The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Tel: 301.270.2209

Press Availability and Statement by Arnold Gundersen, Chief Engineer, Fairewinds

re: Scheme to Restart the Permanently Closed Palisades Atomic Reactor


Coverrt Township, Van Buren County, MI, November 14, 2022--Arnold Gundersen is Chief Engineer at Fairewinds. Gundersen, a world renowned nuclear power safety watchdog, and nuclear engineer with more than a half-century of experience, served as expert witness on behalf of a local grassroots and national environmental coalition intervening against a major rollback on safety at the Palisades atomic reactor in 2014. For decades, Palisades has been the worst neutron-embrittled reactor pressure vessel in the country, and perhaps the world. Gundersen also served as an expert witness for Friends of the Earth, a leading national environmental group, which culminated in the permanent shutdown of two atomic reactors at the San Onofre nuclear power plant in San Clemente, CA in 2013. And also in 2013, Gundersen served as expert witness for Beyond Nuclear and Don't Waste Michigan on quality assurance in their oppositional intervention against DTE's still-stagnated Fermi 3 atomic reactor new build scheme in Monroe County, MI. (Learn more about Arnie Gundersen's expertise, here.)

Arnold Gundersen has released the following statement to the news media, and is available for one-on-one interviews:

"There are some very important questions for Holtec International to answer regarding its risky and costly scheme to restart the dangerously age-degraded Palisades atomic reactor, which the previous owner Entergy closed for good on May 20, 2022.

First, how many workers were there at Palisades on May 20, 2022, and how many are there today? How long would it take to restaff to the previous level, including training new workers?

Second, how many licensed reactor operators were there at Palisades on May 20, 2022, and how many are there today? How long would it take to restaff to the previous level, including training new control room operators? Or does Holtec simply plan to hire another company to actually operate the Palisades atomic reactor on its behalf? How long would it take to find and enter into a contract with such a company? Which companies are in the running for such a role? DTE?

Third, is there fresh nuclear fuel onsite? If not, how long would it take to order fresh fuel, and have it delivered to Palisades? How much would it cost? I estimate $50 million.

Fourth, how long will it take for Holtec International to obtain an operating license from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which it currently lacks for the Palisades atomic reactor?

Fifth, how long will it take for Holtec International to establish a quality assurance/quality control program for reactor operations at Palisades, which it currently lacks?

Sixth, does Holtec International plan to address the Palisades atomic reactor's need for a replacement vessel head, as well as for replacement steam generators, before commencing full power reactor operations? What about lingering embrittlement concerns, and the chronic control rod drive mechanism seal leakage that has plagued Palisades for 50 years, including leading to its permanent shutdown 11 days earlier than planned, on May 20, 2022?

Finally, how much would it cost, and who would pay, for retained staff to remain onsite while the reactor is unable to operate and generate electricity, due to: a lack of fresh fuel; an insufficient number of trained workers, including control room operators; the need to establish a quality assurance/control program; and numerous needed major safety significant repairs and replacements?

600 employees sitting around for a year costs half a billion bucks. TO PRODUCE NOTHING.
This is a fair question, since Holtec has applied for hundreds of millions to billions of dollars of federal taxpayer money to restart Palisades, and has also demanded a State of Michigan taxpayer and/or ratepayer bailout as well. How large will these bailouts be? More than a billion dollars in each case? Just to operate Palisades for a few short years?"

Beyond Nuclear aims to educate and activate the public about the connections between nuclear power and nuclear weapons and the need to abandon both to safeguard our future. Beyond Nuclear advocates for an energy future that is sustainable, benign and democratic.

(301) 270-2209