Senator Markey Blasts NRC for Granting Exemptions to Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station from Critical Safety Upgrades

Commission’s decision will allow Entergy to forgo seismic and flooding risk reevaluations, and installation of hardened vents meant to prevent release of radioactivity in a severe accident

Washington (April 17, 2017) — Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, today criticized the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for agreeing to exempt Entergy, the licensee of Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station, from requirements to implement critical safety upgrades to the facility. In the wake of the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan, the NRC’s Fukushima Near-Term Task Force recommended a series of safety upgrades for America’s nuclear fleet, including the requirement to reevaluate and address the risk of earthquakes and floods, and the requirement to install hardened containment vents capable of operating under severe accident conditions. The latter are meant to prevent the release of radioactivity in the event of a terrorist attack or severe accident, such as the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan in March 2011 and led to meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station has the same design as Fukushima.

“Today’s decision by the NRC undermines the safety of Massachusetts communities living in the shadow of Pilgrim,” said Senator Markey. “When Entergy announced its intention to cease operations at Pilgrim, the NRC promised that it would hold Entergy responsible for running the plant as safely as possible until that time. By providing exemptions from requirements meant to address the risk of terrorist attacks or severe accidents such as natural disasters, the NRC has broken its promise. I urge the NRC to rescind its decision, and to hold Pilgrim to the highest safety standard. Anything less represents an abdication of its role as a safety regulator.”

Senator Markey had previously led a letter from the entire Massachusetts delegation urging the NRC not to provide Entergy with any exemptions or extensions from critical safety requirements until the plant shut operations in 2019.