In letter, Markey requests stricter safeguards as 23 nuclear power plants, including the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station, undergo decommissioning in the U.S.
Washington (June 25, 2021) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Chair of the Subcommittee on Clean Air, Climate, and Nuclear Safety in the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, today sent a letter to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), urging the agency to address safety and security concerns before approving the draft rule, “Regulatory Improvements for Production and Utilization Facilities Transitioning to Decommissioning,” and putting out a proposed rule for public comment.
“The Nuclear Regulatory Commission must prioritize the safety and security of the nuclear plants it oversees,” said Senator Markey. “As currently written, the proposed rule would allow the NRC and plant operators to cut corners on safety and limit public participation, which is critical to the decommissioning process. The communities around our nuclear plants deserve better than this.”
A copy of the letter can be found HERE.
In his letter, Senator Markey requests that the NRC:
  • propose a defined and exact set of rules on how plants should navigate the decommissioning process;
  • improve public participation during the NRC’s consideration of any license transfers requested in connection with a nuclear plant’s decommissioning process;
  • acknowledge and address the fact that spent fuel could remain onsite for long periods of time, perhaps indefinitely; and
  • reevaluate its proposal to reduce financial protections for offsite and onsite liability claims for plants that are in the process of decommissioning.
Senator Markey also requests that the NRC ensure that the twenty-three nuclear reactors, such as Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station, that have already begun the decommissioning process adapt their operations to reflect stronger standards. The NRC should also establish the proper checks to ensure the safety and security of the eight additional nuclear power plants that have already declared their intent to decommission.
Senator Markey has consistently urged the NRC to prioritize safety and public participation in the nuclear decommissioning process. Last Congress, Senator Markey reintroduced the Dry Cask Storage Act, which was aimed at improving the storage of spent nuclear fuel at nuclear plants across the nation.
As the Pilgrim Power Station commenced its decommissioning process, Senator Markey continued to fight to ensure that the NRC prioritized safety and public participation. In August 2019, Senators Markey and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Representative William Keating (MA-09) wrote to the NRC to urge it to delay ruling on the proposed license transfer for Pilgrim from Entergy Nuclear Operations, Inc. to Holtec International until after the Commission considered and ruled on extant petitions and motions. In October 2018, Senator Markey and Rep. William demanded clear details from Holtec and Entergy about the safety and security issues involved in the ownership, transfer, and eventual decommissioning of the power plant.