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Palisades nuclear plant set for decommissioning after sale, despite state opposition

Palisades Nuclear Power Plant in South Haven.
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
The Palisades nuclear power plant is on the Lake Michigan shore between Benton Harbor and South Haven.

The sale of a West Michigan nuclear power plant to a decommissioning company is now final.

Holtec International said it plans to finish taking the Palisades Power Plant out of service by 2041.

After that, the company's Senior Manager of Government Affairs and Communication, Pat O’Brien, said the site would be open to other uses.

“Our commitment’s really to work with the local community [and] the state to find out what the next best use is for the community. I mean, really our focus will be on safely storing the fuel, going through and doing the site characterization and the clean-up, remediation of the site, and obviously dismantlement of the facility and the buildings,” O’Brien said.

The state had tried to keep the 50-year-old plant north of Benton Harbor from shutting down over worries about job loss and losing a source of clean energy production.

O’Brien said there’s still the possibility of the site producing energy again in the future.

“I understand the community and the state’s concerns for where we’re getting clean power but really the other thought is you’re going to start to see, I believe, advanced reactors come online across the United States probably in the next 10 to 15 years,” he said.

Meanwhile, O’Brien said Holtec inherited around 240 employees in the sale. Some of them could stay on during the decommissioning process.

“There’ll be certain times where we’ll have some staff reductions but as the job ebbs and flows, you know, obviously, depending on the project and what’s being removed and when, you’ll have a number of specialty union contractors come on and help with the project.”

The Michigan Public Service Commission, which oversees the state’s utilities, declined to comment for this story.

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