Nuclear Plant Leaked Oil Into Lake Michigan For Two Months


An oil leak at the Donald C. Cook Nuclear Plant near Bridgman, MI has occurred, according to nuclear plant officials.  An oil cooling system on the turbine system leaked the oil into Lake Michigan for about two months, officials at the plant estimated.  The hot oil from the turbine is cooled using the waters of Lake Michigan, which sounds like a wonderful idea, doesn’t it?



Wait, estimated?  There was a leak endangering one of Michigan’s most important natural resources and no one knew about it for over two months?

The leak was reported to U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, as well as state and local authorities, on Dec. 20, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Plant officials said:

“…believe 2,000 gallons of oil leaked into the lake, and a retroactive examination of system oil levels leads plant personnel to believe the leak may have been ongoing since about Oct. 25, said Bill Schalk, communications manager for the Cook Nuclear Plant.”

But, no need for concern, as the oil isn’t floating on top of the lake water, it has dispersed.  Yay for the residents of Southwest Michigan.  At least no radiation was released into the water:

 It’s believed the oil leaked into a tube or tubes and was mixed into the cooling water, Schalk said. The turbine system is separate from the plant’s radioactive facilities, so the leaked oil is not contaminated with radiation, he said.

So, I guess the official response is that this is bad, but it could’ve been worse?

About the Cook Nuclear Plant:

The Cook Nuclear Plant is operated by Indiana Michigan Power Co., a unit of American Electric Power headquartered in Columbus, Ohio. Its two nuclear power units have operated since 1975 and 1978 respectively, and together generate more than 2,150 megawatts of power, enough electricity for 1.5 million average homes, according to the plant’s website. NRC licenses for plant operation expire in 2034 for Unit 1; 2037 for Unit 2.

Michael Keegan, director of the nonprofit Coalition for a Nuclear-Free Great Lakes, is troubled by news of the leak.

“What’s concerning is they don’t really know the extent of the leak,” he said. “Nearly two months later is the first determination they make that they have an oil leak? It speaks to the quality assurance of all of their other systems.”

The fact that the oil is not recoverable is also problematic, Keegan said.

“There’s a belief some have that the solution to pollution is dilution. It’s not,” he said

I agree with Michael Keegan about the quality of their other systems if this problem went unnoticed/undiagnosed for over two months.  This one’s personal for me. I grew up in this area.

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