Great Lakes community contemplates nuclear plant closure via Marketplace

Back in the 1970s and ’80s, Great Lakes beaches were the perfect spot for nuclear power plants. The fresh water helped cool nuclear reactors and small, lakeshore towns got jobs. Today nuclear power plants are finding it hard to compete with cheaper energy sources, forcing some to shut down. That’s divided one community on Lake Michigan that relies on Palisades Nuclear Power Plant.


Closing nuclear power plants can devastate a small town, and not just because people will be out of work. Van Buren County Administrator Doug Cultra said Palisades employees are often community leaders. They’re soccer coaches and school board members.

“We’re talking about some highly skilled, intelligent people, and it’s disappointing to think we’ll lose some of those people,” he said.

Covert Public Schools gets about half its funding from taxes on Palisades Nuclear Plant — $4 million a year. Most of Covert’s students are low-income, and many are minorities. However, for three years in a row, the district has outperformed similar schools. Those dollars make a difference, said Superintendent Bobbi Morehead.

“Our children … they definitely beat the odds every day,” she said.


The memory of Palisades will continue long after it closes. Its owner, Louisiana-based Entergy Corp., will have to tear down the buildings and clean up any contamination at the site. That could take up to 60 years.

The radioactive waste will stay on the Lake Michigan shoreline until the federal government finds a permanent storage site for spent nuclear fuel. Palisades officials said the waste will be safe in 20-foot-tall canisters called casks.

“The casks are steel and concrete, weigh thousands of pounds and can withstand natural disasters,” said Val Gent, senior communications specialist for Palisades.

Residents like Neiss aren’t as confident in the safety of the radioactive waste.

“I’m sure it’s as safe as they can possibly make it, but to know that it’s sitting there on the beach is not a comforting thing,” he said.

Read more and listen to the program at Great Lakes community contemplates nuclear plant closure 

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2 Responses to Great Lakes community contemplates nuclear plant closure via Marketplace

  1. yukimiyamotodepaul says:

    I feel like education held hostage…

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