Arnie Gundersen on Palisades
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This 17-minute recording of Arnie Gundersen, chief engineer at Fairewinds, was made on Monday, September 11, 2023, before a live audience at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan, about 40 miles downwind of the Palisades atomic reactor, located on the Lake Michigan shoreline in Covert Township, southwest Michigan. Arnie’s presentation was part of a day-long teach-in on nuclear issues, co-sponsored by Don’t Waste Michigan and Beyond Nuclear.
Holtec International, with the backing of Michigan’s governor, Gretchen Whitmer, and state legislature, as well as the U.S. Department of Energy (headed by a former Michigan governor and state attorney general, Jennifer Granholm), is scheming to restart the closed Palisades reactor, which is unprecedented. The state and federal taxpayer bailouts for the restart could add up to $2.5 billion. A recently announced Power Purchase Agreement, betweeen Holtec and Wolverine (Michigan) and Hoosier (Indiana) rural electric co-ops, will gouge ratepayers, to Holtec’s benefit. (The PPA was announced shortly after Arnie made this presentation.) In addition, Holtec has proposed building four so-called Small Nuclear Reactors on the same site, using another $7.4 billion in Dept. of Energy loan guarantees.
Arnie also served as expert witness for Don’t Waste Michigan and Beyond Nuclear, as well as Michigan Safe Energy Future, in 2014-2015. The environmental coalition resisted yet another weakening of pressurized thermal shock safety standards by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). In April 2013, NRC was forced by watchdog questioning to admit that Palisades had the worst neutron-embrittled reactor pressure vessel in the country. A close second is Point Beach Unit 2, just across Lake Michigan on Wisconsin’s shoreline. Diablo Canyon Unit 1 in California, also being propped up by state and federal bailouts rather than shut down for good in 2024 as long planned, is also among the very worst embrittled reactor pressure vessels in the U.S. (See page 5 of 15 on the PDF counter, item #4, in this NRC document.)
Arnie and the Fairewinds team produced a humorous educational video (6 minutes 30 seconds long) at the time, “Nuclear Crack Down?” Watch it here.
He also penned an essay about the risks of a nuclear power catastrophe on the shores of the Great Lakes, “Downstream.” Read it here.
[Photo credit: Kevin Kamps. Yard sign design by Michigan Safe Energy Future-Kalamazoo Chapter and Shut Down Palisades Campaign.]
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