NRC: Steam vented into atmosphere through ‘monitored release path’ at Michigan nuclear plant — “No immediate safety concerns… here’s what happened” (VIDEO)

Published: November 6th, 2012 at 4:31 pm ET


Title: The Palisades’ Shutdown Explained
Source: U.S. NRC Blog
Date: November 6, 2012
h/t Anonymous tips

The Palisades nuclear plant in Michigan shut down Sunday after workers noticed steam leaking from a drain valve on the piping from one of the reactor’s two steam generators. The shutdown was uneventful, and the NRC has no immediate safety concerns with this issue.

Here’s what happened: […]

It contained small amounts of radioactive tritium, but at levels far below regulatory limits. It will be disposed of as low-level radioactive waste. After shutting down, plant operators vented steam from the same system into the atmosphere through an established monitored release path. […]

Title: Palisades Nuclear Plant shuts down again, adding to concerns
Source: WZZM
Author: Alex Shabad
Date: Nov. 5, 2012

The Palisades Plant has shut down five times this year alone, including this latest incident.

[…] Mark Savage, communications manager with the Palisades Nuclear Plant [said] “We are maintaining the plant everyday,” he says. “Our operators make rounds, and this was a great catch by the operator.”

“That’s terrible,” says [resident Marian Anderson] about the latest shutdown. “That just adds to the terrible reputation that they’ve got.”

Published: November 6th, 2012 at 4:31 pm ET


Related Posts

  1. Media reports on radiation release from Michigan nuke plant: “Low-level radioactive steam vented from Palisades” outside Grand Rapids — “It gets diluted” says NRC September 28, 2011
  2. Michigan nuclear plant releasing radioactive steam into environment after unexpected shutdown September 27, 2011
  3. Nuclear plant spills radioactive water into Lake Michigan (AUDIO) May 6, 2013
  4. CBS: Big, loud boom heard then steam vented — “It reminded him of the 1979 Three Mile Island accident” (VIDEO) September 21, 2012
  5. Local News: “Breaking… Alert… leak shuts down US nuclear plant” — Gov’t: Radiation levels ‘above normal’ — ‘Steam plume’ seen in reactor building, workers can’t find where leak is coming from due to safety concerns — Flood warnings issued for area July 23, 2015

38 comments to NRC: Steam vented into atmosphere through ‘monitored release path’ at Michigan nuclear plant — “No immediate safety concerns… here’s what happened” (VIDEO)

  • CaptD CaptD

    RE: after workers noticed steam leaking from a drain valve on the piping

    Ever notice that it is always a tiny amount,
    …that it always has not safety implications

    And this sounds just like something TEPCO would say…


    • HoTaters HoTaters

      See this post re: radiation CPM readings for Michigan and Minnesota on Sunday, 11/5.

      I'm not trying to trump anyone's comments here. Am just not sure where to put this link w/o it getting "lost in the sauce" so to speak.

      Posts on Sunday re: the high levels give validate high readings indeed occurred, perhaps even at alert levels. As I recall, readings for MI and MN were in the high 70's o Maybe Radiation Network has details on any alerts?

      High CPM counts occurred over several hours during the afternoon, on Sunday. It appeared to be in the area near the border between the two states (halfway up the North-South border line).

      Where is the plant which vented the steam located, geographically?

      • HoTaters HoTaters

        BTW, if you search the comments, the comments re: CPM levels were under my user name. I thought the very high levels deserved comment, at the time.

        • HoTaters HoTaters

          As ChasAha brought up on Sunday, 11/5, it's really important we get screen shots of these things before they disappear. Was unable to do so on Sunday. Really high CPM levels all over the place, though.

          Still very high (50's and some 60's) in San Jose, CA. Just can't explain that.

        • HoTaters HoTaters

          That was supposed to say border between Minnesota and Wisconsin. Maybe releases from the Monticello or (less likely?) the Prairie Creek plant(s)?

  • NoNukes NoNukes

    Also: "FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant Shuts Down
    Posted on November 5, 2012 by Submitted article
    SCRIBA, NY – November 4, at approximately 9:53 p.m., FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant experienced an automatic reactor shutdown.

    The automatic reactor shutdown was as a result of a main turbine trip that occurred while regularly scheduled turbine testing was being performed…This event posed no threat to the health and safety of our employees or the public,” Holden said.

  • corium pudding corium pudding

    I'm about halfway between Palisades and Detroit. I love the smell of tritium in the morning.

    • moonshellblue moonshellblue

      Ah come on, you can't smell tritium at levels which they state are far below levels hazardous to humans, now just grab a glass of tritium laced water and don't forget to smile. Ah I grow weary of hearing them state that levels are too low and are not harmful to humans. This madness must end.

      • many moons

        Once I saw two experts on TV talking (brazilian tv O globo) about a paper plant chemical spill that pollute a huge river. The experts said no problem the water is being filtered, no hazards here….it's fine for consumtion.
        The reporters asked if chemicals can be filtered from water or just bio-waste was filterable…the experts became uncomfortable…next each expert was handed a glass of filtered river water and asked to drink it…they refused. The journalist went on to explain that chemicals can't be filtered from water.
        These experts…need to be held accountable.

  • Sickputer

    Oh yeah…yummy ole tritium. Tastes great in your water glass and with peanut butter. Absolutely safe according to the Dr. Frankenstein bunch. They invoke the utmost in trust, mom, apple pie, and the American way.

    One question for the Nucleocrats.. Why did you close your employee drinking water well at Vermont Yankee when you discovered it had tritium?

    SP: They act as scared as the Hinkley lawyers when you offer them a drink of contaminated water.

  • tooktheredpill tooktheredpill

    “Our operators make rounds, and this was a great catch by the operator.”

    ….who, had he NOT been walking around looking, would have had absolutely no idea whatsoever that there was a steam leak from a valve as obviously none of the 'thousands' of safety warning systems in the plant alerted a single soul to this.

    Our lives should not come down to 'a good catch' by an employee seeing that a valve has burst!

    If no red lights were flashing in the control room then this would not have been caught.

    How many 'dropped' balls have there been since the first NPP ???

  • MaidenHeaven MaidenHeaven

    Tritium rapidly enters all material containing hydrogen. Some of this absorbed tritium reacts with organic compounds and is called organically bound tritium (OBT), a very important component of tritium exposures. When there are repeated (i.e., chronic) exposures to tritium, concentrations of OBT gradually increase in all biota.
    Humans accumulate OBT by consuming OBT in tritium-contaminated food and by drinking/eating, breathing and absorbing tritiated water (HTO). OBT is more problematic than HTO because of its much longer residence time and because OBT by its very nature is located near organic molecules (for example, DNA).

    Tritium easily crosses the placenta, which raises concern for spontaneous abortions, stillbirths, congenital malformations and diseases.

    "It is classified as a carcinogen (causes cancer), a mutagen (causes genetic mutations) and a teratogen (causes problems in the developing fetus resulting in birth defects)."

    Once released, much of the tritium becomes part of the water cycle. Falling to earth as radioactive rain and snow, it accumulates in the environment. Freezing, melting, evaporating, and raining down again, it seeps into groundwater and flows into streams, lakes, rivers, aquifers, and oceans. It is also taken up by all living organisms.

    "Municipal water treatment facilities and commercially available water filters cannot remove tritium from drinking water. For this reason, it is very important to keep tritium out of drinking…

  • jackassrig

    Drain lines are attached to larger pipes by weldolets, sockolets, or nipolets. The small branch-drain pipe-attaches to the larger pipe by welding at the base of the -olet-weldolet,sockolet, or nipolet. If a weldolet is used, a nipple is welded to the weldolet and the valve is welded to the nipple. This is the drain line-probably less than a foot and half long. Lets say you want a drain line on a 36" main line. The drain line is probably a 2" line. So a 2" weldolet is welded to the 36". Of course the 36" has a 2" hole drilled in the 36" for the drain. A 2" nipple is welded to the weldolet and a 2" valve is welded to the nipple. This forms a 90 degree connection.

  • jackassrig

    The article didn't say where the dribble was coming from the weld on the weldolet or the valve. If the weld on weldolet gives up then there is no way the fuild can be shut off. The fluid is leaking from the 36" into the atmosphere. To cut the flow, the main line needs to be isolated.

    One time years ago a refinery nearly burned to the ground because a fork lift driver accidently backed into a vent line=same aa a drain-and sheared the weld. A large cloud of vapor formed and the ignition from the fork lift ignited the mess and it went kaboom.

    This is a little more serious than the nuc's are reporting.

    • guezilla

      First place should to check should always be NRC event reports, as they're required to be reported there within time-limits. Of course, the reactor operators will wait for the maximum time before reporting them, and NRC won't put them up until next business day… but in any case, this was up since Monday and provides a bit of extra info:

      "At 1115 EST on November 4, 2012, primary coolant loop #2 was declared inoperable due to a small un-isolable steam leak on a drain valve of an atmospheric steam dump valve on the secondary side of the 'B' Steam Generator. The valve is ASME Class II high energy piping and the non-conforming condition could not be evaluated with the steam generator pressurized. Based on the condition of the valve and the inability to evaluate, Technical Specification 3.4.4, PCS loops – Modes 1 and 2, Required Action A.1 was entered which requires the plant to be placed in Mode 3 in 6 hours. Repair of the valve may require cooldown to Mode 5.

      "At 1230 EST on November, 2012, Palisades initiated a shutdown in accordance with Technical Specification 3.4.4."

      So the steam leak was non-isolable, and from the secondary/steam/turbine side (It's a PWR, so this is the middle loop between the pressurized and cooling water). Bit vague on the atmospheric steam dump, though they make it sound like it was just some residual steam from the system. They took 1 hour to decide to shut down, maybe gather necessary people, then up to 5 to bring it to 0%

  • spud

    No immediate saftey concern? Ha, there never is.

    Meanwhile in Sellafield in the UK there's so much waste that nobody knows what to do with it, or how much it will cost to clean it up

  • enoughalready45 enoughalready45

    The problem here is that Palisades is the oldest or second oldest nuclear plant in the country, depending on if you are counting from when they starting building it or when they actually started it up. They always report Palisades as being in “Covert” which it is but what they don’t say is that it is next to “South Haven, Michigan”. A number or residents who live there also work for the nuclear plant so being critical of Palisades is not something you hear from South Haven itself but they should be the ones that are most concerned. A number of people in the surrounding areas have been working to draw attention to the fact that Palisades is an accident that keeps on happening; we are all just hoping it is shut down before the “big one”. If you recall this is the nuclear plant that the former NRC Chairman visited because they were having so many problems. They had a leak over the control room at the time that they kept from the Chairman at the time. A group of us had met with the Chairman and voiced many concerns about Palisades when he was there. Here is a link to couple of blog entries I wrote about it at the time.

    • PavewayIII PavewayIII

      Michigan was one of the dozens of states doing its own environmental monitoring of NPP radionuclides back in the 80's, IIRC. The NRC didn't care for the state peons to be snooping around anywhere near the plants and measuring anything.

      They effectively took all non-NRC environmental radiation monitoring away from anyone around '88. States could rely on the NRC crony-supplied, junior-high-school kid designed EPA RadNet stations. Which were conveniently located far away from any prevailing wind-driven plumes of nearby NPPs. And don't seem to be able to detect anything outside of a hydrogen bomb exploding a half-block away (and upwind of the station). It may not even detect that if someone forgot to feed the gerbil running in that little wheel that powers the station.

  • captndano captndano

    It's incomprehensible to think that there is still a debate going on about nuclear reactors?! We know the truth now about what their Real cost is to society, and maybe even the entire human race. Given what we know now, it's sheer insanity.

  • ForwardAssist ForwardAssist

    I know that most of us Enewsers understand the concept of half life, but just to restate it…..

    Radioactivity is inversely proportional to the half life of an element. That is to say, the shorter the half life an element has the more radioactive it is at any moment.

    The industry would like us to believe that airborne releases of short lived isotopes represent no threat. I beg to differ.

    • guezilla

      I'm not certain what that post refers to. Tritium is not considered to be short-lived isotope, having a half-life of 12.32 years. In addition it decays by beta-decay, and beta-radiation won't even pass the epidermis of the skin, so normally it would have very little effect. (Isotopes decay-mode has potentially more effect than half-life)

      The trouble with tritium is that it's, well, hydrogen. And hydrogen likes to combine with oxygen to make water… Tritiated water to be specific. And humans are about 70% water. Normal science holds it will exit the body in one to two weeks, but of course any possible leak may hang around for decades getting back in the body again and again.

      Another problem with half-life is that when they decay, the isotopes turn into another isotope. In many cases these are poisonous or even more radioactive. In tritium's case it decays into Helium-3, which isn't a radioactive and won't be a problem in such quantities.

      Of course, Krypton-85 (10.756y) and Xenon-135 (9.2h into Cesium-135) are a possible concern too.

      • AGreenRoad AGreenRoad

        Well, no worries then mate, since we are all from the planet Kryton and immune to the effects of Krypton 85, but that Xenon may make our steel indestructible hair turn a little grey; speaking to all of us Supermen and Superwomen..

        We better get those Superman flying suits out and start wearing them.

      • PavewayIII PavewayIII

        But the biggest danger from environmental tritium isn't directly from tritated water (HTO) that passes through the body.

        Much of that water is used in biological processes and is converted to some form of organic-bound tritium (OBT) inside the body. OBT's biological half-lives can be far longer than 'regular' HTO – months or years in some cases.

        Atmospheric HTO precipitates as rain or snow first, then contaminates surface and subsurface aquifers. The danger isn't only from drinking that water. It gets into every link of the food chain and becomes increasingly more likely to convert to a long-lived OBT. It bioaccumulates throughout the food chain, but even primary consumers like mushrooms can show elevated levels.

        Tritium is best measured with liquid scintillation. Its almost impossible to pick out from other radionuclides on a good geiger counter and a beta probe.

  • razzz razzz

    Like concrete and metal never wears out under the constant barrage of nuclear rays, so they extended the operating permit 20 more years for this plant. Was to expire March 2011.

    I know it is difficult remembering nomenclatures and engineering processes dealing with nuclear power and radiation i.e. BWR, PWR, half lives, types of rays, medical effects, etc., but the reading is at least semi-interesting or sad or both.

    The short version from

    "…Tritiated water is a radioactive form of water where the usual hydrogen atoms are replaced with tritium. In its pure form it may be called tritium oxide (T2O or 3H2O) or super-heavy water. Pure T2O is corrosive due to self-radiolysis. Diluted, tritiated water is mainly H2O plus some HTO (3HOH). It is also used as a tracer for water transport studies in life-science research. Furthermore, since it naturally occurs in minute quantities, it can be used to determine the age of various water-based liquids, such as vintage wines.

    It should not be confused with heavy water, which is deuterium oxide…"

    For the long version from

  • razzz razzz

    If I remember correctly, there was a recent news article about a Canadian reprocessing plant for radionuclides (from spent fuel) that was releasing so much tritium that they were sued and were just going to abandon the plant site due to cleanup costs. I think it is ongoing.

    Notice how it is never mentioned how you contain tritium. It is also very hard to detect without using spectroscopy.

    Here's some more reading material about trying to deal with spent fuel which could include old bomb material during reprocessing.

  • AGreenRoad AGreenRoad

    All reprocessing plants emit as much radiation EACH YEAR as TMI did during the whole accident.

    I would share some articles but at max links allowed for this thread.

  • timemachine2020 timemachine2020

    Colorado and Washington state getting unusual high readings on radiation network right now but atleast they can smoke it up and not give a shit cuz marijuana is now legal in both states. Only 2 good things from last nights elections that I can see.

  • timemachine2020 timemachine2020

    Another incident report at NRC for Nine Mile Reactor this morning – happened at a couple minutes past monday midnight and just now posting report. As usual nothing to worry about they say. Getting to be a daily occurance.

  • razzz razzz

    November 7, 2012 at 12:33 am Log in to Reply

    "…I'm not certain what that post refers to. Tritium is not considered to be short-lived isotope, having a half-life of 12.32 years. In addition it decays by beta-decay, and beta-radiation won't even pass the epidermis of the skin, so normally it would have very little effect. (Isotopes decay-mode has potentially more effect than half-life)…"

    quezilla meant to say that tritium is carcinogenic besides capable of damaging DNA and since it is hydrogen based but radioactive it can combine with all sorts of hydrogen based elements and bioaccumulate like when it combines with H2O to become radioactive water.

    Before man tritium was a rare occurrence in nature, like most other radioactive isotopes. Now, after man succeeded in splitting the atom, the list and occurrence of man made radioactive isotopes continues to grow as shown in rising background readings.

    Higher cancer risks from being around a nuclear plant or reprocessing plant or medical lab or some other nuclear related activity where higher concentrations of radioactivity are unavoidable. Further away you are relying on dispersal for dilution.

    • guezilla

      Actually, I meant to say tritium is medium-lived isotope and thus a leak will be around in substantial amount for a lifetime. In fact as nuclear plants are licensed for 40 years (before seeking extension) more than tenth of their FIRST tritium leak will still be around when they shut down. You can see how the "possibly small even though we have no measurements" individual amounts will easily accumulate.

      Though a geiger meter is nearly unusable for detecting tritium (or any beta radiation emitter) commercial measurement devices that would be suitable for nuclear plants with very low detection ability are generally available: (Unless they have high gamma radiation, but in that case they've got other problems…). Sometimes I wonder if "we don't know if there was tritium" means "there was so much radiation we can't tell if any of it was from tritium" rather than "we measured it but won't tell so we won't get sued".

      Studies on the health effects of tritium and tritiated water are rather spotty for some reason, but it IS considered to have a Relative Biological Efficiency of 2 to 3, meaning it's 2 or 3 times as efficient poison as your garden variety gamma ray source.