Documentary Screening to Prepare Residents for Pilgrim Shutdown

PLYMOUTH – A film to be screened this weekend in Plymouth could provide some insight into the process of closing the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station.

The feature-length documentary “Power Struggle” chronicles the shut down and decommissioning of the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant, which is the same model reactor and owned by the same company, Entergy, as Pilgrim.

“Power Struggle” will be screened Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Spire Center for Performing Arts on Court Street.

Vermont Yankee closed in December of 2014 and Entergy has scheduled a shutdown of Pilgrim in spring of 2019.

“What is happening now with the decommissioning and dismantling of Vermont Yankee could set a precedent of how Pilgrim is decommissioned,” said Robbie Leppzer, the director and a producer of the film.

Other than having the same owner and being the same model of reactor, both plants face similar challenges when it comes to handling spent fuel.

“Both Vermont Yankee and the Pilgrim Nuclear reactor have huge quantities of highly toxic radioactive nuclear waste that will be left onsite indefinitely into the future because there is no place to put this waste,” Leppzer said.

“And the waste itself is dangerous for a quarter of a million years.”

Leppzer took on the project when he found out that Vermont was the only state in the country with a legislature which was empowered to make a decision about the future operation of a nuclear power plant.

“I became really interested as a documentary filmmaker to chronicle this process of citizens being really engaged in an issue they feel passionately about, and in this case the future of energy and the safety of their communities, to want to show this process as it unfolded,” Leppzer said.

“Little did I know that it would take five years and little did I know the what the outcome was when I started.”

Leppzer said the film will show residents in Southeastern Massachusetts that the public can make a difference.

“The major takeaway from this film is that citizens can have a voice, citizens can effect change,” he said. “And in Vermont they had a huge impact on the outcome of what happened with Vermont Yankee.”

Leppzer said the decommissioning of the Pilgrim plant will be much more dangerous without public involvement.

“In order for the process to be more transparent and for better decisions to be made citizens do need to be involved,” he said.

A panel discussion will follow the film with Leppzer; Heather Lightner, a Plymouth resident and member of Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel; Mary Lampert, of Pilgrim Watch; Pine duBois, of Jones River Watershed Association; Diane Turco, of Cape Downwinders; and Schuyler Gould, of the New England Coalition on Nuclear Pollution.


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