Morning Briefing - April 03, 2019
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April 03, 2019

Massachusetts Says it Has Right to Intervene in Pilgrim Plant License Transfer

By ExchangeMonitor

The commonwealth of Massachusetts this week forcefully pushed back against the suggestion that it not be given party status in the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission review of the license transfer application for the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station.

Power company Entergy is scheduled to close Pilgrim by May 31, then hopes this year to sell the single-reactor plant on Cape Cod to energy technology company Holtec International for decommissioning, site restoration, and spent fuel management. The companies last year applied for the license transfer needed for the sale to proceed.

Both the commonwealth of Massachusetts and the advocacy group Pilgrim Watch have filed petitions for a hearing and intervention in the license proceeding. In March, Pilgrim’s owner and prospective buyer said both petitions should be rejected – arguing Massachusetts did not submit any admissible contentions against the license transfer and Pilgrim Watch has neither standing nor admissible contentions.

“The Applicants … oppose the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ Petition to Intervene and for a Hearing on the Proposed Action based on a simple yet wholly misguided premise: trust us,” attorneys for the state wrote in the response filed with the NRC on Monday.

But it would be wrong to simply trust that Pilgrim’s decommissioning fund is assured of covering all costs; that Holtec, in its first job managing cleanup at a nuclear power plant, can complete the project “at a pace never previously achieved”; and that whatever remains of the trust after decommissioning is complete will be sufficient to pay for decades of on-site spent fuel management, according to Massachusetts.

Pilgrim Watch also urged the NRC to sign off on its petition for intervention. It noted that an agency Atomic Safety and Licensing Board had approved the watchdog to intervene in the prior relicensing for the power plant, without opposition from Entergy.

“Entergy has changed its position on whether Pilgrim has standing; but the facts supporting Pilgrim Watch’s standing have not,” the group said in its own response Monday.

The NRC is still considering the petitions for intervention, a spokesperson said Tuesday.