Time For A Permanent Shutdown – CapeNews Editorial

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Cape News Editorial – Bourne Opinion – Sept. 4, 2015

The good news is that regulators from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission are going to take a hard look at the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station. The bad news, frightening news to some, is that the NRC has downgraded the plant’s safety rating. The Pilgrim plant has joined only three others in the entire country in the next-to-lowest rating category. None have been rated lower.

Source: Time For A Permanent Shutdown – Editorial – CapeNews.net: Bourne Opinion

The good news is that regulators from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission are going to take a hard look at the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station. The bad news, frightening news to some, is that the NRC has downgraded the plant’s safety rating. The Pilgrim plant has joined only three others in the entire country in the next-to-lowest rating category. None have been rated lower.

Still, Entergy, which operates the plant, and Governor Baker, who recently toured the plant, say the plant is safe. Entergy, of course, has a financial interest in keeping the plant operating. Governor Baker is about the furthest thing from a nuclear engineer. And NRC regulators say they believe the plant is safe.

There is a big difference between “believe” and “know,” and at this point it is pretty clear that no one can really know that the Pilgrim plant is safe.
It is an old plant, the same vintage and model of the Yankee plant in Vermont that was recently shut down. And there have been problems with safety relief valves, which regulate pressure and cooling of the nuclear reactor. The plant was shut down out of safety concerns in 2013 and again in January this year. No one knows exactly why, and this is one of the things regulators are going to investigate.

To Cape Codders, who have no way of escape in the event of a major accident, this escalation of scrutiny at the plant should be of great concern. Our only recourse is to give potassium pills to the children and hunker down in our houses with the windows shut and the doors sealed. It’s not a cheerful thought.

We have to believe the NRC is taking this situation seriously, but we also can’t help but believe the 40-year-old plant is like an old car that still looks good and has a lot of new parts but is at the point where you never know what might go next. Sometimes it’s better to replace a machine than constantly chase down problems with it.

In addition to increased inspection of the Pilgrim plant, the NRC will require Entergy to present a performance improvement plan before regulators at a public meeting. It might be an interesting one to attend.

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