The owner of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station (PNPS) in Massachusetts and nuclear watchdogs are questioning the effectiveness of state legislation that would force the company to pay the state $25 million annually for each year decommissioning of the facility remains unfinished after a half-decade.
The bill was filed in January in the Massachusetts General Court by state Rep. Matthew Muratore, but was only heard last week by the bicameral Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy Committee. It has more than 30 co-sponsors.
Tom Joyce, a lobbyist for plant owner Entergy, told the committee that it would be impossible to complete decommissioning within a five-year window of the Cape Cod facility’s closure, The Patriot Ledger reported. He said the fuel now being used in the reactor will remain in Pilgrim’s spent fuel pool for five years after the plant’s scheduled shutdown on May 31, 2019. The five-year wait allows the spent fuel assemblies to cool sufficiently for transfer to dry storage.
The bill would establish a state Nuclear Power Station Post-closure Trust Fund where the fees would be deposited. That trust would be available for the state treasury to make payments for post-closure activities at the facility, but only if the federal decommissioning trust required by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has been exhausted. Muratore’s legislation would also prevent any money in that fund from being moved to the state’s General Fund, and any remaining balance would be returned to the plant’s owner after the state has confirmed that post-closure operations have finished.
The bill applies to all nuclear power plants in the state of Massachusetts, but Pilgrim is the only such facility operating in the state. The Yankee Rowe nuclear plant, near the border with Vermont, closed in 1992 and officially completed decommissioning in 2007.
“Hopefully when the bill comes out of committee they will pull the five-year trigger mark out,” Mary Lampert, director of the nongovernmental Pilgrim Watch, said in a telephone interview. “No one can do that in five years; it would take more than five years just to empty the spent fuel pool.”