Palisades bows out after record operation run

23 May 2022

The single-unit nuclear power plant in Michigan was permanently shut down on 20 May - slightly earlier than planned - after more than 50 years in operation.

Palisades (Image: Entergy)

Entergy in 2017 announced that it would shut the 805 MWe pressurised water reactor this year, with the plant's closure coinciding with the expiration of a 15-year power purchase agreement with Consumers Energy. The unit had been scheduled to permanently shut down on 31 May, but operators decided to shut down the plant ahead of the scheduled date due to the performance of a control rod drive seal.

Palisades began commercial operation in 1971 and its closure ended 577 days of continuous electricity generation since its last refuelling, which Entergy said is a site and world record production run for a plant of its kind.

"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," site Vice President Darrell Corbin said. He thanked the local community for its support of the plant.

Entergy in 2018 agreed to sell Palisades to Holtec International after its closure. The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has already approved the transfer of the plant's licence to Holtec for purposes of the safe and timely decommissioning following the plant's permanent shutdown. The licence transfer is expected to take place later this summer, after the reactor has been defuelled. Holtec plans to complete the dismantling, decontamination, and remediation of Palisades to NRC standards by 2041.

As part of the sale agreement, Holtec will hire about 260 of Palisades' current team of around 600 employees for the first phase of decommissioning. Around 130 Palisades employees have accepted employment elsewhere with Entergy. Of the 180 Palisades employees who are to "separate" from the company, more than half are retirement eligible, Entergy said.

Closure of the plant marks Entergy's exit from the merchant power generation business.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News