A view of the Palisades Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) in the US state of Michigan (file photo)
Authorities in the United States have found the source of radioactive leakage at a nuclear power plant in the US state of Michigan.
Investigators detected a crack around a nozzle on one of the tanks of the Palisades Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) in Michigan, confirming that the rupture has led to radioactive water being drained into Lake Michigan.
The plant, owned and operated by New Orleans-based energy corporation Entergy, ceased its nuclear operations on May 5 after the water tank surpassed its site threshold and leaked.
Authorities said about 79 gallons of “slightly radioactive water” spilled from the Palisades plant into Lake Michigan as a result of the half-inch-long crack.
The leakage originated from a 300,000-gallon tank, which injects large amounts of cool, borated water into the reactor coolant system.
Operators spent about a week and a half to locate the source of the leak. Even though authorities confirmed that the water spilled into Lake Michigan was radioactive, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) alleges that it poses no environmental threat since it was diluted.
“The NRC’s radiation dose limits are based on scientific studies and have not been shown to cause harmful health effects,” NRC spokeswoman Viktoria Mitlyng said.
She added, “The NRC regularly reviews new information to make sure the agency’s limits are optimal for protecting public health. But this was an unplanned release that should not have happened.”
Since 2012, the Palisades Nuclear Power Plant has been shut down six times as a result of leaks.
David Lochbaum, director of the Union of Concerned Scientists’ nuclear safety project, stated that it is unacceptable for the plant to suffer repeated leaks.
He called on Entergy to properly repair the plant rather than constantly patch up leaks.
Congressman Fred Upton, the chair of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, also said that the Palisades plant will remain shut until officials are sure it is safe enough to re-launch.