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NRC: Michigan nuclear plant cited for safety violations

By Jim Barnett, CNN
updated 8:32 PM EST, Tue February 14, 2012
The Palisades nuclear power plant, operated by Entergy Corp., stands on the shore of Lake Michigan in Covert, Michigan.
The Palisades nuclear power plant, operated by Entergy Corp., stands on the shore of Lake Michigan in Covert, Michigan.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The NRC cites the Palisades plant in Michigan for three safety violations
  • A plant spokesman says plant officials are cooperating fully with the NRC
  • The NRC says there will be additional inspections and greater oversight at the plant

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A nuclear power plant in Covert, Michigan, has been cited for three safety violations, according to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, joining two other U.S. nuclear plants in getting extra scrutiny from inspectors.

The worst of the violations stems from a September 25, 2011, incident at the Palisades Power Plant in which half of the control room indicators were lost because of an electrical fault "caused by personnel at the site," the NRC announced in a news release.

The NRC said it conducted a special inspection and "determined the plant failed to have adequate work procedures for the electrical panel maintenance work to ensure the job was done successfully."

The NRC said two other violations at Palisades were for a "low to moderate safety significance" issue related to a "coupling failure in the service water system." It said one of the service pumps failed last August due to cracking, something that also happened in 2009.

An inspection concluded: "The plant failed to prevent recurrence of the cracking condition and failed to completely consider the properties of the steel used in a past modification of the couplings."

The agency stated all three violations would result in additional NRC inspections and greater oversight of the nuclear power plant, located about 50 miles from Kalamazoo.

The Palisades plant, owned by the Entergy Corporation, joins two other plants singled out for closer inspections, according to Prema Chandrathil, spokeswoman for the NRC. The other two plants are the Perry Nuclear Power Plant Unit 1 near Cleveland, Ohio, and the Susquehanna Nuclear Power Plant Unit 1 in Pennsylvania about 70 miles northeast of Harrisburg.

Chandrathil said the only plant that ranks lower in the NRC's categories is the Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant in Athens, Alabama, 32 miles west of Huntsville.

As a result of the latest incidents at the Palisades, Chandrathil said, "An additional team of inspectors will be used to conduct 200 hours of additional inspections."

Mark Savage, spokesman for the Palisades plant, acknowledged the findings by the NRC and said, "We've cooperated fully with the agency, and we've shared information with them." Savage said the company will work with the NRC to plan future inspections.

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