Courier-Leader & Flashes

Palisades Nuclear Plant shuts down early

COVERT – Control room operators at Entergy’s Palisades Power Plant safely removed the nuclear reactor from service for the final time on May 20. The plant was originally scheduled to permanently shut down on May 31, but after careful monitoring, operators made the conservative decision to shut down the plant early due to the performance of a control rod drive seal. The final shut down marks the end of more than 50 successful years of safe, secure, and reliable generation of clean, carbon-free electricity at Palisades, which began commercial operation in 1971, according to a press release from Entergy.
Following the safe removal of used fuel from the reactor, the facility will be transferred to Holtec International for purposes of a safe and timely decommissioning, under the terms of an agreement between Entergy and Holtec International. Announced in 2017, the shutdown of Palisades completes Entergy’s strategy to exit the merchant power generation business and coincides with the expiration of the station’s 15-year power purchase agreement with Consumers Energy. “The enduring legacy of Palisades is the thousands of men and women who safely, reliably, and securely operated the plant, helping power Southwest Michigan homes and businesses for more than 50 years,” said Darrell Corbin, site vice president. “We refer to a credo at Palisades: ‘Palisades Proud.’ Thanks to the pride, professionalism, and hard work of our 600-member team, we finished Palisades Proud. We are also grateful to the local community for its support of the plant and for the strong partnership we have enjoyed all these years.”
The shutdown completes a remarkable operating history for the 800-megawatt facility. The facility shut down after continuously generating electricity for 577 days since it was last refueled – a site and world record production run for a plant of its kind. Palisades remains ranked in the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s highest safety category and is regarded by its peers as one of the top performers in the industry.
Following Entergy’s shutdown announcement in 2017, Entergy made several commitments to its employees at Palisades, including:
Any employee willing to relocate to another Entergy facility would be provided a job for which they were qualified. Approximately 130 employees have accepted a job offer from Entergy within the southern utility service territory.
As part of the company’s sale agreement with Holtec International, the new owner of the plant post-shutdown will hire approximately 260 current Palisades employees for the first phase of decommissioning. Holtec agreed to honor existing collective bargaining agreement contracts with union employees.
Approximately 180 employees at Palisades will separate from the company; more than half of those employees are retirement eligible.
In December 2021, the NRC approved the request to transfer the license from Entergy to Holtec International for purposes of the safe and timely decommissioning of Palisades following the plant’s permanent shutdown and reactor defuel. The license transfer is scheduled for this summer.
Holtec filings with the NRC detail its plans to complete the dismantling, decontamination, and remediation of Palisades to NRC standards by 2041, more than 40 years sooner than if Entergy continued to own the facility and selected the maximum 60-year NRC SAFSTOR option for decommissioning. A safe and timely decommissioning is welcomed news for the plant community, which stands to benefit from potential site reuse.

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