Commission Relicenses Controversial Nuclear Plant

By Cristina Quinn & Sean Corcoran

May 25, 2012
BOSTON — Advocates are objecting to the relicensing of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant in Plymouth, Mass.

The federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced on Friday that it had voted to renew Pilgrim’s license for another 20 years. The license was set to expire on June 8.

Mary Lampert, director of the anti-nuclear group Pilgrim Watch, said the NRC is not doing its job.

"One likes to think that especially after Fukushima, that NRC would have taken it seriously and decided to regulate, decided to listen to serious concerns, but apparently not. All that matters is rubber-stamp the license, get it over with and see what happens," she said.

Pine DuBois of the Jones River Watershed Association in Kingston, Mass., said the nuclear plant should be shuttered.

“You know, I didn’t get into this area until 1975. But when I came here, there was a certain expectation, and that expectation was that this nuclear facility had a 20-year operating license and it might get another 20 years. Well you know what? That 40 years is up. The Pilgrim plant has been operating long enough and it is time to decommission it,” she said.

Attorney General Martha Coakley had sought additional hearings, citing unaddressed safety concerns about the facility.

"Essentially the commission was satisfied that all the appropriate reviews had been conducted," said NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan. "All told, the NRC license renewal staff devoted about 14,600 hours of review to this application. So, the bottom line is this application has received an enormous amount of scrutiny form the NRC during the 6 1/2 years it's been under review."

Lampert said Pilgrim Watch will appeal the vote and pursue legal action in other areas as well.
The five-member commission voted 3-1 in favor of relicensing, with outgoing chairman Gregory Jaczko as the sole dissenter. The NRC has never rejected a license renewal application of a nuclear plant.

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