Note: on On March 19, 2014, Governor Patrick sent a letter to the NRC.
By Andy Metzger
State House News Service
Posted Mar. 10, 2014 @ 5:25 pm, Updated Mar 10, 2014 at 5:40 PM
BOSTON — Protestors from Cape Cod prevailed upon Gov. Deval Patrick on Monday, persuading him to use his office in their effort to close the Plymouth nuclear plant.
Following hours of rallying and occupying the governor’s lobby, organizer Diane Turco, of Harwich, was brought into Patrick’s office for a quick meeting where he asked her to pass along resolutions from Cape towns and said he would send those to the federal agency that regulates nuclear power plants.
After the meeting, Patrick said, “I’m going to write a letter, yes,” when asked if he would call on federal regulators to close the plant. An aide said he would write his own letter.
“I’d rather we didn’t have it. And I’ve expressed that publicly before,” Patrick told reporters on his way to an event Monday afternoon. He also said, “It doesn’t matter what I think.”
Carrying posters with the nuclear symbol atop a map of Cape Cod Bay or pictured in an open oyster shell, the activists rallied in a State House auditorium, packed the lobby of Patrick’s temporary second floor office, and made grim predictions.
WATCH THE RALLY
In May 2012, the 42-year-old Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Manomet received a 20-year license renewal from the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission, a five-member body appointed by the president.
“We would only act to shut down the plant if we identified significant and pervasive problems that could call into question the facility’s safety. We have not seen issues of that magnitude at Pilgrim,” NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan told the News Service in an email.
Sheehan said the plant has received additional oversight because of performance indicators that track unplanned shutdowns and unplanned shutdowns with complications.
In a March 4 letter from NRC Regional Administrator William Dean, the NRC said it would conduct a public meeting to review “station performance.”
A lobbyist for Entergy, the plant’s owner, did not respond to a request for comment. A spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Senate President Therese Murray, who has called for the creation of a national nuclear waste storage area, said she wished federal regulators listened to her concerns, while noting the positive aspects of the plant in her district. Without a national nuclear waste area, each plant site holds its spent fuel rods, even after it closes down.
“We can’t close Pilgrim because we don’t have the authority to do it,” Murray said. She said, “Six-hundred-fifty people work at that plant. It produces electricity. Am I concerned about it? Yeah. I fought against Pilgrim, too, and I fought against keeping the rods stored in a pool, and I’m fighting with NRC for 20 years.” She said, “I think they should have listened to our concerns before they gave the license.”