NRC to Gather Decommissioning Feedback

COURTESY PILGRIM NUCLEAR POWER STATION

PLYMOUTH – The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will host a public meeting Thursday in Plymouth to discuss the decommissioning of nuclear power plants and to receive feedback on community advisory boards.

The meeting at Hotel 1620 from 6 to 9 p.m. is part of a series across the country over the next several months on the same topic.

Under Section 108 of the Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act, which became law on January 14, the NRC is required to prepare a report for Congress on the best practices of community advisory boards in communities around decommissioning nuclear power plants.

When Entergy announced the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth would be shutting down the state created a Pilgrim Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel.

That panel has been meeting on a regular basis and have already had some extensive discussions about what they would like to see happen at the plant. Pilgrim shut down its reactor at the end of May.

“We’d like to hear firsthand from those people and from others around the country about what is the best way to increase community participation when it comes to the decommissioning of nuclear power plants in people’s backyards,” said Neil Sheehan, an NRC spokesman.

NRC staff will provide will make an opening presentation on NEIMA Section 108 before receiving feedback from community officials or members of the Pilgrim Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel.

The chair of the state’s NDCAP, Sean Mullin, voiced concerns with the NRC’s approval of the license transfer for the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station.

The NRC approved the license transfer from Entergy Corp. to Holtec International on August 22 for the decommissioning of the Plymouth plant.

A sale agreement for the plant was finalized just days later.

Mullin said the decision was not surprising, but was a disgrace.

“The NRC failed to take into account the very clear and concise arguments made by the Attorney General for the Commonwealth, along with the Baker Administration and Pilgrim Watch,” Mullin said.

NRC staff concluded that Holtec met the regulatory, legal, technical and financial requirements to qualify as licensees.

Holtec plans an expedited decommissioning of the plant and expects to complete the process within ten years. Entergy was planning to decommission the plant over nearly 60 years.

Holtec has never before owned or decommissioned a commercial nuclear power plant.

The Baker-Polito administration and Attorney General Maura Healey had requested that the NRC delay the approval. The request was also supported by the entire Cape and Islands legislative delegation.

The officials said that the Commonwealth deserved a right to contest the license transfer in a hearing before the NRC.

They said further assurances were needed that Holtec has the financial and technical capacity to properly and safely decommission the plant.

The attorney general’s office also noted a lack of meaningful consultation by the NRC staff with the state in the process without any reason for an expedited review.

Healey has asked for a temporary stay on the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station’s approved license transfer from Entergy Corp. to Holtec International.

The application was submitted last week and asks that there be a stay, pending final decision on their petition seeking a public hearing on the license transfer.

“We are deeply disappointed in the NRC’s misguided decision to approve the license transfer and trust fund exemption requests, and its failure to meaningfully consult with our state prior to doing so,” said AG Healey’s spokeswoman Chloe Gotsis.

“We continue to have serious concerns about Holtec’s financial capacity, technical qualifications, and judgment to safely and properly clean up the site, and store and manage Pilgrim’s spent nuclear fuel. We are reviewing all of our available options to ensure the health, safety and interests of our residents and the environment are protected.”

In February, Healey’s office filed a request with the NRC to intervene in the license transfer application proceeding and for an adjudicatory hearing.

The NRC declined to comment as the matter is the subject of ongoing litigation.

A copy of the legal filing of AG’s Healey’s application can be viewed here: Massachusetts Stay Application.

The meeting will also provide an opportunity for the public to give feedback or ask questions.

A questionnaire will be available at the meeting to solicit information on specific topics that NEIMA Section 108 requires the NRC to include in its report to Congress on the topic.

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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