Is the town willing to give Entergy a blank check?
By Frank Mand
Wicked Local Plymouth
Posted Jun 04, 2013 @ 06:00 PM
Most of the critics of Entergy and its Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant would, if pressed, admit that the plant’s closure is their ultimate goal. But they insist that has little to do with their conviction that the town should require Entergy to get a special permit to build dry cask storage (or an Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation) on its grounds in Manomet.
Those critics argue that the town’s regulations require a special permit for this massive construction project. And they say the town would be giving away all control over this project – and unnecessarily subjecting the community to safety risks and financial hardships down the road – if it accepts the decision of the director of inspectional services to allow that construction without a special permit and public hearing.
To make that point, and more, a coalition of organizations recently held a community forum, during which the groups tried to explain 1) why Entergy needs this facility in the first place, 2) what the risks associated with Entergy’s existing plans are, and 3) the basis of the legal appeal of the permit decision made by Director of Inspectional Services Paul McAuliffe.
What’s the rush?
Entergy needs this facility because without it Pilgrim will have to cease operations, EcoLaw Attorney Meg Sheehan explained.
The place where the plant presently stores spent fuel-rod assemblies – the so-called “spent fuel pool” housed at the top of the reactor building – is running out of space.
Designed for less than 1,000 of these assemblies, Pilgrim’s spent fuel pool now houses more than 3,000.
Critics say spent fuel pools are dangerous and cite their part in the Fukushima disaster to bolster arguments for alternative forms of storage, including dry cask storage.
But Entergy has acknowledged it is not planning to build dry cask storage because of safety concerns; it’s strictly a financial decision. That’s why the company is not expected to immediately construct all the dry cask units it will eventually need (more than 100). Instead, Entergy plans to build a smaller number and transfer the spent-fuel assemblies as needed.
Because financial concerns are a primary motivation for constructing dry cask storage, Sheehan said, the construction plans include other decisions that may not be in the town’s best interest.
That’s where Pilgrim Watch Founder Mary Lampert’s part of the forum began.
My way or the highway?
Lampert explained some of the risks associated with building this storage installation Entergy’s way, as opposed, Lampert said, to the right way.