But recent response from Nuclear Regulatory Commission shows it will not make similar industry-wide requirement


Washington (October 25, 2018) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, released the following statement after the announcement that Entergy would be siting its new Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation pad at an elevation of 75 feet above mean sea level, 700 feet from the closest point of the shoreline. This decision reflects the recommendation of Senator Markey and members of the community who are concerned over climate change and seawater impacts on dry cask storage at Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant. According to Entergy, all dry fuel cask storage will be relocated to this site within three years after decommissioning at the plant begins in 2019.


Following an EPW hearing in March, Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Chairman Kristine Svinicki stated in questions for the record that “NRC regulations do not specifically address climate change.” In April, Senator Markey wrote to Chairman Svinicki expressing serious concern over storage of dry casks at Pilgrim, calling it essential that NRC regulations fully consider the impacts of climate change and sea level rise on dangerous nuclear waste. Chairman Svincki replied in late May to those questions, but her answers did not even contain the term climate change.


“I have long called for Pilgrim to abandon its dangerous plan to keep nuclear waste directly next to seas rising as a result of climate change, and this decision reflects the reality of our times,” said Senator Markey. “A safe and secure future for the community around Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant needs to include a plan for all dangerous spent nuclear fuel, and I will continue to work with the neighboring residents and closely watch actions taken by Pilgrim. It’s time for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to take its head out of the sand and recognize the threat climate change poses to nuclear power plants across the country. Rising seas, warmer waters, and stronger storms are the new normal, and the NRC needs to take them into account when ensuring the safety of Pilgrim and all nuclear power plants.”


A copy of Senator Markey’s April letter to Chairman Svinicki can be found HERE. The response to Senator Markey from Chairman Svincki can be found HERE.


The Dry Cask Storage Act, introduced most recently in 2017 by Senator Markey, and co-sponsored by Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), would ensure that every nuclear reactor operator complies with an NRC-approved plan that would require the safe removal of spent nuclear fuel from the spent fuel pools and place that spent fuel into dry cask storage within seven years of the time the plan is submitted to the NRC. The legislation also provides funding to help reactor licensees implement the plans and expands the emergency planning zone for non-compliant reactor operators to from ten to 50 miles.