Entergy needs to be closely watched as they can not be trusted. Search “Vermont Yankee” “tritium leak” and see how they lied to the courts about underground pipes & leaks until eventually they had to admit it due to testimony by Arnie Gundersen (fellow Vermonter).

    Lost 50% cooling ability 9/26/2011

    • midwestern midwestern

      Hey nonuke,

      We’ve been following the case and trial in Vermont. Saw this “event” start last night although it wasn’t labelled as one, was it? Do you have any updates?

      Vermont pump fails, forced to cut power:

      • nonuke nonuke

        It’s been eerily quiet regarding the shutdown. We made a few phone calls. Vermont Yankee was in the process of a slow shutdown so they could refuel in October. The Plant was at 95% power and one of the old million gallon pumps died. This is a critical pump. Based on regulation, they had to show the plant could safely operate on the remaining pump within 24 hours or be forced to shutdown completely. The plant currently is running at 35% power on the remaining pump and no news has come out since. I suspect they will hold off on releasing to much information to save face during the court proceedings. The more I learn about how Entergy runs their Nuclear plants, the more angry I get.

  • lam335 lam335

    Has any body seen any reports about what time the venting was actually done?

    Also, does anybody know what the wind direction was on Sunday and Monday in Covert, MI, where the Palisades Plant is located?

    I am in northern Indiana, right at the border with Michigan (and about 40 miles from the plant), hence my concern…

  • byron byron

    Every week we hear (thanks ENENEWS) of a “leak” or near accident because of the aging US nuclear plants. These things were licensed for a limited time but now get renewed. How much longer before another Fukushima right here?

  • Au Au

    Southern MI

    12 hour reads CPM

    Sept 25
    AM 28.75
    PM 35.53

    Sept 26
    AM 37.38 (raining)
    PM 36.63

    Sept 27
    AM 36.1
    PM 36.4

    Sept 28
    AM 34.41

    Average here is around 34CPM
    uSv/hr is still around .11

    We have a swirling weather pattern on top of us now that is staying put.

  • bmurr bmurr


    at the end of this article they say that other generators have been brought on line. so why is it that these reactors never have an ant adverse affect on supply when they are shut down? and what generators are brought online?
    considering how detrimental these plants can be, I want more answers, more transparency.

  • These plants have been releasing radio-active steam and water into the environment for decades. Its just now after Fukushima, a small enlightened group of American citizens are watching the Nuclear power industry in their own country. 25 years ago I read in the left wing Toronto rag Now magazine how cancer rates around Pickering Nuclear Plant were suppressed. 25 years ago I read in mainstream Toronto newspaper how the Pickering Nuclear plant routinely dumped radio active water into Lake Ontario. A few hippies get mad but so what? Authorities say big lake will dissipate radiation. So high tech.

    I’m surprised you folk are surprised by leaks in Michigan plant. Bet you if you look through incident reports you’ll learn that its not the first time. Speaking of incident reports, they report to Authority the leaks but not to local residents. Thats the protocol right?

    Official line; we don’t really know what causes cancer. We don’t know why rates of cancer are climbing, not a clue. No law suit for Entergy. A perfect business plan. Save money for pain-killers