Barnstable County Official Submitting Concerns About Pilgrim Transfer to NRC


BARNSTABLE – A Barnstable County official is expressing concerns about what he said is the lack of public input gathered by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission before it approved a license transfer for the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station.

The federal regulatory agency approved the transfer of the license from Entergy to Holtec International last month for the decommissioning of the shutdown Plymouth facility.

Holtec plans an expedited decommissioning of the plant with ten years.

The transfer was approved even though the NRC did not hold any public hearings which were requested by top state official.

A public hearing was held in Plymouth earlier this month to gather input from the public and the state’s Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel on the decommissioning of nuclear power plants.

The NRC is required by the Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act to present a report to Congress regarding the best practices of community advisory boards in areas surrounding decommissioned nuclear power plants after completing meetings across the nation.

Citizens and elected officials alike were not happy with what they claimed was the NRC’s lack of transparency with the Holtec purchase. The NRC approved the license transfer on August 22, and the sale agreement was finalized days later.

Barnstable County Department of Health and Environment Director and Emergency Preparedness Coordinator Sean O’Brien attended that meeting in Plymouth.

O’Brien voiced concerns last week before the Barnstable County Board of Regional Commissioners.

“What came to light pretty quickly (at the meeting) was the transfer of the license happened in sort of a vacuum,” he said.

O’Brien asked the commissioners if he could write a letter to the NRC outlining the county’s concerns with the license transfer review process.

“We saw an approval of a transfer of the license that happened with no public input,” O’Brien said.

“Besides no public input there was no government input either.”

He said the Town of Plymouth was not even able to relay concerns to the federal agency.

O’Brien said it is important for Barnstable County to provide input and the decommissioning of Pilgrim is a Cape Cod issue.

The NRC is currently accepting public comments on the best ways to receive input in regards to the decommissioning of nuclear power plants and the development of local advisory panels.

Commissioners asked O’Brien to provide a draft of his letter to be reviews on Wednesday, September 25 before it is submitted.

O’Brien said the decommissioning of nuclear power plants can have impacts on public health and the environment.

“You are moving spent fuel rods around on that property,” O’Brien said.

He is also concerned that Holtec did not need to require supporting offsite emergency management throughout the decommissioning process.

All the spent fuel at the plant will be stored onsite.

There are also concerns about Holtec’s ability to complete the decommissioning.

“Holtec is a litte new at this game, so we have heard,” O’Brien said. “I don’t think they have done the closure of a plant before.”

The company is seeking to decommission upwards of a half dozen plants at the same time.

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