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Poor quality nuclear spent fuel casks at Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station

Push for better storage of spent Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station fuel, Cape Cod Times,  Christine Legere Feb 23, 2020
Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station was permanently shut down in May, but more than 4,000 radioactive spent fuel assemblies will continue to be stored at the Plymouth site for the foreseeable future.

Citizen activists in Barnstable County communities will ask voters at spring town meetings, or via local election ballots, to support an advisory question that would direct Gov. Charlie Baker and state legislators to require that the radioactive waste is stored in “better quality” dry casks than those planned for use, and that the casks are protected by earthen berms or within enclosures with heightened security.,

Diane Turco, a Harwich resident and president of Cape Downwinders, said radioactive spent fuel is a national problem, not just a local issue.

The Cape Downwinders wrote the advisory question.

“Fifty percent of Americans live within 50 miles of a nuclear power plant,” Turco said. “Safety is a right. Our petition is to raise consciousness: educate the public about ongoing issues at Pilgrim.”

The selectmen in Orleans and Brewster voted to put the advisory question on their respective spring election ballots, Turco said. In Bourne, the question will go on the town meeting warrant.

Other Barnstable County communities will be presented with the advisory in the coming weeks.

Entergy Corp., Pilgrim’s longtime owner, sold the plant to Holtec International, a New Jersey-based company that will handle decommissioning, spent fuel management and site cleanup.

Turco and other Pilgrim critics have complained that Holtec has a conflict of interest since the company uses dry casks that it manufactures. The Holtec Hi-Storm 100s the company uses are concrete-encased stainless steel canisters that are a little over a half-inch thick.

“That’s just three-eighths of an inch thicker than a Yeti cup,” Turco said.

There is no way to monitor the steel canisters once they are sealed, critics say, and there is no aging management plan.

Concern also has been expressed over Holtec’s plan to store spent fuel on a concrete pad just a short distance from a well-traveled road. A vanity fence, rather than earth berms or enclosures, will block the view from the street.

“In this day and age, Pilgrim is an open door for any bad actors who want to cause serious damage to our country,” Turco said. “Nuclear waste is a predeployed nuclear weapon. Its safe storage is being ignored.”………

tate Attorney General Maura Healey filed a motion to intervene in the license transfer several months ago, but the motion remains under review by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Frustrated by the lack of action, Healey sued the NRC last fall in U.S. District Court for approving the transfer of Pilgrim’s license from Entergy Corp. to Holtec International without first listening to what state officials and the public had to say about it. The case is pending.

Healey contends that Holtec is inexperienced in decommissioning and will likely run out of money before the job is done. Holtec will use the plant’s decommissioning trust fund, which contains $1.1 billion in ratepayer money.

The Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel, which is made up of local officials, representatives from state agencies and members of the public, has been frustrated by Holtec’s lack of response during monthly meetings regarding decommissioning and spent fuel.

Holtec’s continuing refusal to answer the advisory panel and the public’s questions about the safety and expected longevity of the company’s dry cask storage technology is not only disturbing, it’s outrageous,” Sean Mullin, chairman of the advisory panel, wrote in an email. “The citizens of the Commonwealth have a right to know how, for example, Holtec can accurately monitor the sealed casks for problems and, if detected, how these can be repaired.”

The NRC director of the Division of Nuclear Materials Safety, a senior health physicist, senior materials engineer and chief of the NRC’s Storage and Transportation Licensing Branch will attend an advisory panel meeting set for 6:30 p.m. Monday in Plymouth Town Hall to discuss the region’s concerns.

Follow Christine Legere on Twitter: @ChrisLegereCCT.

February 25, 2020 - Posted by | safety, USA, wastes

1 Comment »

  1. I would love to ask the NRC how they meet the requirements for the ISFSI, especially for testing, retrieval without a spent fuel pool, lack of relief valves, and no ability to conduct testing, all required by 10 CFR 72 Regulations. Unless something changes, Holtec will just be pre-positioning dirty nuclear weapons at Pilgrim for any terrorist to use.
    Holtec and the NRC should be willing to openly discuss these issues with experts.

    Comment by Paul Blanch | February 25, 2020 | Reply

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