There are four nuclear reactors on Lake Michigan's shoreline, and all of them store their spent fuel onsite, less than one mile from the water.
Courtesy of Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Most of the nuclear reactors operating in the Great Lakes region were built in the '60s or '70s.
The Nuclear Clean Air Energy Indy Car, sponsored by Entergy Nuclear, the power utility that owns Palisades Power Plant in Covert, Mich. The Indy Car was on display Wednesday at Illinois Institute of Technology.
An aging fleetA building spree of nuclear reactors in the ’60s and ’70s has left the Great Lakes, and much of the U.S., with an aging fleet of nuclear plants that are showing signs of age.
One nuclear power plant that came under scrutiny in the AP stories was Braidwood. Braidwood came online in 1988 and operates just a few miles upstream from the Kankakee River in Illinois.
Braidwood spokesperson Neal Miller said that “during environmental monitoring in 2005 we found an onsite tritium leak,” and “some tritium migrated off the property, got into one private drinking well, but it was less than 7 percent of the EPA’s safe drinking level. We take full responsibility for that.”
Tritium has a half-life of 12 years, and Miller estimated that the 2005 leak would take about eight years to dissipate completely. Braidwood’s groundwater table doesn’t drain into the Great Lakes.
Palisades Power Plant in Covert, Mich., is operated by Entergy Nuclear. It is one of the oldest nuclear plants in operation in the country, first coming online in 1971. Shutdowns in 2011 have raised concerns over Palisade’s reliability.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission held hearings earlier this month to determine violations in the wake of the shutdowns.
“Palisades has had issues that have come up; multiple unplanned shutdowns,” said Prema Chandrathil, spokeswoman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Curt Dale, owns a cabin three miles away from Palisades, said he has made peace with his nuclear neighbor, as best he can. “You don’t rest particularly easy with something like that, in case something bad were to ever happen,” said Dale.
Palisades had its operating license renewed until 2031.