Washington (November 4, 2021) – Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Chair of the Climate Change, Clean Air, and Nuclear Safety Subcommittee of the Environment and Public Works Committee, and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) released the following statement after the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) approved a proposed rule to amend the agency’s regulations for nuclear power plants undergoing decommissioning.
“We are deeply disappointed that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission failed to capitalize on this important opportunity to strengthen the decommissioning process and prioritize community safety over industry savings,” said Senators Markey and Warren. “The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is responsible for ensuring a safe, effective, and efficient decommissioning process for nuclear plants, including Pilgrim Power Station, and this proposed rule falls short. The proposed rule does not include any of the critical changes that we have requested to improve public and stakeholder participation, establish a comprehensive set of decommissioning and cleanup regulations, or address concerns about the safety and duration of onsite storage of spent fuel, an issue of specific concern to the residents around the Pilgrim plant. Instead, the proposed rule allows the NRC and plant operators to cut corners on safety and limit public engagement at the expense of the communities near nuclear plants. This is unacceptable, and we urge the NRC to strengthen this decommissioning rule before finalization in order to better prioritize safety and security.”
Senator Markey has consistently urged the NRC to prioritize safety and public participation in the nuclear decommissioning process. In June 2021, he sent a letter to the NRC, urging the agency to address safety and security concerns before approving the draft proposed rule. Last Congress, Senator Markey reintroduced the Dry Cask Storage Act, which aimed to improve the storage of spent nuclear fuel at nuclear plants across the nation.
As the Pilgrim Power Station commenced its decommissioning process, Senators Markey and Warren continued to fight to ensure that the NRC prioritized safety and public participation. In August 2019, Senators Markey and Warren, and Representative William Keating (MA-09) wrote to the NRC urging it to delay its ruling on the proposed license transfer for Pilgrim from Entergy Nuclear Operations, Inc. to Holtec International until after the Commission considered and ruled on existing petitions and motions. In October 2018, Senator Markey and Rep. Keating demanded clear details from Holtec and Entergy about the safety, security, and financial integrity issues involved in the ownership, transfer, and eventual decommissioning of the power plant.