Sunday, January 4, 2015

Cook Nuclear Plant Leaking oil into Lake Michigan

Cook Nuclear Plant in Bridgman has been leaking oil into Lake Michigan

Julie Mack | jmack1@mlive.comBy Julie Mack | 
on January 04, 2015 at 12:38 PM, updated January 04, 2015 at 1:13 PM
BRIDGMAN, MI -- Donald C. Cook Nuclear Plant in Bridgman has leaked an estimated 2,000 gallons of oil into Lake Michigan since Oct. 25, according to an event notification posted on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission website.
Cook nuclear plant
Plant officials notified the NRC, plus state and local officials, on Dec. 20 about the leak, which is from the Unit 2 main turbine lube oil cooler.
The notification said that "no visible oil or oil sheen is present on Lake Michigan or the shore line."
The leak was isolated as of 10:30 a.m. Dec. 20, the notice said. "Leak repairs will be made to the cooler prior to placing back in service."
Bill Schalk, the spokesman for Cook, could not be immediately reached by the Kalamazoo Gazette for comment Sunday.
However, he told the Detroit Free Press that the leak involved an oil cooling system on the two-turbine plant's Unit 2 main turbine. The series of tubes runs in a heat exchanger where hot oil is cooled by water from Lake Michigan. It's believed the oil leaked into a tube or tubes and was mixed into the cooling water, Schalk told the Free Press.
The turbine system is separate from the plant's radioactive facilities, so the leaked oil is not contaminated with radiation, the Free Press reported.
Schalk told the Free Press that it took awhile for plant officials to realize that a leak was occurring because it was a small leak and the plant discharges 1.5 million gallons of water a minute.
In August, plant officials issued a report that 8,700 gallons of diesel fuel were suspected to have been released from a buried fuel oil tank, but later said there was no leak and the report resulted from "instrumentation error."
Both Unit 1 and Unit 2 were shut down for two days in early November after excessive debris from large waves from Lake Michigan damaged several water screens.
The plant is located near Bridgman, 11 miles south of St. Joseph in Southwest Michigan's Berrien County along the Lake Michigan shoreline. Unit 2 went into operation in 1978.
The plant is owned by American Electric Power and operated by Indiana Michigan Power, an AEP subsidiary.
Julie Mack covers K-12 education and writes a column for Kalamazoo Gazette. Email her at, call her at 269-350-0277 or follow her on Twitter at @kzjuliemack.

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