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From the Cape Cod Times:
Attorney general files motion to suspend Pilgrim license transfer
By Christine Legere @ChrisLegere CCT Posted Nov 1, 2019 at 6:48 PM
Updated Nov 2, 2019 at 6:18 AM

BOSTON — Attorney General Maura Healey has asked the U.S. Appeals Court to put the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s approval of the license transfer for Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station on hold until her pending suit against the commission has been settled.

Healey sued the commission in federal court in late September, asking it to overturn its August license transfer approval and an accompanying exemption to use the plant’s $1.1 billion decommissioning trust fund for nondecommissioning activities.

In her request for a stay Oct. 28, Healey argued that she would likely prevail in the suit, which accuses the commission of violating the Atomic Energy Act, National Environmental Policy Act and the commission’s own regulations by approving Pilgrim’s license transfer from Entergy Corp. to Holtec International without providing “the Commonwealth with a meaningful opportunity to participate in the process.”

Two days after the approval, Entergy sold the plant to Holtec.

If the stay is not granted, the attorney general said, the commonwealth and its citizens will suffer harm “due to the immediate start of decommissioning activities by a licensee that is neither technically nor financially qualified to perform the work.”

“Those injuries include health, safety and infrastructure harm inflicted by frequent waste shipment over local roads, which will cause noise, dust and other air pollutant emissions, increase the risk of traffic accidents and damage transportation infrastructure,” she stated in her motion.

The environmental impacts of 1,400 truckloads of radiological waste that has been anticipated by Holtec “vastly exceeds” the commission’s estimate of 671 shipments used in its prior generic environmental impact statement for decommissioning nuclear power plants.

The money in the decommissioning trust fund, Healey noted, came from ratepayers.

“In effect, the NRC has permitted Holtec to take millions in Massachusetts ratepayer money as private profit while depriving the fund of money needed to ensure the successful radiological decommissioning of Pilgrim,” Healey wrote in her motion. “Once Holtec spends the trust fund money there is no clear path to recover it because the trust fund – by design – is Holtec’s only asset.”

State officials had made several unsuccessful attempts to have a voice in the license transfer process.

In February, the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs and the attorney general’s office filed a petition to intervene in the commission’s review. They questioned Holtec’s financial ability to decommission Pilgrim and called for a full environmental review of the reactor site before decommissioning.

State officials also demanded a public hearing. When the commission approved the license transfer six months later, the agency still had not acted on the petitions to intervene in the license review.

The attorney general’s office unsuccessfully asked the commission for a hold on the license transfer during the summer to allow state officials time to reach a settlement agreement with the plant owner.

The day before the transfer approval, the attorney general sent a seven-page letter to the commission questioning Holtec’s truthfulness, citing the company’s admission to bribery of a Tennessee Valley Authority employee in 2007. More recently, state officials in New Jersey froze a $260 million tax break secured by Holtec when they discovered the company had lied on its application, the attorney general said.

After the license transfer approval was announced, the attorney general submitted an application for a stay to the commission.

“The Commonwealth has not even obtained a ruling on its stay application, filed almost two months ago,” she wrote in her motion.

Spokesman Neil Sheehan said the commission declined to comment on the motion due to pending litigation.

Patrick O’Brien, spokesman for Comprehensive Decommissioning International, a joint company formed by Holtec and SNC Lavalin to decommission Pilgrim and several other plants, issued the following statement on behalf of Holtec:

“The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has concluded that Holtec met the required regulatory, legal, technical and financial requirements to qualify as licensee. While we respect the petitioner’s rights to file legal motions, we are not going to comment on any specific legal motions or action.
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