Local State Senators File Bill to Strengthen Pilgrim Advisory Panel

COURTESY PILGRIM NUCLEAR POWER STATION

PLYMOUTH – A bill has been filed by local legislators to strengthen the Nuclear Decommissioning Advisory Panel for the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station.

Plymouth and Barnstable State Senator Vinny deMacedo, who filed the bill, and co-sposonor on the legislation, Cape and Islands State Senator Julian Cyr, discussed the bill Tuesday afternoon in Plymouth.

Cyr said the bill would make the panel more effective and reflect the views of the residents in Southeastern Massachsuetts.

“The aim of this is to give the decommissioning panel more teeth so they can have greater oversight of this plant in a really crucial phase of decommissioning,” Cyr said.

The bill would eliminate two spots on the panel  that are reserved for the plant owner representatives. It would also add two spots for residents of Barnstable County.

Pilgrim shutdown May 31 and will undergo an expedited decommissioning process by its new owner, and license holder, Holtec International.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved the license transfer for the plant from Entergy to Holtec in late August and a purchase and sale agreement was finalized a few days later.

The Cape and Islands legislative delegation, Governor Charlie Baker, Attorney General Maura Healey and other top state officials have expressed concerns over the NRC’s decision to approve a license transfer for the plant without gathering public input.

Healey has filed a lawsuit against the NRC for its failure to act on a February 2019 petition which requested an adjudicatory hearing before the federal agency to address the state’s concerns with the health, safety, environmental, and financial risks raised by Holtec’s proposal.

Cyr said state officials and lawmakers haven’t been aggressive enough in making sure local concerns were heard by the NRC.

“So long as there is spent fuel on the site, particularly spent fuel in a fuel pool that is six stories up, that is quite an ongoing risk,” Cyr said.

“And we need to everything we can to ensure public safety and public health of surrounding communities, and frankly, the whole region.”

Cyr said the NRC approved the license transfer without any due diligence or any feelings from legislators or the attorney general.

“A swift decommissioning – there are advantages to this,” Cyr said. “But real oversight and assurances around health and safety were just not made.”

State activities related to environmental monitoring around the plant and a real-time system designed to help protect local communities are not continuing. Cyr said that is because the NRC failed to require Entergy and Holtec to continue the efforts.

“This has been a process where our communities have been unheard and left out,” Cyr said. “What we are aiming to do with this bill is to give more to the advisory panel so that there is a greater level of action and scrutiny.”

Cyr said the state cannot be cautious when it comes to oversight during this critical phase of the plant.

About Brian Merchant

Brian Merchant grew up in Central Massachusetts and now lives in South Dennis on the Cape. He has been part of the news team in the CapeCod.com NewsCenter since the spring of 2014. He studied radio broadcasting at the University of Tennessee.



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