For Immediate Release - December 09, 2011

AG Coakley Appeals Decision Over Relicensing Process of Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant

BOSTON - Attorney General Martha Coakley has appealed to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for review of the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board’s (ASLB) refusal to consider the implications of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in connection with relicensing proceedings for the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station.

"It has never been our office’s intention to ban the use of nuclear energy in Massachusetts,” Attorney General Coakley said. “Nuclear energy, when done right, can play a valuable role in the future of our energy supply. However, in the wake of the Fukushima disaster, we believe the NRC must fully consider whether adequate measures have been taken at Pilgrim to minimize the public safety and environmental risks associated with spent fuel pools.”

In 2006, as part of the relicensing process, the AG's Office asserted that an accident involving the spent fuel pool at Pilgrim would present a significant risk to public safety and the environment and that the NRC should revise its regulations to address these risks. The NRC refused, claiming the risks of spent fuel pools were insignificant.

After the Fukushima disaster in Japan on March 11, 2011, the AG’s Office filed a petition urging the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB) of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to not issue a final relicensing decision regarding Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant (Pilgrim), pending consideration by the NRC of new and significant information raised by that disaster.  In that petition, the AG noted the similarities between the Fukushima nuclear plants and the Pilgrim plant, and argued that the problems experienced at Fukushima were consistent with the concerns highlighted in the 2006 filing.  The AG’s Office asserted that an accident involving the spent fuel pool at Pilgrim would present a significant risk to public safety and the environment and that the ASLB should consider these risks in Pilgrim’s relicensing process. Subsequently, after publication of a preliminary report on Fukushima by an NRC Task Force, the AG’s Office pointed out that the conclusions in that report also supported further study before relicensing the Pilgrim plant. 

In denying the petition, the ASLB ruled, among other things, that the Fukushima accident does not present new and significant information that must be assessed in relation to the Pilgrim plant, reasoning that the risk analysis employed for the plant does not require consideration of actual nuclear accidents.

Assistant Attorney General Matthew Brock of Attorney General Martha Coakley's Environmental Protection Division is handling this matter.

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