Palisades Nuclear Power Plant in southwestern Michigan remains shut down after operators discovered a leak from a water tank Sunday. Officials also found out the day before they discovered the leak, 79 gallons of slightly radioactive tank water spilled into Lake Michigan.
Although the tank has leaked twice in less than a year, officials say there is no immediate risk.
“There is no impact on the health and safety of plant employees or the public,” a spokeswoman for the Entergy plant said, according to the Associated Press.
Having said that, Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) officials estimate “79 gallons of ‘slightly’ radioactive water” flowed into Lake Michigan over the weekend.
The level of tritium and other radionuclides in the water that went into Lake Michigan during the unplanned release was not high enough to be detectable and was well within allowed NRC standards, said the NRC’s Viktoria Mitlyng.
“This tank has leaked before. It leaked in 2012. The plant had to shut down to repair the leak to the tank,” Mitlyng said. “It’s a repeat occurrence.”
The leakage in 2012 caused water seepage into the plant’s control room. Sunday’s shutdown happened after the water tank exceeded a 38-gallon daily leak limit set after last year’s shutdown.
The plant is along Lake Michigan in Van Buren County’s Covert Township, about 80 miles northeast of Chicago.
In September 2012, the NRC conducted an 11-day inspection of the plant and determined its operators had “adequately addressed” problems identified in 2011. But it said the plant needed additional oversight to ensure remaining corrective actions ended up properly carried out and they would understand the cause of leaks earlier that year so they wouldn’t lead to new problems.
The NRC said the plant would undergo 1,000 hours of inspection beyond the 2,000 hours of baseline inspections at nuclear plants annually.