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Entergy shuts down the Palisades Nuclear Power Plant 10 days early

Rebecca Thiele

The company announced that it had made the "conservative decision to shut the plant down early" on May 20, 2022.

After more than 50 years in operation, Entergy Corp. announced Friday that it had decided to shut down the Palisades Nuclear Power Plant in Covert Township more than a week ahead of schedule.

In a statement, the company said that "control room operators at Entergy's Palisades Power Plant safely removed the nuclear reactor from service for the final time on May 20." Originally scheduled to be permanently shut down on May 31, the statement said that operators "made the conservative decision to shut down the plant early due to the performance of a control rod drive seal.”

Val Gent, the communication specialist at the plant, described it as a practical decision. She said the rod drive seal did not pose a risk to the community and is "a piece of equipment that is easily replaceable when offline." But she said it didn't make sense to do that repair 11 days before the 800-megawatt facility along the shores of Lake Michigan was scheduled to be permanently shut down.

The Entergy Corp. decision seems to put an end to Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer's attempts to save the plant. In April, Whitmer sent a letter to U.S. Energy Secretary and former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, asking for federal emergency aid to keep Palisades from shutting down. Whitmer cited the plant as an important part of her plan to make Michigan’s energy sources carbon-neutral by 2050 because nuclear power plants generate virtually emissions-free electricity.

The plant began commercial operations in 1971. Entergy Corp. announced its plans to shut Palisades down this year in 2017.

“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, in Friday's statement. “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.”

Entergy said the plant will be transferred to Holtec International for decommissioning once the used fuel has been safely removed from the reactor.