VAN BUREN COUNTY, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) – Several security officers placed on leave at one of the country’s oldest nuclear reactors say they’re being treated as scapegoats by plant management.
This comes after the Newschannel 3 I-Team first uncovered an active investigation at the Palisades Nuclear Generating Station revolving around what plant officials describe as “fire tour anomalies.”
“I’m on paid leave right now, and I have been for almost a month,” said one of the plant workers, agreeing to speak with Newschannel 3’s I-Team on the condition of anonymity.
“Now the company [Entergy] lawyer is asking us questions, saying the NRC will be speaking with us…and that we could be criminally liable,” the worker added.
The officer also claims security workers at the plant were never trained to do fire tours.
“The training department never once trained us on fire tours,” the officer said. “Security used to have a fire brigade that had a certain number of security members on shift, but when Entergy bought the plant they got rid of that…there’s a whole fire brigade staff at that plant right now that have never trained anybody on how to do the fire tours.”
22 security officers have been placed on paid administrative leave according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Beyond Nuclear, a group known for its opposition to nuclear energy, is not mincing words about the current Palisades investigation.
“Fire itself is 50% of the risk in terms of a meltdown,” said Kevin Kamps, a radioactive waste watchdog for Beyond Nuclear. “It’s as much of a risk as all the other risks put together, terrorist attacks, natural disasters, and accidents.”
Kamps said he is also concerned about the Palisades track record, referencing several incidents in the 40 year old plant’s recent history.
“We have such collusion at Palisades, in large measure we’ve got the NRC covering up for Entergy (owner of the plant), and the NRC has allowed for fire risks to go unaddressed for decades now.”