Mass. Congressional Delegation Urges NRC to Reject Pilgrim Request

COURTESY PILGRIM NUCLEAR POWER STATION

COURTESY PILGRIM NUCLEAR POWER STATION

WASHINGTON – The full Massachusetts congressional delegation has asked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to deny a request by the owners of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant to delay the implementation of federally-mandated post-Fukushima safety requirements.

Earlier this year, plant-owner Entergy asked the NRC for an extension on its requirement to upgrade boiling-water reactors to include hardened containment vents. Following the Fukushima disaster, federal regulators issued a new policy mandating plants in the U.S. with similar designs to make safety upgrades.

Entergy officials asked for an extension on the upgrades until December 31, 2019. The station is scheduled to close no later than June 1, 2019.

In a letter to the NRC, the Massachusetts delegation said Entergy’s request runs “directly counter” to the company’s responsibility to keep the public safe.

“Entergy’s request for an extension…would effectively exempt Pilgrim from the NRC’s requirement,” the legislators wrote. “If approved…it would increase the risk of a containment failure and a catastrophic radioactive release in the event of a terrorist attack or a severe accident.”

The NRC approved a similar request by the Osyter Creek nuclear plant in New Jersey last year. That station is scheduled to cease operations by the end of 2019.

“Entergy has a paramount responsibility to minimize the risk of catastrophic accident similar to the one that occurred at Fukushima,” the delegation wrote. “Exempting Pilgrim from the NRC’s safety requirements would allow Entergy to abdicate that responsibility, unjustifiably exposing Massachusetts communities to danger.”

NRC Spokesperson Neil Sheehan said the Commission will review the letter and respond in a timely manner.

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