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From Wicked Local Plymouth:
Protestors plan to speak out at NRC public meeting
By David Kindy Posted Sep 8, 2019 at 10:00 AM
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission can expect a warm greeting at its public meeting in Plymouth Wednesday, Sept. 11 – perhaps a bit too warm.

PLYMOUTH – The Nuclear Regulatory Commission can expect a warm greeting at its public meeting in Plymouth Wednesday, Sept. 11 – perhaps a bit too warm.

Local officials and protest groups are lining up to speak – some with hot, angry words – about the NRC’s handling of the license transfer of Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station.

The federal agency allowed the license to go to Holtec International despite several motions requesting stays of the decision. Those petitions are still pending, though it is unclear what impact – if any – they will have on the NRC approval.

Sean Mullin, a Plymouth resident and chair of the Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel, plans to attend the meeting at 6 p.m. in the Hotel 1620 Plymouth Harbor. He has a direct message for the commission, which is seeking input on proposed local community advisory boards associated with power reactor decommissioning activities:

“The NRC staff needs to not only hear the frustration, anger and disappointment felt by citizens and local, state and federal elected officials about how the license transfer and decommissioning decisions were made regarding Pilgrim, it needs to explain how it will significantly change its regulations, policies and practices.

The NRC failed to even conduct a public hearing, never mind a comprehensive review, of the critical issues presented by the attorney general, the Baker Administration, Pilgrim Watch and our federal, state and local delegations. The primary lesson the NRC needs to learn from the Pilgrim license transfer and decommissioning process is that the staff and commission must carefully, honestly and publicly consider the concerns of the communities impacted by their decisions in the future.”

Many people are frustrated by an apparent lack of concern by the NRC to allegations of wrongdoing and unethical behavior by the new license holder. The company was temporarily barred from working with a nuclear facility for paying $50,000 to secure a contract. In addition, it failed to disclose that it had tax credits revoked for noncompliance and that its CEO was questioned as part of a criminal investigation.

There is also a concern that Holtec will not be able to do as it is promising: clean up all radioactive materials in eight years. The Massachusetts attorney general is arguing that the estimated $1.1 billion in the decommissioning fund is insufficient to do the work and that the state and town will be forced to pay to complete the project if Holtec can’t do it.

Mary Lampert of Pilgrim Watch, a local watchdog organization, plans to speak at the public meeting. She wants to know why the commission approved the transfer before listening to comments from citizens about Holtec becoming the new owner of Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station.

“The NRC’s view is that public input is important,” she said. “Yet the NRC vote on Aug. 22 to approve the license transfer, before hearings could be held, made a mockery of its pretense of caring about public and state opinion.”

Ken Tavares is hoping to attend the session. The Plymouth Select Board chair wants to know why the NRC is ignoring the town’s concerns.

“We’ve asked for time and they don’t listen,” he said. “This isn’t the first time. Once again, I will address the same concerns about them responding to citizens. If they can ignore the attorney general, then they can ignore everyone else.”

Both the attorney general and Pilgrim Watch have filed petitions with the NRC to stay the license transfer. Both filed new motions this week requesting the transfer be halted until the federal agency can rule on the other petitions submitted by the two organizations.

“Pilgrim Watch filed two motions in the Pilgrim License Transfer proceeding,” Lampert said. “One was a motion to stay the staff order of Aug. 22 approving the license transfer from Entergy Nuclear to Holtec. The second motion requested a stay of the exemption allowing use of the decommissioning trust fund for spent fuel management and soil remediation.”

Diane Turco of the Cape Downwinders will be in attendance. The director of the anti-nuclear watchdog group also wants to voice her objections to the way the federal agency has conducted hearings into the license transfer from Entergy Inc. to Holtec.

“Our own attorney general’s efforts for radiological, environmental and financial stability assurances from Holtec are ignored by the NRC,” she said. “Without the requested hearing so issues could be resolved, Holtec has no incentive to address any concerns. The NRC is the lapdog of the nuclear industry and this scam of a license transfer clearly demonstrates this reality.”

Turco said the Cape Downwinders joined with 95 other groups to protest the license transfer. Greenpeace, Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, CitizensAwareness Network and the additional organizations are calling for the NRC to suspend the license transfer for failure to hold the adjudicatory hearing requested by attorney general’s Office.

“This is a serious matter that must not be rushed in order to accommodate Holtec’s bottom line,” she said.

The state’s federal legislators have also weighed in on the matter. Senators Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, and Ed Markey, D-Massachusetts, and U.S. Rep. Bill Keating, D-Bourne, have all spoken out against the NRC decision. It is not known if they will attend the Sept. 11 meeting but it is believed each office will be represented.

“Too many questions remain and too few answers have been provided to the commonwealth and to local residents about the decommissioning of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant,” Markey said in a statement. “From financing to emergency response planning, we have asked for answers and we have received only unacceptable silence. More hearings and opportunities for public input are needed to resolve critical outstanding questions – until that happens, this license transfer should not be approved.”

Holtec has declined to comment on any of the motions filed by the attorney general or Pilgrim Watch.

“The ability to submit contentions is part of the NRC licensing process,” said Joe Delmar, Holtec’s senior director of Government Affairs & Communications. “Holtec International is preparing a proper response to the submitted contentions and will not publicly comment on the group, their reasons for their requests or Holtec’s response.”

The NRC meeting will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 11, at the Hotel 1620 Plymouth Harbor at 180 Water St. in Plymouth. The program is open to the public.
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