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Report: Company Decommissioning Pilgrim Nuclear Plant Under Criminal Investigation

The Pilgrim nuclear reactor building. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
The Pilgrim nuclear reactor building. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

Holtec International, a subsidiary of which owns and is decommissioning the inactive nuclear plant in Plymouth, is under criminal investigation, Politico New Jersey reported based on a legal brief filed by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority.

According to the report, New Jersey-based Holtec International sued the NJ EDA in March over the payment of $26 million of a $260 million New Jersey tax incentive, which the agency held up because Holtec allegedy gave a false answer on its 2014 tax credit application.

"Holtec's misrepresentations — which include its failure to disclose a prior government debarment by the Tennessee Valley Authority (the 'TVA') for bribing an official of that agency — first came to light during an investigation conducted by the Governor's Task Force on the Economic Development Authority's Tax Incentive Program, and they are now the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation," the brief read, according to Politico.

A spokesperson and a lawyer for Holtec did not respond to Politico New Jersey, and the company did not immediately return a News Service email seeking a response.

Last week, two Holtec subsidiaries — Holtec Decommissioning International and Holtec Pilgrim LLC — agreed to a settlement with Attorney General Maura Healey and the Baker administration that requires the company to maintain a decommissioning trust fund at a minimum balance and puts other guardrails on the decommissioning of Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station.

Last September, Healey and Baker's Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs sued the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission over the agency's decision to approve the transfer of Pilgrim's license from Entergy to Holtec.

The attorney general, Baker's administration and members of the state's Congressional delegation mounted an effort to block the transfer unless the NRC held a full hearing on concerns over Holtec's ability to safely decommission the nuclear plant, the company's financial stability and its alleged involvement in a kickback scheme. No hearing was held before the NRC approved the transfer.

Holtec has said that it can complete decommissioning work in Plymouth by the end of 2027 and is in the process of removing all spent nuclear fuel from the plant's spent fuel pool and placing it on a newly constructed Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation by early 2022.

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