The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) announced today that it has authorized the relicensing of Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant (Pilgrim). Below is Rep. Bill Keating's statement in response.
"I am disappointed that the NRC took a vote to relicense Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant despite the fact that there are unresolved administrative proceedings and judicial appeals outstanding. It sets a dangerous precedent and highlights the fact that our current system for relicensing our nuclear power plants is in desperate need of reform. The men and women who work to keep Pilgrim operational and safe are undoubtedly some of the best, but what does today's vote say for the plants across the nation that have yet to go through Post-Fukishima upgrades and have been operational for decades now? While it is not safe for a nuclear plant to be under extended operation status without a renewed license, it is equally unsafe to relicense when ongoing issues exist or without updates being fully implemented. Our current relicensing process allows for both scenarios to happen."
The current license for Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station expires in June 2012, and Entergy Nuclear Operations, Inc., the operator of the facility, has requested permission to continue operating the plant for another 20 years.
On May 4, 2012, Reps. Keating and Markey sent a letter to NRC Chairman Greg Jaczko urging the Commission not to move forward with its decision on whether to issue the twenty-year license extension for Pilgrim until there is a final resolution on all related administrative proceedings and judicial appeals. In their letter to the NRC, Reps. Markey and Keating wrote that "To do otherwise would send an alarming message to all residents living near America's 104 nuclear power plants who are attempting to have an impact on a critical decision that will affect their lives for decades."
Rep. Keating is also a cosponsor of H.R. 1242, The Nuclear Power Plant Safety Act. The legislation calls for the NRC to ensure that nuclear power plants and spent nuclear fuel pools can withstand and adequately respond to earthquakes, tsunamis, strong storms, long power outages, or other events that threaten a major impact. The legislation also calls for a moratorium on nuclear power plant licenses, license extensions, and new nuclear reactor designs until an overhaul of nuclear safety to address the inadequacies exposed by the Fukushima meltdowns is completed.