With Entergy restarting the Palisades Nuclear Generating Station today, Congressman Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) raised concerns in a letter today to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) about a new unidentified leak in the plant's Primary Coolant System that caused a shutdown of the nuclear reactor on August 12. This latest leak follows an earlier, separate water leak in the reactor's control room that was the subject of a June 22 query from Rep. Markey. That leak led to an unplanned June 12 shutdown of the reactor. Today's letter from Rep. Markey, senior member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, queries the Commission about steps taken to address the recent leak affecting the plant's reactor control rods which control nuclear reactions. Rep. Markey's letter also reveals findings from a recent safety culture assessment conducted at Palisades that details alarming conclusions that deviation from industry practices contributed to the occurrence or severity of events at Palisades, employees distrust management to address safety issues, and there is evidence of a lack of accountability at all levels of Palisades.
"This history and the recent safety culture assessment do not inspire confidence that Palisades will be able to operate safely for the more than 19 years left in its operating license," writes Rep. Markey in the letter to NRC Chairman Allison Macfarlane. "This most recent leak is just the latest in a torrent of safety-related problems that have plagued Palisades in recent years that have led me to question the adequacy of both the safety and safety culture at this facility," said Rep. Markey in separate comments.
In the letter, Rep. Markey asks the NRC to respond to questions about the most recent leak that caused the August 12 shutdown, which include:
When was the decision made to restart the plant and how was that decision made?
When was the leak that caused the August 12 shutdown first discovered and when was it first reported to the NRC? What was the cause of the leak and have the necessary repairs been made?
Are you satisfied that Entergy's actions to resolve the recent leak are sufficient to prevent similar leaks in the future?
Are you confident that the Palisades Nuclear Generating Station can safely operate for the remainder of its license term?
Rep. Markey's letter also requests additional, follow-up responses to his June 22 letter about the water leak into the reactor control room that caused the June 12 shutdown of the plant. Former NRC Chairman Greg Jaczko toured the Palisades plant on May 31, 2012, but he was reportedly not made aware of the leak of water into the control room prior to or during this inspection.
Has the NRC's Office of Investigations commenced an examination into this matter? If not, why not, and will it immediately do so?
What was the status of the leak at the time of then-Chairman Jaczko's May 31, 2012 visit?