Groups Demand DOE EIS Before Agency Bails Out Palisades Zombie Reactor Restart

Yard signs created by Michigan Safe Energy Future's Kalamazoo Chapter and Shutdown Palisades Campaign.

For immediate releaseContact: Terry Lodge, environmental coalition co-counsel, (419) 205-7084, [email protected]
Michael Keegan, Co-Chair, Don’t Waste Michigan, (734) 770-1441, [email protected]
Kevin Kamps, radioactive waste specialist, Beyond Nuclear, (240) 462-3216, [email protected]

Environmental Coalition Demands DOE Prepare EIS before Bailing Out Palisades for Unprecedented Restart

NEPA Requires “Major Federal Project” Hard Look, Groups Assert

Covert Township, MI and Washington, DC, September 20, 2023– Legal counsel for Beyond Nuclear, Don’t Waste Michigan, and Michigan Safe Energy Future, have written the Energy Secretary and the Loan Programs Office director at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), demanding National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) compliance before DOE awards Holtec International a requested $1 billion risk- and interest-free nuclear loan guarantee, backed by U.S. taxpayer dollars.

The billion dollar federal loan, which Holtec does not have to pay back, is the linchpin in Holtec’s reactor restart scheme, also backed by Michigan’s governor, Gretchen Whitmer, as well as the state legislature. The State of Michigan has already gifted Holtec with $150 million towards the restart, although Holtec requested twice that. The state handout is contingent on the much larger federal bailout. A Power Purchase Agreement was just announced between Holtec and rural electric co-ops in Michigan (Wolverine) and Indiana (Hoosier), although how far above market rates the co-ops’ members will be forced to pay, and for how long, has not been publicly disclosed. Citing the largesse provided by the public (which most taxpayers and ratepayers are not even aware of, let alone consent to), Holtec is pressuring the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to simply reverse legally-binding, permanent shutdown filings from June 2022.

A coalition of hundreds of environmental groups, including more than fifty groups in Michigan, have written Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm — herself a former governor and attorney general of the State of Michigan — several times in the past year, urging Holtec’s requests for federal bailouts to restart Palisades be rejected.

Toledo, Ohio-based attorney Terry Lodge, and Cedar Rapids, Iowa-based attorney Wally Taylor, serve as legal co-counsel for the environmental groups. They provided DOE with a litany of pathways to catastrophic reactor core meltdown at Palisades, which Energy Secretary Granholm and Loan Programs Office Director Shah have been asked by Holtec to bankroll. The severe safety risks include: the most neutron radiation-embrittled reactor pressure vessel in the country, at risk of pressurized thermal shock through-wall fracture; a reactor vessel closure head in need of replacement for more than two decades; steam generators in need of replacement for more than two decades, as well; and the worst control rod drive mechanism seal leaks in industry.

There is no indication that, even with $1.15 billion, or more, in federal and state subsidies, Holtec will fix any of those severe safety problems before restarting the long problem-plagued reactor.

Lodge and Taylor also pointed out that restarting Palisades’ more than half-century old reactor would lead to the generation of another 20 metric tons per year of highly radioactive irradiated nuclear fuel. The high-level radioactive waste stored on-site since 1971 already poses its own severe risks, including violating NRC earthquake safety regulations. Palisades’ dry cask storage is perched on the very edge of Lake Michigan, a major headwaters of the entire Great Lakes, 84% of North America’s surface fresh water, and drinking water supply to 40 million people in eight U.S. states, two Canadian provinces, and a very large number of Indigenous Nations.

“Sometimes joy rides end badly,” said Kevin Kamps, radioactive waste specialist at Beyond Nuclear, who has watchdogged Palisades for more than three decades. “This zombie reactor restart scheme not only threatens residents’ pocketbooks, it also risks a large-scale radioactive catastrophe for health, safety, and the environment downwind, downstream, up the food chain, and down the generations,” Kamps added.

“There has been no due diligence,” said Michael Keegan, co-chair of Don’t Waste Michigan in Monroe, who has also watchdogged Palisades for several decades. “Palisades is a cauldron of culpability, implicating officials in various agencies at the highest levels of the state and federal governments,” Keegan added.

Attorney Terry Lodge stated, “Holtec’s requested billion dollar DOE loan guarantee is at the very heart of the company’s plan to seek a nuclear power plant operating license from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Significant changes have taken place at the power plant since the time of its then-permanent shutdown in May 2022 which, coupled with the unprecedented nature of reversing an inoperable and delicensed nuclear reactor to licensed, operable status, require DOE to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement.”

“The invisible hand of the market has spoken, and Palisades did not make the cut,” said Keegan. “The DOE’s perversion of the competitive market has fostered moral hazards every which way. Palisades places Lake Michigan and surrounding environs at great peril, and is destined to become the Poster Child of what not to do at a nuclear power plant,” Keegan added.


Beyond Nuclear is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit membership organization. Beyond Nuclear aims to educate and activate the public about the connections between nuclear power and nuclear weapons and the need to abolish both to safeguard our future. Beyond Nuclear advocates for an energy future that is sustainable, benign and democratic. The Beyond Nuclear team works with diverse partners and allies to provide the public, government officials, and the media with the critical information necessary to move humanity toward a world beyond nuclear. Beyond Nuclear: 7304 Carroll Avenue, #182, Takoma Park, MD 20912. [email protected].


[Photo credit: Kevin Kamps. Yard sign design credit: Michigan Safe Energy Future-Kalamazoo Chapter and Shut Down Palisades Campaign.]

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