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NY congressman questions impact of climate change on nuclear facilities via SNL

By Matthew Bandyk

Citing a recent incident at Entergy Corp.’s Pilgrim plant in Massachusetts, Tonko questioned the four members of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission about what should be done about this potential problem as they testified at a Sept. 9 hearing held by the committee’s Energy and Power and Environment and the Economy subcommittees.

On one day this August, the Pilgrim plant had to cut power by 10% as the water the facility pulls in from Cape Cod Bay for cooling hit 75.09 degrees, only the fourth time in the plant’s history that intake water exceeded the NRC’s 75-degree limit, The Boston Globe reported Aug. 11. The other three times all occurred in the summer of 2013.

A scientist at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute told the newspaper that Cape Cod Bay has been getting demonstrably warmer over time and that nuclear plants should consider modifying their intake pipes in response. But Entergy said the hot temperatures that day were an unusual, specific incident caused by winds and tides.

[…]
“The NRC doesn’t have any studies or rulemaking processes under way that would look explicitly at the effect of climate change on plant operations,” NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan said in an email after the hearing.

In 2014, the NRC signed off on a request from Dominion Resources Inc.’s Millstone nuclear plant in Connecticut to allow it to draw water up to 80 degrees instead of 75. Entergy, however, has not yet asked the NRC for a license amendment request to change its temperature limit.
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