Comments to the NRC at Plymouth MA meeting March 21, 2017 from:
Representatives Cantwell, Crocker, Fernades, Hunt, Peake, Vieira, Whelan and Senator Cyr**.
Thank you very much for your presentation to the delegation yesterday. We wish we could say that based on your presentation we feel comforted and confident that the ongoing operation of the Pilgrim nuclear power station will be flawless and uninterrupted. Unfortunately, we came away from that meeting with as many or more concerns than we had prior to the meeting. Most alarming, were the NRC findings around “Safety Culture”. To quote from your PowerPoint presentation “Pilgrim leaders have not held themselves and their subordinates accountable to high standards of performance.” It is no wonder that the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station remains at a category 4 level.
As you described it, management’s response to improving the safety culture was underwhelming. At best, they displayed incompetence, having no idea how to change their corporate culture for the better; at worst, they were just extending their “middle finger” to you the NRC, to the surrounding Plymouth community, and to all who are potentially affected by their poor operating standards. That includes our constituents and most residents of Massachusetts.
Let’s remember, this is a critique of safety culture at a nuclear power plant. Their attitude and response would be alarming in any factory or manufacturing setting, but here the consequences of this culture continuing are far more dire.
Because of our concerns based on past performance and our ongoing concerns stemming from your report, we ask that the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant not be refueled this spring and that the orderly shutdown of this plant begin immediately.
As part of that shutdown process, we ask that the Town of Plymouth be made whole and that Entergy’s agreement with them for the PILOT payments be honored. The Town’s finances should not be further jeopardized because Entergy’s seeming inability to correct safety and the safety culture at the plant.
Also of critical importance is the establishment or continuation of a robust program benefiting the non-management workers who will be displaced during the shutdown.
We understand that ISO New England has contracted with Entergy to supply power into 2019 and that there is a penalty clause in that contract. We will work with the Baker administration, ISO New England, and Entergy to lift the yoke of any proposed penalty.
We further ask that the NRC continue to have inspectors present at the plant both while it’s operational and after it ceases producing energy. The lax safety culture has a half life, just as the spent fuel does. It will continue to be critically important that plant operations are monitored and all involved in the operation and shutdown are held to the highest safety standards. Thank you for your time.
* NOTE: Senator deMacedo did not sign the above letter, but he did voice strong concerns about Pilgrim’s performance and regulation. Aides for Senator Edward Markey, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey and Representative William Keating also read statements strongly critical of the NRC.
** Senator Cyr said, “I unequivocally call for the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station to be shutdown immediately. That means now, that means today.” See his full comments.