PLYMOUTH — The owner of Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station is being required to spend about $5 million over the next three years to prove the Plymouth plant and the pools where spent fuel rods are stored can stand up to tremors from regional earthquakes.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission had required all nuclear plant owners in the eastern and central United States to submit hazard risk reports based on updated seismic data, by the end of last month.
The NRC also required that if seismic activity was found to have increased considerably, plants would have to do further study. Updated seismic data concluded Pilgrim could feel the effects of earthquakes as far away as 400 miles. The previous estimated distance had been 200 miles.
U.S. Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., issued the following statement Thursday, shortly after the power plants’ evaluation reports were posted on the NRC’s website: “Pilgrim is clearly at higher seismic risk than previously believed, and the NRC should immediately implement mitigation measures in order to keep nearby residents and businesses safe.”
[…]Richard Drake, another of Entergy’s structural engineers, doesn’t expect the further scrutiny to result in the need for any structural beefing up at Pilgrim.
“I believe it’s just going to be a paper exercise,” Drake said.
“The new seismic report broadened its look even to Canada, and it picked up a lot of smaller level earthquakes,” Drake said. “There are no faults in the area of Pilgrim, so it’s just earth shifting and rebounding from glacial receding.”
Drake said the abundance of rock along the East Coast results in motion being felt for greater distances “but it doesn’t do any destruction.”
Read more at NRC: Quake hazards may imperil nuke plants
Related article: Markey, Warren: Better Earthquake Safety Needed at Nuclear Plants