In response to the request of the Massachusetts Governor, Attorney General and State and Federal Delegations, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) held a three-hour public hearing last night in Plymouth about the contents of the leaked internal email made public in December. About 300 people, most from surrounding communities — from Cape Cod to Hingham and beyond — were in attendance.
Also in attendance were several state and local elected officials, as well as representatives from the Attorney General, Senator Markey, and Senator Warren’s offices. David Lochbaum from the Union of Concerned Scientists came all the way from Tennessee to attend the hearing. Paul Gunter from Beyond Nuclear also traveled a distance, coming from Washington, D.C. to attend.
Representatives present from the NRC included Bill Dean, Dan Dorman, Ray Lorson, and Don Jackson. The NRC began the night by discussing the contents of the leaked email and the major inspections that took place in December and January. Mr. Jackson outlined the observations in the email, and explained that many of the issues would in fact be violations when the final report is released (e.g., issues related to container liner clearance, BRAVO heat removal, faulty emergency diesel generator, and more). At one point and NRC official stated that Pilgrim was not at the “level of excellence” we would like to see at a “normal nuclear plant.”
A long line of speakers expressed frustration and concerns with the NRC, almost all asking the NRC to shut down the plant sooner than the planned closure in 2019 and to not allow refueling in the spring.
The NRC announced that Pilgrim would not likely be moved to column 5 (mandatory shutdown), but it would remain in column 4 and the plant would be refueled this spring — under continued enhanced scrutiny by the federal regulators.
The announcement that Pilgrim would in fact be refueled one last time generated shouts of “shame” from the audience.
Full results of the inspection will be given at the annual meeting in Plymouth in late March.
For more, read the following media articles about the night:
Angry crowd calls for shutdown of Mass. nuke plant, WCVB5 (video)
Feds allow Pilgrim nuclear plant to remain open, Boston.com
Feds say Pilgrim nuclear plant can continue to operate, Boston Globe
Hundreds of Pilgrim opponents question NRC, Cape Cod Times
‘Safety culture’ a problem at Pilgrim Station, Manomet Current
300 give federal officials an earful at meeting on Pilgrim power plant, Wicked Local Carver
Pilgrim’s Progress OK with NRC, Boston Herald