March 23 forum will answer questions on Pilgrim Station closure

On Wednesday, March 23, from 7-9:30 p.m. the Pilgrim Coalition is hosting a public forum at the Plymouth Public Library focused on the closure of Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station and what it means for local communities.

The event will include discussions and presentations by a nationally-regarded panel made up of a nuclear engineer and policy experts, experienced with the closures of Yankee Rowe, Connecticut Yankee, and Entergy’s Vermont Yankee plant.

Most residents are well aware that Pilgrim will be closing on or before June 1, 2019 but know little about the decommissioning process and how closure could impact surrounding communities.

For example, what happens if there is a shortfall in decommissioning funds when the time comes? The most up-to-date information available shows that Pilgrim has $870 million in its Decommissioning Trust Fund (DTF). This is worrisome given that, according to Entergy in 2014, it would likely require more than $1.2 billion to cover the costs of decommissioning, site restoration, and nuclear waste management for its smaller sister plant, Vermont Yankee. Given that Pilgrim is larger than Vermont Yankee, it is likely that Pilgrim’s costs will exceed $1.2 billion. That’s a shortfall of more than $600 million. While Entergy could be allowed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to wait up to 60 years to finish decommissioning Pilgrim (under the long-term “SAFSTOR” process), Massachusetts could still have to make up the difference if there not be enough money left in the DTF to complete the process.

There are also questions regarding the forty years of spent nuclear waste currently stored onsite. What happens to the waste after shutdown? Beginning in 1983 (and ending May 2014), nuclear energy customers paid more than $30 billion into the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Nuclear Waste Fund. The fund was intended for the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository in Nevada. The federal government did not meet its obligations and is no longer siting the repository. With no permanent repository available anytime in the near future, Plymouth’s shoreline could likely be a nuclear waste site for decades, if not hundreds of years.

The Pilgrim Coalition’s March 23 forum is a great opportunity for residents to learn more about Pilgrim’s decommissioning and the implications it could have on local communities for decades to come. For more information, please visit www.pilgrimcoalition.org.

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