Nuclear Decommissioning Panel Sends Recommendations to Gov. Baker


HYANNIS – The Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel issued its 2018 annual report to Governor Charlie Baker regarding the upcoming shut down of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station.

The committee has been meeting throughout the last year to advise the governor and Legislature and inform the public about all of the aspects of decommissioning the plant.

Five working groups were formed within the panel to focus on the areas of Finances and the Economy, PSDAR and Decommissioning, Safety and Security, Site Cleanup and Restoration, and Government, Community Relations and Administration. The working groups meet on a bimonthly basis.

Barnstable Town Councilor and panel member John Flores said the most critical recommendation is creating a working group within the state’s Executive branch to monitor the pre- and post-shutdown process.

“There is so much involved relative to safety, everything from the storage of materials, the storage of supplies,” Flores said. “What happens when Entergy leaves the Plymouth area?”

Entergy, the plant’s owner, plans to shut down the Plymouth facility’s reactor in the May 2019.

“I’m particularly very concerned about what the negative impact might be to be sure that we are covering all of our bases relative to the safety and security of our environment and protection of our citizenry once Entergy does shut it down,” Flores said.

Flores says the panel is focused on safety and the environmental impact after the plant shuts down its reactor to ensure everyone living within the zone and those on Cape Cod feel safe and secure.

“That’s why we have asked the Governor in the report to create an interagency model where the Governor holds the folks who are on that agency responsible for making sure all the T’s are crossed and all the I’s are dotted relative to the final conclusion activity,” he said.

Entergy is looking to be exempt from emergency planning requirements, including the 10-mile Emergency Planning Zone around the plant, once the plant close next year.

Entergy has submitted a request to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that, if approved, would remove the planning zone 10 months after the planned shutdown next spring. The proposed changes would take effect April 1, 2020.

Flores said Entergy is going to try to relieve themselves of any monetary requirements that impact the company.

“I personally would be opposed to any relaxation of any requirements,” Flores said.

The decision ultimately falls on the NRC, a federal agency, to approve or disapprove of Entergy’s request.

“But we need to put pressure on them,” Flores said.

Flores said Entergy has been a good partner so far through the process.

“They are just as concerned, I think, in most ways relative to the safety of the ultimate shutdown,” he said. “We’ll hold their feet to fire so to speak to the best of our ability.”

The panel will continue to meet on a monthly basis and look at the how the Baker Administration responds to recommendations.

The Pilgrim plant was placed under Column 4 or the NRC’s action matrix, which is the highest level of oversight, in 2015 after a series of safety violations and unplanned shutdowns. The designation is one step from a federally mandated shutdown.

The federal agency has been conducting additional inspections at the station ever since.

NRC Regional Administrator for Region 1 David Lew said Pilgrim has made notable progress in its recovery in 2017 and early 2018.

The NRC states quarterly inspections have shown Pilgrim’s performance is improving. The regulatory agency recently accepted revisions to a Confirmatory Action Letter with requirements to improve safety at the plant at the request of Entergy.

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