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Staff ‘Overwhelmed’ at Nuclear Plant, but U.S. Won’t Shut It

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Katharine Q. Seelye reports in the NY Times:

One by one, ordinary residents confronted the federal regulators, telling them during a three-hour meeting Tuesday night that the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station here was not safe and should be shut down.

Their chief piece of evidence? An internal email written Dec. 6 by the leader of a federal inspection team and sent accidentally — thanks to autofill in the “to” line — to Diane Turco, a citizen activist opposed to the plant.

The email outlined a host of problems at the aging plant, 40 miles southeast of Boston, including that the plant managers seemed “overwhelmed just trying to run the station.”

Ms. Turco immediately forwarded the email to The Cape Cod Times, which ran an article that set off alarm bells across the state and reignited residents’ long-simmering worries about the plant, which has been classified by federal regulators as one of the three worst-performing of the nation’s 99 nuclear plants.

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The email — and the debate that has followed — have forced a painful reckoning here in Plymouth, where many residents have been supportive of the plant, which has long provided this historic town with high-paying jobs, a boon to the tax base and contributions to charities.

Finally, after weeks of escalating concerns, officials from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission agreed to meet with the residents and several elected officials here on Tuesday night.

The meeting drew 300 people in a snowstorm to a nondescript hotel ballroom, where many were armed with neon green placards saying “Shut Pilgrim Now.” The residents said they viewed the damaging email as exactly the sort of evidence they needed to finally make a substantive argument against the station.

But to the surprise of some at the meeting, the regulators acknowledged the problems. Donald Jackson, the inspector who wrote the email, discussed its main points. And the regulators said the problems raised in the message were being addressed and, most important, were not serious enough to close the plant.

“I have to have a sound technical and legal basis to do that,” Dan Dorman, the regional administrator for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said in an interview after the meeting.

“One of the purposes of this inspection was to dive deep into this station and see if that basis for closing was there,” he said. “And what I’m hearing right now from this team is they didn’t find it.”

In addition, he said, . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

13 February 2017 at 5:20 pm

Posted in Daily life, Government

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