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Brief on recurring leakage past control rod seals at Palisades (07/16/2010)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) regulations (specifically Appendix B to 10 CFR Part 50) require that plant owners find and fix safety problems. At the Palisades nuclear plant in Michigan, there have been recurring leaks of reactor cooling water past the seals on the control rod drives. Such a leak forced operators to shut down the reactor on June 24, 2010, for yet another repair attempt. Workers have replaced the seals numerous times, trying different designs and materials. Workers have also modified and re-modified the ventilation system for the area where the control rod drive seals are located in attempts to prevent seal damage from high temperatures. As our brief describes, the Palisades' owner found it cannot fix this safety problem.

This is where an effective regulator would step in. Safety regulations require safety problems to be found and fixed. The NRC must stop monitoring the repetitive failures at Palisades and take the steps necessary to ensue that the proper fix is finally found.

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