During a conference call today, NOAA officials described the impacts of the “historic winter storm” that is due to hit eastern Massachusetts starting Friday, February 8, 2013. NOAA’s slides are here: NOAA Analysis Feb 6 2013 (PowerPoint)

Entergy’s Pilgrim nuclear reactor in Plymouth, Massachusetts presents an unacceptable risk to the public and the environment during this storm. NOAA is predicting prolonged power outages, coastal flooding and erosion, and hurricane force winds.

Entergy stores high level radioactive waste at Pilgrim in “wet pools.” These “spent fuel pools” require water to be constantly circulating to keep them cool. During a prolonged power outage, the pools could lose power, causing a fire. This would result in a massive release of radioactive materials that would be devastating to the environmental and the public. According to an expert for the Massachusetts Attorney General, such a fire could cause $488 billion in damages.

Coastal flooding and high tides could also cause Pilgrim’s pumps and cooling water intake system to malfunction. Pilgrim takes in almost a half billion gallons a day of water from Cape Cod Bay. If the pumps clog, the reactor operations would be at risk. During Hurricane Sandy, the nuclear reactor at Oyster Creek came close to a meltdown when the pumps failed.

Pilgrim is simply in the wrong location – in a hurricane zone, subject to coastal flooding.

When the NRC relicensed Pilgrim until 2032, the agency ignored rising sea levels and the more frequent, severe storms that are predicted. Pilgrim is a poster child of how climate change is already causing us to rethink decisions about things like where to locate a nuclear reactor. In 1972, when Pilgrim went online, the world was a different place. It’s time to address these issues at Pilgrim.

If Entergy can’t keep the lights on during the Super Bowl, what can we expect at Pilgrim during this historic winter storm and others to come?