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NRC Chairman: Palisades needs to work on “the basics of nuclear safety”

Lindsey Smith
Michigan Radio

The head of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission says operators of the Palisades Nuclear Power Plant must improve plant safety.

NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko shared his thoughts following a three-hour tour of the plant in South Haven Friday.

“There’s really a need to improve on fundamentals. Just some of the basics of nuclear safety really need to be worked on,” Jaczko said. “We’re starting to see some of that happen which is a positive but it needs to be sustained to ultimately get the performance where we’d like to see it."

New Orleans-based Entergy Corporation operates the plant. Palisades has one of the worst safety ratingsin the country following a series of problems last year.

Entergy is revamping all of its safety procedures at Palisades. Jaczko says that’s a start. But he says those procedures need to be followed consistently.

The NRC will conduct major follow-up inspections sometime in the next six to twelve months to determine if Entergy has corrected its mistakes.

Anti-nuclear activists met privately with the outgoing chairman.

"There’s never been an NRC chairman or chairwoman who’ve invited us to a meeting like this,” Kevin Kamps with Beyond Nuclear said.

Still, Kamps notes Jaczko voted to extend Palisades' operating license when it was up for renewal in 2007. Kamps and others want older plants like Palisades shut down. The plant has been operating since 1971. It has the most enbrittled reactor vessel (which contains the reactor) in the country.

Lindsey Smith is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently leading the station's Amplify Team. She previously served as Michigan Public's Morning News Editor, Investigative Reporter and West Michigan Reporter.
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