Washington (November 4, 2019) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, which has jurisdiction over the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), released the following statement after the commissioners approved the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station from the regulations for emergency planning and preparedness. In September, Senators Markey, Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Congressman William Keating (MA-09) wrote to the NRC urging it to reject Entergy and Holtec’s request for the plant to be exempted from these critical safety regulations.


Today’s NRC decision means Pilgrim is exempt from regulations that require the maintenance of offsite emergency response capabilities or procedures for public notification, even before all of the spent nuclear fuel is moved into dry cask storage. Pilgrim’s nuclear spent radioactive fuel pool was designed to hold 880 fuel assemblies, but today it holds more than 2,300 – more than two and a half times that number.


“Pilgrim should not get an exemption for key emergency preparedness and planning regulations while dangerous nuclear spent fuel is still cooling in open pools and threatening local residents,” said Senator Markey. “The NRC’s decision is shocking but not surprising to all of us who have watched how the public’s concerns have been consistently ignored during the decommissioning process at the Pilgrim plant. I plan to reintroduce legislation that would correct this wrong, move nuclear fuel into safer dry cask storage, and ensure that key protections remain for Plymouth any community living in proximity to nuclear waste.”


In 2017, the NRC granted an exemption that removed requirements for Pilgrim to implement safety upgrades that would work to avoid a Fukushima-style disaster.