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I subscribed to a Nuclear Energy Newsletter on June 7, 2012 so that I could keep track of what was going on with Palisades Nuclear Plant in Covert township, Michigan. That day someone had tweeted that a radiation monitoring station in St. Joseph County was reporting radiation levels as high as 7,139 counts per minute (CPM) for most of Northern Indiana and parts of Michigan

Normal radiation readings are between 5 and 60 CPM.

Something had to have happened and although the mainstream media wasn’t saying anything about the high readings, I suspected there was more to the story.

Screen capture of  reading of  7,034 from 'Radiation Network' website. Normal readings are between 5 and 60 CPM.

Screen capture of reading of 7,034 from ‘Radiation Network’ website. Normal readings are between 5 and 60 CPM.

Black Cat radiation website gets a reading of over 3500 for the same area. www.blackcatsystems.com/RadMap/map.html

A screen capture from Black Cat radiation website showing a reading of over 3500 for the same area. http://www.blackcatsystems.com/RadMap/map.html

EPA reading from a separate website shows the same area is in the danger zone.

EPA reading from a separate website which shows Southwest Michigan is in the danger (red) zone.

My husband said that there was a nuclear plant located in Southwest Michigan that had been named the 3rd worst nuclear plant in the nation. A report, by nuclear engineer Dave Lochbaum, a member of the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) confirmed what my husband told me and then some. Lochbaum compares the “Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Palisades nuclear plant situation to a driver trying to get out of a speeding ticket by saying their car doesn’t have a speedometer”.

It seemed VERY coincidental that THREE Radiation Monitoring Stations in different locations, but ALL within a 50-mile distance of Palisades, a nuclear power plant known to be leaky, and the 3rd worst-maintained plant in the United States, were getting dangerously high radiation readings.

Strangely enough, within a few days after the Radiation Monitoring Stations showed high radiation levels in Southwest Michigan and Northern Indiana, Reuters reported Entergy Corp had shut DOWN Palisades nuclear power plant in Michigan due to leakage from a refueling water tank.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said in a report that the company was in the midst of cooling down the reactor in order to make repairs to the refueling water tank. Palisades nuclear plant spokesman, Mark Savage, told Reuters that the plant would return to service once repairs were completed. The tank was believed to be leaking from several locations.

Palisades nuclear power plant, Covert Township Michigan

Palisades nuclear power plant, Covert Township Michigan

It took a FULL MONTH for the Palisades Nuclear Plant to be repaired. While the plant was shut down the, the Michigan Department of Community Health made Potassium Iodide pills available FREE to anyone who lived, worked or was visiting within 10 miles of Palisades nuclear plant. Congressman Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., sent a letter to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission requesting more information about the leaking cooling tank. Markey said he was concerned because, according to NRC documents, the leak was first noticed in 2011 and a  YEAR PASSED without ANYTHING being done to fix it. According to Markey’s letter, radioactive water was dripping into the plant’s Control Room and Auxiliary Building and being captured in “catch basins” with nuclear waste designators attached. Read Congressman Markey’s letter HERE.

Despite Congressman Markey’s efforts,  Palisades Nuclear Generating Plant has continued to have problems.

Early this summer, when more tank leaks led to another shutdown of the nuclear power plant, the plant owner, Entergy, patched up the leak, fired back up the reactor, and hoped for the best.

Unfortunately, the best did not materialize.

The tank began leaking again. Which didn’t concern Entergy. Palisades was only leaking a gallon a day. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission allows nuclear power plants to leak up to 38 gallons a day.

But, before the weekend was over, the leaky drip turned into a gush. All the hoping in the world couldn’t hold back the tide of spilling radioactive water. The NRC told the AP news that over 80 gallons of “slightly” radioactive water spewed into Lake Michigan.

How did the Nuclear Regulatory Commission know the water was just “slightly” radioactive?

They didn’t.

“Officials say they don’t know how radioactive the leaked water is.” Michigan Radio reported.

Spokeswoman for the Entergy plant, Viktoria Mitlyng quickly reassured the public, “The radioactive water pouring into Lake Michigan will have no impact on the health and safety of the public.” said Mitlyng “This tank has leaked before. It leaked in 2012 too. It’s a repeat occurrence.”

NRC Commissioner William C. Ostendorff

NRC Commissioner William C. Ostendorff

Palisades Nuclear Plant has been shut down nine times since 2011. The leakage in 2012 caused significant water seepage into the plant’s control room. As a result, NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko toured the plant and ordered an investigation. Jaczko’s request allegedly caused NRC Commissioner William Ostendorff to shout at top agency investigators, that “further inquiry would be a waste of resources.”

Adding to southwest Michigan and surrounding area concerns, a study by the nonprofit group, Radiation and Public Health Project links Palisades nuclear plant to increased death and cancer rates in Van Buren County. “We’re suggesting a causation,” said Joseph Mangano, executive director of the health group, “between the plant and an increase in deaths. This report is a start with a number of red flags raised.”

Major findings in the report include:

  • The plant stores massive amounts of high-level radioactive waste, mostly in a waste pool of water that must be constantly cooled to avoid a fire.
  • Palisades operated 93.5% of the time between 2006 and 2011, which means the aging and corroding reactor parts are being pushed to their maximum.
  • A 2006 report concluded that of 200 “near-miss” accidents at U.S. reactors from 1986 to 2006, four occurred at Palisades, among the highest of any U.S. reactor. Another five potentially harmful incidents occurred since 2010.
  • A 1982 federal estimate of 16,700 radiation poisoning cases and 13,000 cancer deaths after a meltdown to the Palisades reactor core would be greater today, due to higher population and effects beyond the study’s geographic limits.
  • From 2001 to 2007, sharp increases in releases from Palisades for several types of airborne and liquid radioactivity were observed in data compiled by the U.S. Environmental Protection agency.
  • In the late 1990’s, the latest data available, tritium levels in Lake Michigan at South Haven (near Palisades) exceeded those of most U.S. reactors.
  • The Van Buren County death rate from all causes was 3 to 6 percent below the state in the 1970’s and early 1980’s but has risen since, to a level 12.5% greater than Michigan (2003-2010). This change suggests that 1,330 “excess” deaths have occurred in the county since Palisades started operating. Elevated levels were observed for all age groups (especially children/young adults), both genders and all major causes of death.
  • The Van Buren County death rate for all cancers combined was 10.5% below the Michigan rate in the 1970’s, but is now 12.0% above the state (2005-2010). This rate is the highest of the 34 most populated Michigan counties.

Data presented in the Radiation and Public Health Project report suggest a link between emissions from Entergy Palisades and elevated health risk. This finding is particularly important at this time as the reactor has been operating for over 42 years. Regulatory decisions to allow the reactor to stay in operation have been made with no attention paid to the health risks.

The U.S. and other governments have been covering up nuclear meltdowns for fifty years to protect the nuclear power industry.

To this day, governments worldwide continue cover up the amount – and health effects – of radiation released by military and energy facilities. Psst…unless you have a LOT of time, don’t even get me started on the Fukushima “accident” in Japan.

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