Federal Regulators Renew Pilgrim Nuclear Plant's Operating License

Federal regulators have given the go-ahead to a new 20-year operating license for the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth.

On Friday, members of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission voted 3-1 in favor of allowing Pilgrim to operate through the year 2032. The 40-year-old plant's current license is scheduled to expire June 8.

The final decision (PDF) came hours after the commission's chairman said he had voted not to renew the license, citing pending litigation against the plant. Chairman Gregory Jaczko had urged colleagues to delay their votes while the litigation remains unresolved.

NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan told WBUR's Monica Brady-Myerov that the decision follows the longest review on record.

"Based on all reviews that have taken place to date, including a thorough safety review [and] environmental impact review," he said, "we do believe that the plant would be safe for an additional 20 years of operation."

As the Associated Press has reported:

Opponents of Pilgrim relicensing say even after a six-year review the plant has unaddressed security, safety and environmental concerns.

A coalition that had fought license renewal said Friday it's outraged by the approval.

"[Eleven] towns have approved a message to the NRC saying, 'Please don't issue this new license for another 20 years until we're assured that it's safe,' and we do not have those assurances," Sarah Alterr, with the group Pilgrim Coalition, told Monica.

Entergy Corp., the company that operates Pilgrim, praised the commission's decision, saying it preserves 650 jobs.

The NRC's staff had already recommended to the commission that Pilgrim's licensed be renewed.

Earlier this week, Jaczko announced he will resign as soon as his replacement is confirmed.

This post has been updated throughout.

This article was originally published on May 25, 2012.

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Benjamin Swasey Digital Manager
Ben is WBUR's digital news manager.



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