Palisades Nuclear Watchdogs to Gov. Whitmer: Freeze $150 Million Legislature Approved for Unprecedented Reactor Restart on June 28
NEWS FROM BEYOND NUCLEAR
For immediate release
Contact: Kevin Kamps, radioactive waste specialist, Beyond Nuclear, (240) 462-3216, [email protected]
Terry Lodge, Legal Counsel, (419) 205-7084, [email protected]
Michael Keegan, Co-Chair, Don’t Waste Michigan, (734) 770-1441, [email protected]
Palisades Nuclear Watchdogs to Gov. Whitmer: Freeze $150 Million Legislature Approved for Unprecedented Reactor Restart on June 28th
Fired Holtec CFO Turned Whistleblower Alleges Company Hid $750 Million in Expected Losses, Raising Doubts about Veracity of Safety Commitments
WASHINGTON, DC and COVERT TWP., MI, July 10, 2023 — Long-time Palisades atomic reactor environmental watchdog organizations, in light of just reported whistleblower allegations against Holtec International, have written Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, urging she freeze the transfer of $150 million from the state government to the company. The grant was just approved by the Michigan State Legislature on June 28th, and is intended to support the unprecedented restart of the closed reactor. For more than a year, an environmental coalition has resisted the “zombie” reactor restart as not only astronomically expensive, but also very high risk to safety, security, health, and the environment.
On July 7th, in an article by Amanda Oglesby entitled “Ex-Holtec CFO accuses company of ‘make believe’ financial statements in whistleblower suit,’ the Asbury Park Press in New Jersey reported that Holtec’s former Chief Financial Officer, Kevin O’Rourke, has alleged Holtec CEO, Krishna Singh, the company, and a dozen yet to be named Holtec employees, violated New Jersey whistleblower protection law. O’Rourke accuses Singh of firing him for refusing to sign off, and put his name on financial misrepresentations intended to secure major financial investment from South Korean firm Hyundai Engineering and Construction, for Holtec’s small modular reactor development initiative.
“If the whistleblower is telling the truth, and Holtec concealed $750 million in expected losses, why should Governor Whitmer believe anything about supposed commitments they make to a safe Palisades restart?”, said Terry Lodge, attorney for the two groups, Beyond Nuclear and Don’t Waste Michigan.
O’Rourke claims that he was ordered by Holtec’s CEO, Krishna Singh, to tell Hyundai Engineering and Construction that Holtec expected to “break even” during the first five years of operations of its proposed nuclear waste facility in New Mexico, when Holtec’s internal projection was actually a $150,000,000 annual loss for those five years. Beyond Nuclear and Don’t Waste Michigan, along with additional environmental groups across the country, are challenging Holtec’s consolidated interim storage facility (CISF) in federal appellate court.
“It’s as if Dracula was placed in charge of a blood bank. If the whistleblower is just right on only one-third of his Holtec fraud estimate of $750,000,000, the Palisades decommissioning fund will be sucked dry by Holtec, leaving Michigan with the carcass,” said Arnie Gundersen, chief engineer at Fairewinds, who has served for a decade as an expert witness for the environmental coalition, against rollbacks of safety regulations at Palisades.
The July 10th letter sent on behalf of Don’t Waste Michigan and Beyond Nuclear by Lodge to Whitmer states: “We request that you impose an immediate administrative freeze on the expenditure of any of the $150,000,000 appropriated by the Legislature on June 28, 2023, for Holtec’s restart of Palisades until there are unconditional assurances that Holtec’s management is operating honestly and wholly within the law.”
The two groups spearheaded a coalition letter to all 148 Michigan state legislators on June 28th, urging opposition to Holtec’s request for $150 million for the Palisades restart. Forty-three Michigan groups, including the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter, the Board of Directors of the statewide Anishinaabek Caucus of the Michigan Democratic Party, as well as the Native-led Citizens’ Resistance at Fermi Two (CRAFT), Michigan Climate Action Network, Washtenaw350, For Love of Water, Freshwater Future, and Clean Water Action Michigan, to name just several of the Michigan organizations which endorsed the letter. The coalition’s members and supporters represent hundreds of thousands of Michiganders. However, just several hours after the letter was sent to Michigan legislators, the Palisades restart bailout was nevertheless approved by both legislative chambers, as part of an $82 billion omnibus budget bill.
“If Kevin O’Rourke is vindicated in a court of law, then to Holtec’s and Krishna Singh’s implication in serial bribery must now be added financial fraud,” said Kevin Kamps, radioactive waste specialist at Beyond Nuclear, based in Takoma Park, Maryland. “Holtec cannot be trusted to safely restart Palisades, to barge high-level radioactive wastes on Lake Michigan for transfer onto trains bound for New Mexico, nor to build new so-called Small Modular Nuclear Reactors at the Palisades site,” Kamps 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]. www.beyondnuclear.org.
Support Beyond Nuclear
Help to ensure a safer, greener and more just world for all