Holtec/Pilgrim Nuclear Site Advocacy

The Pilgrim nuclear power plant in Plymouth was officially shut down on May 31, 2019, and is in the process of decommissioning. Decommissioning is the process by which nuclear power plants are safely retired from service. The progression involves decontaminating the facility to reduce residual radioactivity, dismantling the structures, removing contaminated materials to appropriate disposal facilities and releasing the property for other uses. The owner remains accountable to the NRC (Nuclear Regulatory Commission) until decommissioning has been completed and the agency has terminated its license. LWV of the Plymouth area has been active in ensuring that the public is aware of the risks associated with the decommissioning and advocating for safety of Plymouth’s citizens, land, and waters.

League member Henrietta Cosentino is the Plymouth representative on the local NDCAP (Nuclear Decommissioning Advisory Panel). She keeps the league up to date on the most recent activities and sends out calls to action when vital legislation needs support.

Her most recent (January 2023) report is available here.

Holtec/Pilgrim-Related Work in the State Legislature

Watch: Our Nuclear Future

On June 22, 2021,Henrietta Cosentino of the Plymouth area league joined Rosemary Shields of the Cape Cod League to testify before the Massachusetts Legislature’s Joint Committee on Public Health in support of  bills that would address serious deficiencies in the current monitoring system.  We are hopeful that these bills will be voted affirmatively out of committee and move on to pass through the legislature.

Watch the video presentation, and read more below:

  • Why these bills are needed
  • What you can do

Why These Bills are Needed

By the end of the year, Pilgrim’s ISFSI (independent spent fuel storage installation) pad will contain 62 dry casks containing more than 30 times the Cesium-137 released at Chernobyl. Currently the NRC does not require individual casks to be monitored beyond daily visual inspections to ensure that passive heat removal system remains operable—that air inlet and outlet vents are not blocked. But the thin-walled casks and cement-clad overpacks degrade and crack over time, especially in our marine environment.  There is as yet no technology to fully inspect, repair or replace a defective casks. The casks are warrantied for 25 years only.  Their contents remain toxic for at least 250,000 years.  Given that welds and vents can and do fail, leaks are certain to happen sometime down the line.  The NRC’s thermoluminescent dosimeters (TLDs) do not measure in real time; their data typically gets transmitted either quarterly or annually. Holtec has not responded to a request for details of their locations, theoretically at the perimeters of the ISFSI pad.  To protect public health, we need rigorous real-time daily data reporting from individual casks.  For a more detailed argument, see written testimony here.

What You Can Do

Companion bills in the Massachusetts Senate (S.1507) and House (H.2254) are currently in committee. You can help move these bills into the legislature by emailing your support to any or all of the sponsoring legislators; and to the Chairs of the Joint Committee on Public Health:

Sponsoring legislators: 

You may also email your own representative or senator directly. Susan Moran is Plymouth’s senator. Kathy LaNatra and Matthew Muratore (<Mathew.Muratore@mahouse.gov>) are our reps.

Make your email as simple as possible—a line or two is sufficient.  Expressing strong support for S. 1507 and H. 2254 because they will increase the safety of the spent fuel stored at Pilgrim.