For Immediate Release - May 02, 2011

AG Coakley Petitions Nuclear Regulatory Commission to Suspend Relicensing of Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant to Fully Consider Lessons From Fukushima Daiichi Accident

BOSTON - Attorney General Martha Coakley today filed a petition urging the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board 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 the Fukushima accident. Entergy, the owners of Pilgrim have requested a 20 year operating renewal license from the NRC. A decision from the NRC on relicensing may be imminent.

"Over the last five years, my Office has consistently raised serious concerns about the storage of spent fuel at Pilgrim," said AG Coakley. "The accident in Japan shows there are many outstanding issues and concerns that the NRC needs to fully consider before Entergy is given a 20 year license extension at Pilgrim. Today, we formally ask the NRC to suspend relicensing until it considers these issues."

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. In her filing today, the Attorney General's Office notes that the accident in Japan involving spent fuel pools appears consistent with the accident scenarios and risks raised by her office five years ago.

In its petition, the AG's Office notes that the NRC Task Force created to look at the lessons of Fukushima is reviewing a number of issues that are relevant to the relicensing of Pilgrim including technical issues related to spent fuel pools and that the Task Force should complete its work before Pilgrim is relicensed. The AG's Office also asks the NRC to grant the Commonwealth an additional thirty days, until June 2, 2011, to submit expert testimony in support of this request for relicensing suspension.

In mid-April, various public interest groups asked the NRC to suspend adjudicatory, licensing and rulemaking actions for more than 20 nuclear power proceedings across the country. These petitioners made the request to ensure that new and significant information regarding the safety and environmental implication of the ongoing catastrophic accident at Fukushima would be considered in licensing proceedings. Shortly thereafter, the NRC solicited responses, which the Attorney General's Office submits today.

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