Regulators: Work environment improves at Palisades plant

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COVERT TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - The work environment has improved at Palisades Nuclear Plant in southwestern Michigan following concerns that drew attention last year, federal regulators said.

In a report issued Wednesday, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said its inspectors in December found there is no longer a "chilled work environment" in the security department at the plant along Lake Michigan in Van Buren County's Covert Township.

"The inspectors determined that a chilled work environment currently does not exist and there has been improvement in the overall security department work environment," the report states. "All of the individuals interviewed were willing to raise safety concerns and the vast majority of individuals were willing to do so without fear of retaliation.

"In addition, individuals were not being discouraged from raising safety issues," it says.

An inspection also was held in May, and the commission said the work environment has improved since then.

Still, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said that some security workers continue to have concerns about the work environment and morale. Regulators have said they want to make sure that workers feel comfortable reporting possible problems.

"The NRC will continue to monitor for safety conscious work environment issues to assess the sustainability of improvements seen to date through regular inspections by resident inspectors at the plant and specialist inspectors performing focused inspections," NRC spokeswoman Viktoria Mitlyng said in an email.

The plant is owned by New Orleans-based Entergy (NYSE: ETR). Spokeswoman Lindsay Rose told the Kalamazoo Gazette that Entergy expects all employees to be able to raise safety concerns. She told the Holland Sentinel that efforts will continue to improve trust with workers.

"This is not an issue that we're going to drop and wash our hands of it and say we're done with it," Rose said. "We need, with all of our workers, to continue to engage with them and make sure they all understand their responsibility for raising concerns."

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