Land Court Case Update 8/11/16

In August 2013, a group of local residents sued the town of Plymouth and Entergy over violations of local zoning laws at the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station. The lawsuit asserts that the town building inspector illegally approved Entergy’s massive new nuclear waste storage facility as an “as of right” use, without a special permit. Since 2013, Entergy has tried various legal tactics to get the case thrown out of court and to limit the evidence that the citizen plaintiffs can use to prove their case. The plaintiffs survived all of Entergy’s maneuvers and the case goes to trial Aug. 8 at Land Court in Boston. It is open to the public and is scheduled for the weeks of Aug. 8 and Aug. 22. As soon as we receive word on the case we will post it on the website. Stay tuned!

Local groups call on Gov. Baker to protect Commonwealth in March 3 letter

Local groups have called on Governor Baker to be proactive in making decisions to protect the people of the Commonwealth and its economy from what the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has categorized to be one of the worst run nuclear power plants in the United States. Pilgrim Coalition, Pilgrim Watch, Cape Downwinders and Jones River Water Association’s letter dated March 3rd states the increased risk at Pilgrim commands a more watchful eye by this administration.Letter-to-Gov-Baker-Final-1

Top Five PNPS Issues Report to the Board of Selectmen, Town of Plymouth

Top Five PNPS Issues Report to BOS – Final Report – 4-6-15

The Town of Plymouth Nuclear Matters Committee (NMC) drafted this document for the Board of Selectmen to highlight what they felt to be the top 5 issues related to Pilgrim. There were differing views among the NMC committee members about the information included in this document.

As always, CNP is in favor of expedited transfer of spent fuel to dry cask storage — and that this be done in the safest way possible, with consideration to rising sea level and the negative effects of potential flooding and a marine environment on the integrity of dry casks (i.e. stress corrosion cracking with radioactive release).

There will be a presentation on this report during Tuesday, May 19th’s Board of Selectmen’s meeting, at 9 pm, in the Mayflower Room at the Plymouth Town Hall.

 

Nuclear Power 2015 pending legislation — contact your legislators!

Pilgrim Coalition has created this easy reference guide:

 

Massachusetts Legislation

Re: Nuclear Power – 2015

If you are a Massachusetts resident who is not represented by the following legislators, please consider asking your legislator to support one or more of the following bills.

SENATE

Docket #50; FILED ON: 1/12/2015; PRESENTED BY: Daniel A. Wolf
An Act establishing funding to provide moneys for postclosure activities at nuclear power stations.

Docket #46; FILED ON: 1/12/2015; PRESENTED BY: Daniel A. Wolf
An Act establishing a fee on the storage of spent nuclear fuel in pools.

HOUSE

Docket #1158; FILED ON: 1/14/2015; PRESENTED BY: James M. Cantwell
An Act increasing nuclear power plant protections to a twenty mile radius

Docket #1159; FILED ON: 1/14/2015; PRESENTED BY: James M. Cantwell
An Act to amend Section 5K(E) of Chapter 111 (this would authorize MDPH to assess the operators of Pilgrim and Seabrook $400,000)

Docket #1767; FILED ON: 1/15/2015; PRESENTED BY: Sarah K. Peake and Ann-Margaret Ferrante
An Act Increasing Nuclear Power Plant Protections To a Fifty Mile Radius
Sponsors

Docket #1754; FILED ON: 1/15/2015; PRESENTED BY: Sarah K. Peake and Ann-Margaret Ferrante
An Act Relative To Radiological Air Monitoring
Sponsors

Docket #1752; FILED ON: 1/15/2015; PRESENTED BY: Sarah K. Peake and Ann-Margaret Ferrante
An Act Relative To Emergency Planning
Sponsors

Sponsors of HD1752:
Sarah K. Peake, 4th Barnstable
Ann-Margaret Ferrante, 5th Essex
Timothy R. Madden, Barnstable, Dukes and Nantucket
Brian M. Ashe, 2nd Hampden
Josh S. Cutler, 6th Plymouth
Marjorie C. Decker, 25th Middlesex

Michael O. Moore, Second Worcester
Peter V. Kocot, 1st Hampshire
David M. Rogers, 24th Middlesex
James B. Eldridge, Middlesex and Worcester
Chris Walsh, 6th Middlesex
Barbara L’Italien, Second Essex and Middlesex
Daniel A. Wolf, Cape and Islands
Randy Hunt, 5th Barnstable
Jonathan Hecht, 29th Middlesex

Sponsors of HD1754:
Sarah K. Peake, 4th Barnstable
Ann-Margaret Ferrante, 5th Essex
Timothy R. Madden, Barnstable, Dukes and Nantucket
Brian M. Ashe, 2nd Hampden
Thomas J. Calter, 12th Plymouth
Josh S. Cutler, 6th Plymouth
James M. Cantwell, 4th Plymouth
Chris Walsh, 6th Middlesex
Jonathan Hecht, 29th Middlesex

Sponsors of HD1767:
Sarah K. Peake, 4th Barnstable
Ann-Margaret Ferrante, 5th Essex
Timothy R. Madden, Barnstable, Dukes and Nantucket
Brian M. Ashe, 2nd Hampden
Josh S. Cutler, 6th Plymouth
Marjorie C. Decker, 25th Middlesex
Michael O. Moore, Second Worcester
James M. Cantwell, 4th Plymouth
Peter V. Kocot, 1st Hampshire
David M. Rogers, 24th Middlesex
James B. Eldridge, Middlesex and Worcester
Chris Walsh, 6th Middlesex
Barbara L’Italien, Second Essex and Middlesex
Daniel A. Wolf, Cape and Islands
Randy Hunt, 5th Barnstable
Jonathan Hecht, 29th Middlesex
Brian R. Mannal, 2nd Barnstable

One of the Pilgrim Coalition Member Groups, the Cape Downwinders’, is presenting a community educational program in support of the above legislation. If you know of a group or organization interested in the presentation, please contact Diane Turco at tturco@comcast.net or 508-776-3132. Cape Downwinders is also organizing lobbying days at the State House.

 

Please visit PilgrimCoalition.org for more information.

 

Activists, supporters sound off on Pilgrim nuclear plant

Packed room last night at the NRC annual assessment of Pilgrim, with Pilgrim workers, local elected officials, media, and plant critics filling the seats. NRC will continue additional oversight of Pilgrim until problems that have plagued it since 2013 are fixed. Until then, Pilgrim remains in a “degraded cornerstone” – in other words, one of the poorest performing reactors in the U.S.

http://www.capecodonline.com/article/20150318/NEWS/150319382/?Start=1

 

By Christine Legere

clegere@capecodonline.com

 

Posted Mar. 18, 2015 at 11:09 PM

 

PLYMOUTH — The Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station has failed to solve problems that have ranked it among the worst performing nuclear plants in the nation, said opponents who turned out for its annual assessment meeting with Entergy Corp. representatives and officials from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission Wednesday.

“At what point does the NRC decide to shut it down,” said Karen Vale, a wildlife biologist and coordinator for Cape Cod Bay Watch. “When does the NRC decide the risk is just too big?”

Vale said past shutdowns during storms demonstrate the plant’s inability to withstand extreme weather.

The packed meeting at the Radisson Hotel Plymouth Harbor, however, was divided almost equally between anti-Pilgrim activists and supporters.

“We see nuclear power as a vital, clean energy source,” said Katie Woods, a North Plymouth resident and civil engineer who works at the plant. “I’m a property owner who lives seven miles from the plant. I wouldn’t spend money on an area if I thought it wasn’t safe.”

Woods said her parents were also in the nuclear industry and her twin sister was employed at Seabrook Station Nuclear Power Plant.

The NRC placed Pilgrim in what is known as the “degraded cornerstone” category last year, because of the number of unplanned shutdowns and shutdowns with complications that occurred in 2013. The status calls for heightened oversight.

While the plant had fewer shutdowns in 2014, giving the Entergy-owned plant the opportunity to return to its previous status, requiring only basic oversight, federal regulators who inspected Pilgrim late last fall concluded the company had not followed through on corrective actions to address shortfalls. The plant is scheduled for another inspection in July to see if deficiencies have been fixed.

Some of the plants that were in the degraded cornerstone category with Pilgrim last year have since been moved to higher performance categories, but Pilgrim remains among five of the 100 commercial plants in the country requiring heightened oversight.

The 2015 year started poorly for Pilgrim which was forced to shut down Jan. 27 for electrical problems in the plant’s switch yard and other problems related to a major snowstorm.

NRC Region 1 Administrator Daniel Dorman said Pilgrim’s “biggest risk systems” performed effectively during that storm. It was “lower level” issues that complicated that plant shutdown, he said.

“Entergy said they’ve learned from these storms and will take precautions until they can modify the switch yard.” Dorman said. “We look forward to seeing what corrective actions they’ll put in place. Meanwhile they’ll shut down during storms.”

Diane Turco, a Harwich resident and co-founder of the anti-Pilgrim group Cape Downwinders, was critical of federal regulators, saying they operated under the assumption “that Pilgrim will follow through with your recommendations.”

“This is serious,” Turco said. “It’s about our lives and the safety of our families.”

She accused the NRC of “putting the public at risk for the profit of a corporation.”

“We ask when will you order Pilgrim to be shut down?”

Dorman said conditions at Pilgrim are not a cause for a shutdown.

“We’ve needed to see more significant safety findings to make that determination,” he said.

Many of the 300 people who attended the meeting wore T-shirts and buttons in support of “Pilgrim Power.”

And some stepped to the microphone to defend the plant.

Kevin O’Reilly, executive director of the Plymouth Area Chamber of Commerce, talked about the benefits of the Pilgrim plant.

“I hope folks will take into consideration the economic impact the plant brings to the community,” he said, pointing to the $10 million annual payment the plant pays Plymouth in lieu of taxes and $350,000 in contributions it makes to local organizations. He also cited the jobs it provides.

“The plant has been a good neighbor,” O’Reilly said.

Other speakers expressed concern over the spent fuel pool on top of the reactor, the location of dry casks where some radioactive rods are being stored near Cape Cod Bay, old equipment that keeps breaking down, and the lack of deadlines being issued by nuclear regulators to get problems addressed.

At one point, a small group of opponents raised signs and chanted “shut Pilgrim down.”

John Dent, Pilgrim’s site vice-president, acknowledged that the plant’s performance “did not meet our high standards.” The focus now is on leadership, equipment reliability and performance improvement, he said.

Plant officials said they fully expect to pass the NRC’s inspection in July.

Yucca Mountain and Pilgrim — Cape Cod Bay Watch Blog

Yucca Mountain and Pilgrim

Lesley University intern, Marcel Howard, writes about Yucca Mountain and how it relates to the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant in Plymouth, MA. Marcel is a 3rd year student at Lesley, majoring in Political Science with a minor in Environmental Studies and will be focusing on issues related to Pilgrim’s nuclear waste storage project for the semester.

Nuclear wastes from nuclear power plants around the U.S. were supposed to be sent to a federal geological repository off-site. However, the proposed storage site, Yucca Mountain in Nevada, was cancelled in 2010, and there is currently no other alternative. With that said, Entergy’s nuclear waste is stranded at Pilgrim and it has the potential to be there for hundreds, if not thousands of years.

Irradiated (or “spent”) fuel from reactors contains over 95% of the radioactivity in all the waste ever generated by industrial-scale nuclear activity in the U.S. (including the production of nuclear weapons).  Nuclear waste is expected to be highly radioactive for hundreds of thousands of years according to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).[1] With that said, proper long-term containment is critical in properly storing nuclear waste.

In 1957, the National Academy of Sciences convened a meeting of scientists and engineers to consider the permanent disposition of long-lived highly radioactive wastes from commercial nuclear power reactors and nuclear weapons production. Their conclusion was that nuclear waste could be disposed in mines built in deep salt deposits that were 200 to 300 million years old.

In 1977, Yucca Mountain (Located on the Western Shoshone Treaty Lands in Nevada) was considered an acceptable location. A decade later in 1987, Congress amended the Nuclear Waste Policy Act to make the Yucca Mountain site the only candidate site for characterization and recommendation for development as a repository.  However, with this decision came strict opposition against the project.

In 1998, the Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS) petitioned Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson, to disqualify Yucca Mountain from consideration as a nuclear waste repository site since new data showed that it would not meet the Site Recommendation Guidelines in the Nuclear Waste Policy Act.  The key issue was the rate of movement of water inside the rock at the Yucca Mountain site. The tuff, a rock formed of compressed volcanic ash, is heavily fractured at this site due to ongoing seismic activity. The fractures allow surface water to travel into and through the mountain far more quickly than the guideline criterion permits. The guideline says that the site should be disqualified if the groundwater travel time from the buried waste to the accessible environment is less than 1,000 years.

Between the years of 2001 and 2002, the Department of Energy (DOE) eliminated all qualifying and disqualifying conditions for the Yucca Mountain site, including the disqualifying condition that required groundwater travel time from the repository to the accessible environment be greater than 1,000 years. Also, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) revised its repository-licensing rule to rely on TSPA [Total System Performance Assessment] model analysis as the only compliance measure for protection of the public from radionuclide releases. It eliminated subsystem performance requirements such as a requirement for substantially complete radionuclide containment in the repository for at least the first 1,000 years. It also set no requirement that the geologic barrier be primary for waste isolation, and set no limit on the contribution of the engineered barrier protection against loss of waste isolation.

From 1976 to 1996, more than 600 earthquakes measured over 2.5 on the Richter scale within 50 miles of Yucca Mountain.  Over time the number of known fault lines at Yucca Mountain has grown to 33, which has helped in proving that Nevada is the 3rd most earthquake prone state.

These facts, along with a long list of other issues, are what ultimately led to the Obama Administration taking Yucca Mountain off the table in 2010. Many throughout the nuclear industry were very upset about Obama’s decision to cancel Yucca Mountain; however, this just shows that they are less concerned with Yucca mountain and more interested in getting the industry’s lethal radioactive waste away from its reactors sites because of liability.

In conclusion, highly radioactive waste is piling up at reactor sites, such as at Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth, MA. Nuclear wastes are piling up at these sites because commercial nuclear facilities are continuing to generate it without a permanent storage solution in place. Thus, the ultimate solution to this problem of radioactive waste is to stop making more. Until this occurs, nuclear waste will continue to pile up at Pilgrim, and Plymouth will be home to this nuclear waste potentially forever.

[1] U.S. NRC. 2012. High-level waste.

Photo: Yucca Mountain; en.wikipedia.org

http://www.capecodbaywatch.org/2015/03/how-yucca-mountain-relates-to-pilgrim/

NRC Public Meeting 3/18 at 6:30pm, Radisson Hotel, 180 Water Street, Plymouth, MA

NRC To Hold Regulatory Performance Public Meeting

Regarding Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant on March 18th

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will provide details on its annual assessment of safety performance at the Pilgrim nuclear power plant during a public meeting on March 18 in Plymouth, Mass. The NRC will also discuss the results of a team inspection conducted at the plant last fall in response to two “white” (low to moderate safety significance) performance indicators received by the plant.

The meeting is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. in the Grand Ballroom at the Radisson Hotel Plymouth Harbor, at 180 Water St. in Plymouth. Prior to the end of the session, NRC staff will answer questions on the plant’s performance, the agency’s oversight activities and the team inspection.

Determinations on plant performance are based on a combination of inspection findings and performance indicators utilized by the NRC’s Reactor Oversight Process. The findings and indicators are classified by color, ranging from “green,” for an issue of very low safety or security significance, to “white,” “yellow” or “red,” representing high safety or security significance.

Pilgrim, which is located in Plymouth and is owned by Entergy Nuclear Operations Inc., operated safely during 2014. However, the plant was under additional NRC scrutiny because of two performance indicators transitioning to “white” in 2013. One of the indicators covers unplanned scrams, or shutdowns, per 7,000 hours of operation; the other involves unplanned scrams with complications.

Last fall, a team of NRC inspectors traveled to Pilgrim to evaluate whether the issues behind the unplanned shutdowns had been satisfactorily addressed. The eight-member team found that although the company’s problem identification, root cause evaluation and corrective action plans were generally adequate, deficiencies still existed in the implementation of corrective action plans, as well as in understanding of the issues’ causes.

As a result, per agency protocols, the NRC in January assigned two “parallel” “white” inspection findings to Pilgrim. The findings administratively replaced the two “white” performance indicators and mean that the plant will continue to receive heightened attention until the NRC can perform a follow-up team inspection and is satisfied the concerns have been resolved. The NRC will conduct that additional inspection once Entergy notifies the agency of its readiness for it. Page | 2

“Our inspectors identified several examples where corrective actions were not completed as intended or were closed prematurely,” NRC Region I Administrator Dan Dorman said. “We expect Entergy to take the steps necessary to put in place corrective actions that will have a lasting impact and reduce the likelihood of unplanned scrams, or shutdowns.”

In addition, the NRC initiated a Special Inspection to review the plant’s performance during a severe winter storm at the end of January that resulted in a reactor shutdown. The results of the inspection will be contained in a report to be issued this spring.

In 2014, the NRC performed approximately 6,500 hours of inspection at Pilgrim.

The NRC issues reports on performance at each plant twice each year: during the mid-cycle, or mid-point, of the year, and at the conclusion of the year. Inspection findings and performance indicators are also updated on a quarterly basis on the agency’s website. Following the release of the Annual Assessment letters each March, the NRC meets with the public in the vicinity of each plant to discuss the results.

More information about the Pilgrim plant’s performance can be found on the NRC’s website.

Spent Fuel and the Dangers at Pilgrim — Article by CCBW intern Marcel Howard

Lesley University intern, Marcel Howard, writes about the Pilgrim nuclear waste storage zoning case. Marcel is a 3rd year student at Lesley, majoring in Political Science with a minor in Environmental Studies and will be focusing on issues related to Pilgrim’s nuclear waste storage project for the semester.

Tons of nuclear waste, generated by over 40 years of making nuclear power, is now being stored at Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in a spent fuel pool. Because of the lack of room in the wet pool, Entergy Nuclear Generating Company (the owner of Pilgrim) is building a long-term nuclear waste storage facility on the shore of Cape Cod Bay using dry casks.

Nuclear wastes from nuclear power plants around the U.S. were supposed to be sent to a deep geological repository off-site. However, the proposed storage site, Yucca Mountain in Nevada, was cancelled in 2010, and there is currently no other alternative. With that said, Entergy’s nuclear waste is stranded at Pilgrim and it has the potential to be there for hundreds, if not thousands of years.

The uranium pellets that Pilgrim uses to generate nuclear power are contained in “fuel rods.” About 70 of these fuel rods are bundled together to form fuel assemblies. Pilgrim’s reactor core holds 580 assemblies. After a period of time, the fuel assemblies cannot generate enough energy and have to be replaced.

Entergy’s used (or “spent”) fuel assemblies are irradiated waste fuel – a high-level radioactive waste that is at least a million times more radioactive than the fresh nuclear fuel that goes into the reactor. At Pilgrim, about one-third of the used fuel assemblies in the reactor core are unloaded every eighteen months to two years and moved to wet pool storage. The wet pool is located inside the reactor building and is subject to an enormous amount of potential safety incidents. Equipment failures and personnel errors during reactor refueling activities have resulted in a few hundred safety accidents in the U.S., including at Pilgrim.

Pilgrim’s spent fuel pool was originally designed to hold 880 fuel assemblies, but currently holds over 3,200 – about four times more than it was originally designed to hold. The assemblies must be covered with water to prevent a fire that would release huge amounts of radioactivity – enough to contaminate an area more than 100 miles downwind, according to the National Academy of Sciences.

With Entergy running out of room for Pilgrim’s spent fuel pool, it needs to build a “dry cask” nuclear waste dump or it cannot continue to operate. According to Entergy Corporation’s Patricia Kakridas, “[Dry cask storage] has been safely implemented at dozens of other plants and regulated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. We are confident that the process of dry storage of used fuel will ultimately proceed at Pilgrim.”[1]

Kakridas’s statement may be seen as Entergy being over confident with their dry cask plans. Not only is Entergy’s proposed dry cask storage project located in the coastal zone (as close as 175 feet from the shoreline), where rising sea levels and other climate change impacts are a concern; but Pilgrim will need about 100 casks to supply enough space for the spent fuel. Each cask having to be 8 feet tall, 11 feet wide, and 360,000 pounds when loaded – to store all the spent nuclear fuel it will have generated over it’s lifetime.[2]

With this massive project being run by a company that has gone through multiple failures at Pilgrim in the past few months because of the weather, it is only inevitable that this same company could encounter multiple equipment and personnel failures when building this dry cask storage facility; which ultimately would lead to catastrophic consequences for Plymouth and the Greater Boston area.

In conclusion, it is noted that Pilgrim contains more than 600 metric tons of irradiated nuclear fuel then that of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant.[3] With that said, the production of dry cask storage units on the site of Pilgrim increase the enhanced dangers of spent fuel being released into the local community, and causing even more devastation that was seen at Fukushima.

[1] http://www.capecodbaywatch.org/2014/09/pilgrim-station-dry-cask-appeal-moves-forward/

[2] http://www.capecodbaywatch.org/radioactive-waste/

[3] http://www.beyondnuclear.org/freeze-our-fukushimas/2013/5/23/states-tell-nrc-to-review-nuclear-waste-storage-at-reactors.html