COMMENTARY: Our very own Fukushima via Wicked Local Marshfield

What comes to mind when you hear “Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station”? Whatever the thought – be it the need for nuclear energy, fear that the plant could cause a problem, or ‘Where is that?’ – you likely haven’t been hearing about it as much as you should.

Media coverage of Pilgrim and its ongoing problems is quite regular in Plymouth, Duxbury and on Cape Cod (note that it earned infamy as #1 in the country for shut-downs this year). In Plymouth, the plant’s hometown, the Board of Selectmen has been addressed by Entergy and residents alike. Attorney General Coakley, Governor Patrick and Senate President Murray challenged the NRC’s decision to renew Pilgrim’s license. Senator Markey has been actively engaged in addressing Pilgrim’s safety shortfalls, and our own State Representative Cantwell has filed legislation pertaining to protecting residents in harm’s way.
The evacuation zone around Pilgrim is limited to a 10-mile radius. This includes a part of Marshfield. After Fukushima, the American Government recommended U.S. citizens evacuate within a 50-mile radius. Boston is 35 miles from Pilgrim. Why then has media in other towns in the vicinity largely declined coverage on it? Why have more Marshfield residents not wanted to become involved? Does this mean most residents who live here do not want to hear about the risks Pilgrim poses?

Pilgrim is a carbon copy of the Fukushima reactor. They are both Mark 1 Boiling Water reactors built by General Electric, of which there are 32 worldwide. Pilgrim has more than double the fuel in its “spent fuel pool” as Fukushima did when disaster struck.
Pilgrim was originally licensed to hold 880 spent fuel assemblies, and currently holds about 3300.
Pilgrim stores its spent fuel 100 feet above ground in the “attic” of the reactor, offering little protection, unlike its core. If this spent fuel is not kept cool it can overheat and cause an uncontrolled fire.

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