How & Why To Demand Pilgrim's Immediate Closing

Saturday, 24 October 2015 08:26 Written by  Alexandra Grabbe

10242015 Image1On Thursday I spent two hours at the Statehouse, listening to speeches by activists demanding the immediate closing of the Pilgrim nuclear plant, located across Cape Cod Bay. 




Today I’ll summarize why this plant needs to be shut down NOW, not in 2019, and share some of what I learned.


Entergy owns Pilgrim.  Entergy is losing from 30 to 60 million a year.  We must push for the emptying of the spent fuel rod pool, which puts us all at risk for monumental disaster.  There are 4000 fuel rods now, in water.  They need to be placed in dry cask storage.  In recent years Congress scuttled the original plan to move fuel rods to Yucca Mountain, in Nevada.  Therefore, for the time being, the areas surrounding nuclear power plants are destined to become nuclear waste dumps.  Senator Dan Wolf’s 1798 bill will require Entergy to pay 25 million a year into a fund to finance decommissioning, so that MA taxpayers do not end up paying for it.  His bill 1797 requires dry cask storage.




Cape Downwinders Diane Turco made our purpose clear from the get-go:  “The issue is public safety.  2019 is a narrative we reject.”




Deb Katz of Citizens Awareness Network (CAN):  “We can’t play Russian roulette with the state of Massachusetts anymore.  Entergy is a sinking ship.  Let’s make sure it doesn’t sink Massachusetts.”




Nauset High student Kahla Jessell:  “ We must insist on proper closure. Governor Baker, are you unaware Pilgrim is among three of the most dangerous reactors in the country?” (All three belong to Entergy Corporation, located in Louisiana.)




Robert Cunningham, President of the Association for the Preservation of Cape Cod deplored the ongoing environmental damage.  He spoke about the plant leaking into Cape Cod Bay, filling thousands of fish and fish eggs each year.  “A disaster would make Cape Cod a wasteland.”




The Cape Cod National Seashore Advisory Commission rep Maureen Burgess, from Truro, warned that we should not be lulled into a false sense of security by the plan to close Pilgrim in 2019.




Sheila Forman of Falmouth reminded everyone present that in case of accident, the bridges will be closed.  There is no evacuation plan for Cape Cod.




Sarah Peake has proposed a bill in the House to increase the emergency area around Plymouth to fifty miles, the distance the United States estimated needed around the plant at Fukushima.  Right now Wellfleet is more like 20 miles from the plant.  Boston is 35 miles away from Plymouth, Newton is 38.  Newton residents will vote on a ballot question regarding Pilgrim this fall. 




During the blizzard of January 2015, one of the switches failed and operators didn’t know the amount of water in the reactor.  Not good!  With the 60-mile-an hour winds of the snowstorm, it would take 35 minutes for the radiation to reach Boston. Yes, BOSTON!  The shutting down of Pilgrim is no longer only a Cape Cod issue.  Bostonians need to take action, too.




So, what can you do?  Write letters to Governor Baker (Massachusetts State House, Office of the Governor, Room 280, Boston MA 02133) or call his office, (617 725 4005).  State that 2019 is unacceptable.  Pilgrim must be closed now!



Insist on the issue of public safety.  Imagine if a superstorm like Patricia hit Cape Cod next summer.  No escape with the bridges closed.  Stand up and let Governor Baker know he must reject the will of Entergy Corporation and stand with the citizens of his state who are in harm’s way.




I leave you with the letter sent to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission from Senator Markey and the entire MA delegation this week, urging the NRC to commit to needed measures to ensure the Pilgrim nuclear reactor is properly decommissioned. Last month, the NRC listed Pilgrim in “Column 4” of its reactor safety ratings, its least safe rating for an operating reactor.




“We write to request that the Commission ensure that the remaining period during which the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth, MA operates receives the utmost attention to safety and security, and that the reactor’s operations are adequately funded by Entergy,” write the lawmakers in a letter sent today to NRC Chairman Stephen Burns. “We additionally ask for your assistance with ensuring that the reactor’s subsequent decommissioning occurs quickly, with all needed measures to protect public health and safety, and assistance for the workers whose jobs will be lost when the reactor shuts down.”




Specifically, in the letter the Massachusetts lawmakers call on the NRC to ensure that Entergy has sufficient financial resources to safely operate the facility, that assistance is available to workers who jobs will be lost when the reactor shuts down, and that local and state officials be integrally involved in the decommissioning process. Additionally, the lawmakers call on the Commission to reject any license application amendment from Entergy that seeks to reduce or eliminate applicable emergency response or security requirements at the reactor until after the spent nuclear fuel is removed from the spent fuel pools and placed into safer dry cask storage following the reactor’s permanent shut-down. The Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station was originally licensed to hold about 880 spent fuel assemblies in its spent fuel pool but now holds close to 4,000.




This is scary stuff.  Licensed for 880. Now holds 4000.  Act now!


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