Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman visits Plymouth

NRC Chairman Allison Mcfarlane.

NRC Chairman Allison Mcfarlane.

Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station got about as a high-level a visit as possible from the federal government last week.

Doctor Allison Mcfarlane, chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission  visited the power plant and met with local officials and activists in a private meeting. In between engagements, she held a press conference at Entergy’s training center on Sandwich Road.

Mcfarlane acknowledged the plant has recently slipped in its performance. Federal regulators recently added it to a list of underperforming reactors. “Inspections are designed to pick up issues early,” Mcfarlane said. Additional resources will be brought in if needed, she added. She said she spoke with plant management and the NRC’s resident inspectors about the issue.

When asked about Entergy’s plans to start moving spent fuel rods from wet to dry storage, Mcfarlane said the the NRC had a “rigorous” program for inspecting the cask site. “This is not new technology,” she said, noting that dry cask fuel storage is already in use at most nuclear power plants in the United States. As for the spent fuel ever actually leaving Plymouth, Mcfarlane said that decision was in the hands of Congress.

While layoffs have recently been announced at the plant, Mcfarlane said it was still, according to NRC regulations, adequately staffed.

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