NRC approves 20-year renewal of Pilgrim nuke plant

Saturday May 26, 2012

BOSTON (AP) -- The Nuclear Regulatory Comm ission approved the renewal of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station’s operating license for another 20 years, the agency announced Friday, despite objections from Gov. Deval Patrick and other Mass achusetts officials.

The commission voted 3-1 to authorize staff to renew the license before June 8, when the original 40-year license of the Plymouth, Mass., facility was set to expire.

Patrick called the NRC’s decision "extremely troubling." He and other officials, including Attorney General Martha Coakley and U.S. Reps. Edward Markey and William Keating, had called on the NRC hold off on renewal until all safety and environmental contentions had been resolved.

The commission approved an earlier staff recommendation to relicense the plant, even though some issues regarding its operation were still under review.

Outgoing commission chairman Gregory Jaczko cast the dissenting vote, while Comm issioners Kristine Svinicki, William Magwood and Will iam Ostendorff approved the relicensing, according to NRC records. The fifth member of the commission, George Apostolakis, abstained from the vote because he had previously reviewed Pilgrim’s application while serving on an advisory panel, an NRC spokesman said.

John Herron, president and chief executive of the plant’s owner, Entergy Nuclear, said the NRC’s decision came after it conducted "extremely thorough safety and environmental reviews" of the plant.

"The decision ensures Pilgrim’s generation of safe, clean, reliable and low-cost energy will continue to benefit the New England area, as will the plant’s existing 650 jobs and its $135 million in annual economic impact," Herron said.

Neil Sheehan, an NRC spokesman, noted that Pil grim’s application had been submitted on Jan. 27, 2006, and that the 61Ž2 year review period was the longest of any other renewal application in the agency’s history. He said NRC staff devoted approximately 14,600 hours to reviewing the application.

"The NRC’s decision to approve the renewal of Pil grim’s operating license without addressing public and environmental safety issues is extremely troubling," Patrick said in a statement Friday.

"Renewing the license be fore those concerns are alleviated is irresponsible and misguided," he added.


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