In 2016, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts established a Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel (NDCAP) to advise the Governor and educate residents across the state on pre- and post-decommissioning activities related to Entergy’s Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station.
Our Executive Director, Pine duBois, has been appointed to serve on NDCAP, along with legislators, energy experts, and town officials. We look forward to having a seat at the table and for the opportunity to advocate for the environment in terms of Pilgrim’s decommissioning and cleanup.
As mentioned, the purpose of NDCAP is so that citizens can get answers about Pilgrim’s decommissioning, and so the panel members can make recommendations to the Governor. If you have questions or comments that you would like us to pass on to the panel, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We will be posting notes and updates about NDCAP meetings and activities here, so please check back to this webpage to stay updated.
Meeting #1, May 24, 2017
WHEN: May 24, 2017, 6:00-8:00 pm
WHERE: Plymouth South High School, Plymouth, MA 02360
Overview of the May 1st meeting:
NDCAP members introduced themselves, their affiliation, and how they were appointed. Much of the night was spent listening to a presentation by Entergy on plant status and an update on decommissioning plans. Panel members had the opportunity to pose questions to Entergy, then the floor was opened up to public questions and comments.
The role of the NDCAP was discussed. It is advisory only, with no direct authority over Entergy’s decommissioning. However, the duties of NDCAP is to hold quarterly meetings, follow the planning and progress of decommissioning, advise the Governor, General Court, Agencies of the Commonwealth, and the public. It must develop an annual report and act as a conduit of information to the public.
Entergy stated in its presentation that May 31, 2017 deadline for closure was a “no later than date,” and there are no plans to operate past that date. The company’s upcoming milestones are to:
- Develop a Post-Shutdown Decommissioning Activities Report (PSDAR)
- Develop a cost estimate for shutdown activities
- Develop a spent fuel management plan
- Eventually send a certification letter to the NRC once the reactor is permanently offline
There are currently 8 casks on the pad and Pilgrim will need 62 casks in total (requiring a 2nd pad — the location of the 2nd pad has not been determined). It’s unknown whether more fuel will be moved out of the pool prior to the 2019 closure date. Entergy will choose between the SAFSTOR and DECON options for decommissioning. The final decision has not been made, and it’s primarily a financial analysis that determines which method is chosen.
Pilgrim’s Decommissioning Trust Fund is currently $1 billion. Several questions from the panel and the public addressed this shortfall in funds (as one member of the public pointed out, VT Yankee required $1.2 billion and is a smaller plant). There was no clear answer for what would be done if there isn’t enough money in the Fund, other than delaying full decommissioning until enough funds were available.
One panel member asked Entergy about plans to sell Pilgrim to a third party company, such as is happening in VT (Entergy is selling its VT Yankee plant to NorthStar). The entity Entergy is considering for the sale of Pilgrim is called ‘Accelerated Decommissioning Partners’, which includes the companies NorthStar and AREVA. Entergy is in the exploratory process now. No definitive plans have been made to sell Pilgrim yet.
A panel member asked Entergy whether “unrestricted use” of the site is the objective (i.e., reducing the residual radioactivity on the site to below a certain threshold). Entergy stated that it is not sure yet, but will meet any state regulations. The NRC’s standard for unrestricted release of the site is 25 mrem, and the company stated it will at least meet that level.
The NDCAP plans to develop a website soon, as a source of information for the public. Former Senator Dan Wolf, a NDCAP member and one legislators behind the development of NDCAP, ended the meeting by stating that he hopes the NDCAP will focus on safety systems that are (or should be) in place for decommissioning moving forward.
No date was set for the 2nd meeting, nor was a permanent chairperson for the panel nominated. Check back for updates.
Video of Meeting:
Media Coverage of Meeting #1:
Pilgrim panel optimistic despite rocky start, Cape Cod Times, May 25, 2017
Pilgrim’s future fuels heated debate as citizens panel begins work, Wicked Local Plymouth, May 27, 2017
Panel learns about the decommissioning options at Pilgrim Station, The Manomet Current, May 26, 2017
Meeting #2, June 21, 2017
The State’s Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel (NDCAP) met for the second time on June 21st the Plymouth Public Library.
WHEN: June 21, 2017, 6:00-8:00 pm
WHERE: Plymouth Public Library, 132 South St, Plymouth, MA 02360
Overview of June 21 meeting:
The panel began the night by nominating Co-Chairs. Sean Mullin (Minority Leader of the Senate Appointee; Town of Plymouth) and Kurt Schwartz (Director of MEMA) were appointed unanimously. The two Chairs will alternate running the meetings.
Mr. Schwartz made a brief statement: his goal is to facilitate an open, fair, and respectful discussion on all matters as long as it relates to decommissioning and planning – which is very broad. Mr. Mullin also stressed civility and respect for all opinions, and added that NDCAP is a working group that will utilize public input.
The panel voted unanimously to adopt Roberts Rules of Order as a method to conduct the meetings efficiently and effectively.
The group discussed open meeting laws and how they pertain to sub-committees. There was a motion to get an official opinion from the Attorney General, but the motion did not pass. Some suggested that the sub-committees were in fact subject to open meeting laws and there was no point spending time contacting the Attorney General. The issue will be revisited in the future.
The panel also decided to meet 6:30-8:00 on the third Wednesday of every month, with the exception of August and December, with some flexibility if needed. Note that this is a later than the 6pm start time of the last two meetings to account for panel members traveling from Boston.
The panel discussed support services that might be needed. Some of the items identified were: 1) a website so the public can easily access information or pose questions; 2) 3rd party individuals/experts as needed; 3) staff support for taking and posting meeting minutes and posting agendas; 4) help with the Governor’s report.
Subcommittees and topics for future meetings were discussed at some length. In the coming weeks, NDCAP members will be letting the Chairs know which subcommittees they are interested in, and if other topics need to be covered. It was suggested that only a few subcommittees be established now, with more subcommittees being phased in over time. It was also suggested that the panel needs to become educated on various issues related to decommissioning in these early stages; while there are some more pressing topics (DECON vs. SAFSTOR; and dry casks storage plans) that should be addressed sooner rather than later.
The public had the chance to weigh in sub-committee ideas: community involvement, education, economics, experts, regulatory and legal issues, and clean up standards are a sampling of suggested topics put forth by the public.
Stay tuned for video of the meeting, as well as more details about the July meeting.
Media Coverage of Meeting #2:
Pilgrim advisory group wants ground rules set, Cape Cod Times, June 7, 2017
Fission already apparent on nuclear panel, Cape Cod Times, June 20, 2017
Citizen Panel Sets Agenda For Decommissioning Pilgrim’s Nuclear Power Plant, WGBH News, June 22, 2017
Additional Helpful Resources:
Safely Managing Used Nuclear Fuel. Nuclear Energy Institute. Sept. 2016. Fact Sheet.
Decommissioning Nuclear Power Plants. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Backgrounder Document.
Licensing Action Submittal Plan – Decommissioning Slides. Entergy’s presentation slides discussed on NRC conference call, June 20, 2017.
Entergy’s Legacy of Contamination at Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station (Draft 2 Report). Cape Cod Bay Watch. February 2017.