Nuclear plants in SW Michigan are "satisfactory"

In the aftermath of the Fukishima nuclear plant disaster in 2011, facilities here in the U.S. are re-evaluating their emergency preparedness.

There are 100 nuclear facilities in the United States, each are routinely inspected and monitored 24/7. However, there's a lingering concern about the safety of these facilities if and when a natural disaster or emergency strikes.

Friday morning, U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman, Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, took a closer look at the Palisades power plant in Covert Township and the D.C. Cook power plant in Bridgman.

Upton described it as a "boots on the ground" tour. He and Macfarlane met with management at both plants to learn more about the safety and operational improvements made in the wake of Fukishima.

Some of those improvements include adding additional equipment that can easily be hooked up if a disaster strikes. Cook nuclear plant is also in the midst of conducting seismic risk analysis to see how the facility would hold up against an earthquake.

Starting in 1997, Cook shut down two reactors for three years. Cook spokesperson, Bill Schalk, said the cause for closure was poor book keeping. After checking the records and verifying calculations, they reopened.

Accompanying Upton on his tour was Nuclear Regulatory Commissioner (NRC) Chairman, Allison Macfarlane. It was Macfarlane's first trip to the Cook facility.

In measured responses, Macfarlane said both facilities were "satisfactory."

Her primary concern was that the power plants were working to implement the NRC's post-Fukishima standards and safety procedures.

When asked about the history of problems and leaks at the Palisades, MacFarlane said the Palisades was working "adequately" and she had no concerns about leaks.

Cook is licensed to operate until 2037, while Palisades is licensed until 2031.


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