BOSTON — Without sufficient funds for safely decommissioning the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station, the state could be left holding the bag once the plant ceases operations, environmental activists warned lawmakers Monday, asking them to impose a $25 million annual fee on the station if it misses deadlines.
The plant is set to close in a year and a half and its owner, Entergy Corp., said the timetable for completing the decommissioning five years after closing is unrealistic.
“Physically it’s impossible to decommission in five years,” Tom Joyce, a lobbyist for Entergy, told the Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy.
The fuel that was delivered to the power plant on the Plymouth coast about six months ago is “very hot and being used now to fuel the reactor and produce electricity, which will stay in the pool and can’t be touched for five years,” Joyce said.
Pilgrim went into operation in 1972, and it has been a source of major safety concern for residents of the South Shore and Cape Cod, especially after the meltdown in Fukushima, Japan.
Closure of the plant will represent a blow to the state’s carbon-free energy goals. Pilgrim generates 680 megawatts of electricity, enough to power more than 600,000 homes, without burning fossil fuel.
The plant, which is rated one notch above the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s ranking of unacceptable, is set to close at the end of May 2019, and federal regulators will oversee the decommissioning process.
“If there’s not enough money the reactor could be mothballed for 60 years, and during that time obviously the workforce would be reduced to a skeleton [crew], offsite emergency planning would be eliminated, and offsite environmental monitoring eliminated or reduced,” Miller told the committee. “If Entergy … skips town, we are left holding the bag, along with lots of radioactive waste.”