Uncertainty On Jobs, Safety As Pilgrim Nuclear Plant Closure Approaches

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Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

The closure of the Pilgrim nuclear power plant in 2019 has many of the workers there wondering about their futures, and anti-nuclear power activists concerned about safety.

At a meeting Tuesday night hosted by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the two groups shared their concerns with federal regulators.

Daniel Dove of Plymouth handles the shipment of nuclear waste from Pilgrim.

"I’ve been at the station approximately five years, and I believe in nuclear power, and I find it unfortunate we’re going to close this plant down before the end of its usefulness," he said.

Despite any past concerns, federal regulators told the crowd they are pleased, overall, with how well the plant is managed. But it doesn't change the decision of the plant's owners to close it.

Brian Sullivan is the top official at the Pilgrim station. He said the New Orleans-based company that owns the plant plans to take care of its employees.

"To remove anxiety, the company, Entergy Corporation, has made a commitment to all employees at Pilgrim station that there will be a job for them following cessation of operations at Pilgrim station," he said.

Entergy is also working with the state Department of Labor to identify training and other ways to prepare people for life post-Pilgrim, said Sullivan.

But for the dozens of anti-nuclear activists who came to the meeting, their chief concern is the safety of the surrounding communities as the plant moves toward closure.

Many said they were concerned another bad storm could make the region vulnerable to a nuclear disaster.

Activist Djamil Graham said she's grateful for one thing: the workers at the nuclear plant.

"If it wasn’t for you people, we would have sunk a long time ago. And I know that, I know that with my whole heart, if there wasn’t decent caring honest people at Pilgrim nuclear power plant, we would be screwed," she said.

Dove said he's still holding out hope that there's some way to keep Pilgrim viable.

"I’m hoping for the Hail Mary pass, someone is going to come in and buy it, because we’re not over until we put the breaker and we hand the license back," he said.

And unlike some of his colleagues, Dove says he has no plans to leave Plymouth, even when the plant closes.

This segment aired on March 28, 2018.

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Simón Rios Reporter
Simón Rios is an award-winning bilingual reporter in WBUR's newsroom.



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