Boston (September 2, 2015) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), one of Congress’ leading voices on nuclear safety, and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey today released the following statements on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) announcement today that it has listed the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth, Massachusetts in “Column 4” of its reactor safety ratings, a rating that means that Pilgrim has had multiple and repetitive safety problems that require increased NRC oversight. Most recently, on August 23, Pilgrim experienced an automatic shutdown that is currently being investigated by the NRC. It was the third automatic shutdown at Pilgrim since the beginning of the year. Entergy Nuclear Operations, Inc., based in Louisiana, is the operator of the facility.
“For decades, I have raised concerns about Pilgrim’s operations, security preparedness, the safety of the surrounding communities in the event of a nuclear accident, and the willingness of Entergy to dedicate sufficient resources to run the reactor safely,” said Senator Markey. “Pilgrim has had long-standing and repetitive safety problems and unplanned shutdowns that require this an increased level of NRC oversight, especially since it is the same design as the reactors that melted down during the Fukushima nuclear disaster. NRC must continue this aggressive oversight until Entergy can prove unequivocally that it has dedicated the resources, manpower and training to guarantee the safe and secure operation of this reactor.
“Entergy also should be required to pay for the distribution of potassium iodide, an anti-radiation drug that can prevent thyroid cancer caused by radiation released during a reactor meltdown, to any Massachusetts community that requests it. Finally, of the ten reactors operated by Entergy, only four are ranked in NRC’s ‘safest’ category, and Entergy operates all three reactors that are currently in NRC’s least safe ‘column 4’. I have repeatedly expressed concern that NRC has prohibited its own staff from asking Entergy to prove that it has the financial resources necessary to operate its reactor fleet safely, and I again urge NRC to revisit its unwise decision to ignore the possibility that Entergy is systematically shortchanging safety,” concluded Senator Markey.
“This office has long called for increased safety measures at the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant, including the implementation of long-term storage solutions for spent nuclear fuel,” said Attorney General Healey. “Today’s decision is a disturbing development, and my primary concern is with the safety and well-being of the residents of Massachusetts, particularly those who live near Pilgrim. Entergy must act swiftly and decisively to correct these issues and restore the public's trust in its ability to safely operate this plant.”