BOSTON — Gov. Deval Patrick pledged on Monday to write a letter to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, expressing concerns about the safety of the Pilgrim nuclear power plant in Plymouth.
Patrick made the promise after meeting briefly with the head of a group of Cape Cod residents seeking to shut down the plant. The governor said he shares the group’s safety concerns about the plant and has expressed them both publicly and to the federal agency overseeing nuclear power in the past.
“I’d rather we didn’t have it,” Patrick told reporters, referring to Pilgrim. “I’ve expressed that publicly before and I’ve expressed that to the (NRC) and I’ll do it again.”
Patrick also said he doesn’t have the authority to shut down the plant.
“It doesn’t matter what I think,” he said.
The NRC voted in 2012 to relicense Pilgrim through 2032. Pilgrim’s operators say the plant produces about 10 percent of Massachusetts’ electricity needs and the plant is safe and secure.
Diane Turco of the group Cape Downwinders pointed to a non-binding referendum approved by more than a dozen Cape Cod communities last year that called for the plant’s shut down.
“He’s going to call for the NRC to shut down the reactor because public safety cannot be assured,” Turco said after meeting with Patrick. “That’s what this says and that’s what he said he would send to the NRC.”
Activists tied their visit to the State House to the eve of the third anniversary of the meltdowns at the Fukushima nuclear power plants in Japan.
Patrick and other state leaders — including House Speaker Robert DeLeo, Attorney General Martha Coakley, and Senate President Therese Murray, whose district includes Plymouth — sent a letter to the NRC in 2011 urging that it hold off on Pilgrim’s relicensing request.
Murray said Monday her concerns remain. She said the plant employs about 650 workers.
Officials at New Orleans-based Entergy Corp., which owns Pilgrim, told lawmakers in 2011 that while the plant’s design is similar to that of the Fukushima plants, Pilgrim has backup systems that the Japanese plant lacked, including extra diesel generators and better venting systems.