Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant Receives Its Annual Safety Assessment

Mar 28, 2018

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission's safety assessment meeting of the Pilgrim power plant on Tuesday, March 27, 2018. Commenters were met with protesters who both supported and opposed the plant's operations.
Credit Sarah Tan / WCAI

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) met on Tuesday evening for their annual safety assessment of the Pilgrim power plant in Plymouth. After a presentation from officials of Entergy, the company that owns the plant, the commission deemed the site improving, but still in need of its highest tier of oversight. 

NRC Branch Chief Anthony Dimitriadis said that while Pilgrim was making an effort to follow the commission's requests about safety, the plant didn't have a long-term plan in place. 

"While we've seen progress and improvement... we've not yet determined its sustainability," he said.

David Lew of the commission says the plant will continue to remain in the highest tier of oversight.

"We have acknowledged progress and improvement," Lew said. "But I do want to emphasize again that the NRC is not just looking for progress and improvement, we’re looking for sustainability in that progress and improvement."

 

The plant has been ranked as one of the lowest performing nuclear plants in the country, and two years ago came under scrutiny of the federal government after numerous safety violations surfaced. It is set to close in May of 2019.

 

Nearly 70 people signed up to make public comments after the commission gave its assessment. While Pilgrim officials say they have listened to the commission’s suggestions, many citizens remained unconvinced. Susan  Carpenter, a resident of South Dennis, said recent issues at the plant showed the situation is unstable.

"Pilgrim poses a clear and present danger to the citizens not only of Massachusetts but the entire east coast," Carpenter said, addressing the commission. "If I owned a car that had that many problems simultaneously, I’d take it off the road because I wouldn’t want to gamble with my life. Every day the plant is allowed to operate, you, the NRC, is gambling with our lives."

The plant has been off the grid since the beginning of March when a broken transformer from a nor’easter forced it to temporarily close, a problem that has increased concerns. Officials had no estimate for when it may reopen.