The Palisades Nuclear Plant Demands a Clear Risk-Based Analysis for Successful Reopening


The debate around restarting mothballed nuclear power plants is gaining momentum in the U.S., illustrated by the decision to revive the long-dormant Palisades Nuclear Plant. This pioneering move, marking the first such initiative in the nation, underscores a broader conversation about energy resilience and the strategic recalibration of America’s energy assets. Experts say to ensure quality restarts of power generation at the plant, a clear risk-based analysis is key for success.

The Palisades Nuclear Plant in Michigan is en route to reopening its doors after receiving a $1.52 billion federal loan. A few key things are still up in the air before the plant can start to contribute to the nation’s 100% renewable energy by 2035 goal. Mainly, the Palisades Nuclear Plant’s operator, Holtec, needs to get restoration approval from the nuclear regulatory commission, approving the relaunch of a station that ran for 45 years.

The task is fraught with complexities, from navigating stringent regulatory landscapes to managing the logistics of an aging supply chain that hasn’t supported new builds in over three decades, all shaped but the pragmatic safety considerations of relaunching a nuclear power plant that’s laid dormant for several years.

Is reopening the Palisades Nuclear Plant a risk, or is it primed for a successful restart? The Honorable Bud Albright, who brings over 30 years of experience in both the U.S. Department of Justice and the energy sector, gives his perspective on the feasibility, risks, and strategic implications of such a restart, and helps give some guidance on paths forward in this critical discourse.

“There are risks that are clearly unknown simply because it’s the first of a kind. I anticipate that those are relatively limited, limited risks. I think the things that I would be most concerned with, major issues, would be the NRC review,” Albright said. “What’s the standard going to be? Will they be using scientifically sound risk-based analysis as they do their analysis?”

Article written by Daniel Litwin.

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