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Special inspection underway at nuclear power plant in Michigan

The Palisades Nuclear Power Plant sits close to the Lake Michigan shoreline near South Haven.
Excelon Nuclear
The Palisades Nuclear Power Plant sits close to the Lake Michigan shoreline near South Haven.

A team of experts from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is inspectingthe Palisades Nuclear Power Plant in southwest Michigan. There are no safety concerns and everything is now working properly at the plant.

Last week, a coupling that attaches to a water pump failed. The water pump is one of three at the plant that cool safety equipment. The part was replaced and the pump is back in service. The same water pump had a coupling fail in 2009.

Prema Chandrathil is an NRC spokeswoman. She says special inspections are uncommon.

“We want to have a better understanding of exactly what happened, why the component failed and basically determine if there were steps that the utility could’ve taken that would’ve prevented the failure from happening.”

The team of three materials, metals and pump experts will complete the following tasks.

  1. Inspect the components of all three of pumps
  2. Note previous actions the plant took to correct the issue
  3. Verify if the utility properly reviewed industry operating standards
  4. Determine if the problem could happen with the other pumps
  5. Figure out is this is a repetitive issue

Chandrathil doesn’t know how long the inspection will last. It depends on what the team finds. Once the inspection is complete, the NRC will issue a report.
New Orleans-based Entergy Corporation owns the plant. It is also conducting it's own investigation.

Lindsey Smith helps lead the station'sAmplify Team. She previously served as Michigan Public's Morning News Editor, Investigative Reporter and West Michigan Reporter.
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