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Agency: Palisades safer but culture flaws linger

Published on NewsOK Modified: June 26, 2014 at 8:08 pm •  Published: June 26, 2014

SOUTH HAVEN, Mich. (AP) — The Palisades Nuclear Plant's operators have improved their safety performance, but work culture problems persist at the Lake Michigan shoreline facility, a federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission official said Thursday.

The safety agency held a public meeting Thursday night to discuss its new assessment of the southeastern Michigan plant. It was held in South Haven, about 5 miles from the plant in Van Buren County's Covert Township.

Before the meeting, commission Regional Administrator Cynthia Pederson told The Associated Press that her agency's recent assessment found positive changes in operations at the plant but also some ongoing issues.

The plant is owned by New Orleans-based Entergy Corp. and has had numerous shutdowns in recent years. It was downgraded in 2012 to a category designating the nation's worst-performing nuclear plants. But the Nuclear Regulatory Commission moved Palisades back to the list of top performers the same year, and it remained there in the most recent assessment.

"We have observed improved performance overall at this location," Pederson said in a telephone interview.

The persistent concerns involve what a recent commission letter to plant operators referred to as a "chilled work environment," Pederson said.

"We as a regulatory body do not regulate culture. We regulate performance," she said. And in that regard, she said Palisades' operators are doing better.

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