This is what we can expect when Entergy sells their license to Holtec.
HYANNIS – The chair of the Commonwealth’s Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel is voicing his concerns with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s approval of the license transfer for the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station.
Sean Mullin said the decision by the NRC to approve the license transfer from Entergy to Holtec for the decommissioning of the Plymouth plant was not surprising, but was a disgrace.
“The NRC failed to take into account the very clear and concise arguments made by the Attorney General for the Commonwealth, along with the Baker Administration and Pilgrim Watch,” Mullin said.
NRC staff concluded that Holtec met the regulatory, legal, technical and financial requirements to qualify as licensees.
Holtec plans an expedited decommissioning of the plant and expects to complete the process within ten years. Entergy was planning to decommission the plant over nearly 60 years.
Holtec has never before owned or decommissioned a commercial nuclear power plant.
The Baker-Polito administration and Attorney General Maura Healey recently sent a request to the NRC to delay the approval. The request was also supported by the entire Cape and Islands legislative delegation.
The officials said that the Commonwealth deserved a right to contest the license transfer in a hearing before the NRC.
They said further assurances were needed that Holtec has the financial and technical capacity to properly and safely decommission the plant.
The attorney general’s office also noted a lack of meaningful consultation by the NRC staff with the state in the process without any reason for an expedited review.
Mullin said the arguments from state officials mirrored concerns from the NDCAP over the last few years.
“It’s business as usual when it comes to the NRC,” he said.
“Ignoring it’s own regulatory process, it’s own regulatory practices and just going ahead and making sure that they took good care of the industry.”
Mullin said the actions by the NRC to disregard state concerns reflects a problem within the regulatory agency that only Congress can remedy.
“Instead of regulating the industry, more often then not, they appear to be partnering with the industry,” Mullin said.
Mullin said the effort by the NRC to hold decommissioning advisory panels is a disingenuous effort.
“It gives communities a sense that the NRC is listening,” he said. “Sure they are listening, but they don’t take into consideration what the communities, federal, state and local officials are concerned with.”
The NRC will hold a public meeting September 11 in Plymouth to receive input regarding best practices for community advisory boards associated with the decommissioning of nuclear power plants.
The next meeting of the state’s NDCAP will be held the following week on September 18.
Mullin said he is not sure what the direction of the conversation will be when the advisory panel meets next month.
“Several of the members have communicated to me personally on a one-to-one basis their complete and utter frustration with the process,” Mullin said. “Other members have been silent on it and some others are more vehemently opposed to what has occurred than I am.”
Mullin said it is important to understand that most members of the committee are not necessarily opposed to nuclear energy and they aren’t necessarily opposed to Holtec’s receipt of the license and the approval.
“The issue here is that the concerns of the state, the concerns of the community and the concerns of the region were not even considered,” he said. “They weren’t even listened to. There was no hearing. There was no evaluative process.”
The NRC has said there is still a chance the agency takes up the petitions to intervene filed by the Attorney General’s office and Pilgrim Watch, along with the financial and environmental concerns.
“But the omelet has already been made,” Mullin said. “How do you unscramble those eggs.”
By Brian Merchant