Great Lakes News

Great Lakes News

Nuclear Plant Leaks Oil into Lake Michigan


About 2,000 gallons are believed to have leaked into Lake Michigan from a southwestern Michigan nuclear plant, according to a Detroit Free Press article.

According to plant officials at the Donald C. Cook Nuclear Plant, the leak was from an oil cooling system on the turbine and had reportedly been leaking into Lake Michigan for about two months.

The leak was reported to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, as well as local and state authorities, on December 20. A retroactive examination of system oil levels lead plant officials to believe that the oil leaked at about 0.04 gallons per minute, and that the leak had been occurring since about October 25, according to the article.

According to Bill Schalk, communications manager for the Cook Nuclear Plant, it took time to identify the leak because a variety of factors can account for changes in the oil levels in the system, including lake temperatures, as explained in the article.

An exact location for the leak has not yet been determined, but workers have isolated the cooling system tank in which in leak is occurring. The tank will not return to service until there is no further potential for leaking, Schalk said in the article.

The oil is not contaminated with radiation because the turbine system is separate from radioactive facilities, Schalk told the newspaper.

Photo courtesy of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission 

South Shore JUN17