AG Healey Urges Congress to Increase Safety at Nuclear Power Plants and Decommissioned Sites
AG Sends Letter to Senate Committee Leadership Supporting Passage of Safe and Secure Decommissioning Act of 2015, Nuclear Plant Decommissioning Act of 2015 and Dry Cask Storage Act of 2015
BOSTON — In a letter sent today to U.S. Senator James M. Inhofe, Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and Ranking Member Barbara Boxer, Attorney General Maura Healey urged Congress to pass legislation to safely dispose of spent fuel rods to protect the health and well-being of residents and the environment.
She expressed support for three key pieces of legislation that are vital to increasing the safety and security at decommissioning reactors and the storage of spent nuclear fuel at power plants including Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth, the state’s only nuclear power plant. In her letter, AG Healey advocates for the passage of the Safe and Secure Decommissioning Act of 2015 (S. 944), the Nuclear Plant Decommissioning Act of 2015 (S. 964)) and the Dry Cask Storage Act of 2015 (S. 945). The bills are all sponsored or co-sponsored by Senator Edward Markey.
“The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has long had an obligation to develop meaningful long-term solutions to the current on-site storage of nuclear waste in facilities across the country, yet it has failed to do so,” AG Healey said in her letter. “Its failure to act poses risks to public safety and the environment.”
In her letter AG Healey said that the federal government must ensure that the proper security is in place at decommissioned plants where spent fuel is stored and that all spent fuel rods are transferred from wet pools to safer dry cask storage. AG Healey also said that the public must have an opportunity to participate in the decommissioning process for retiring power plants.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is the independent federal agency charged with ensuring the public’s health and safety in relation to nuclear energy. The Attorney General’s Office has urged the NRC since 2006 to revise its regulations to address the severe risks to public safety and the environment from any accident involving spent fuel at Pilgrim.
“While we are hopeful the federal government will fulfill its obligations to provide a long-term storage solution, the absence of a long-term solution has created issues for states and their residents that need to be addressed now,” AG Healey said in the letter.
In 2012, the Attorney General’s Office appealed the NRC’s decision to relicense the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant Station for 20 years in the wake of safety issues raised in the aftermath of the Fukushima accident. This appeal came after the AG’s Office petitioned the NRC in 2011 not to issue a final relicensing of Pilgrim without considering the lessons learned from Fukushima.