Pilgrim Watch Testimony

Pilgrim Watch (“PW”) is a non-profit citizens’ organization that serves the public interest on issues regarding the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station specifically and on nuclear power in general. The organization is located at 148 Washington Street, Duxbury, Massachusetts, 02332. Its membership extends throughout the Commonwealth.

May 1, 2015: Pilgrim Watch Testimony in Favor of S.1798: An Act Establishing Funding to Provide Moneys for Postclosure Activities at Nuclear Power Stations


We ask your support for An Act establishing funding to provide moneys for postclosure activities at nuclear power stations, presented by Senator Daniel A. Wolf. (Attachment A). The purpose of the Act is insure that, after Pilgrim shuts down, there will be money available for a complete and timely decommissioning of the Pilgrim site, or any commercial reactor in the Commonwealth, to protect the economic interests of the Commonwealth. The Act would require Pilgrim, and any other commercial nuclear reactor in the Commonwealth, to pay an annual $25,000,000 post-closure funding fee. The fee will be placed in a trust fund in the office of the State Treasurer. After Pilgrim, or any other commercial nuclear reactor in the Commonwealth, has been completely decommissioned, any excess in the fund will be returned to the plant owner, with interest.

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May 1, 2015: Pilgrim Watch Testimony in Favor of S.1797: An Act Establishing a Fee in the Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel in Pools

We ask your support for An Act establishing a fee on the storage of spent nuclear fuel in pools put forward by Senator Daniel A. Wolf. (Attachment A). The Act provides significant economic benefits to the Commonwealth, and the Commonwealth state has the authority to enact it.

I. Why the Act is Needed – Economic Considerations

The Act would give the Commonwealth two major economic benefits.

First, it gives the towns affected by nuclear power plant the money they need to protect themselves from the risks that a nuclear power plant presents, e.g. security and emergency planning and preparedness; and, it provides the Commonwealth with security in response to Nuclear Regulatory Commission plans to allow spent nuclear fuel to be stored in Pilgrim’s on-site spent fuel pool until June of 2092, sixty years after Pilgrim’s extended operating license will expire, and at least that many years after Pilgrim is likely to shut down.

Second, it reduces the risk that a spent fuel accident will result in hundreds of billions of damage to the Commonwealth, and cause tens of thousands of radiation-caused latent cancers making almost 10,000 square miles of the Commonwealth uninhabitable for decades, and displacing more than 4 million people. It does so by giving nuclear power plant owners a strong incentive to reduce the number of spent nuclear fuel assemblies in their spent fuel pools, and thus concomitantly reduce what the Massachusetts Attorney General estimated to be the consequences of a spent fuel pool fire at Pilgrim.

  • In the course of the proceedings that extended Pilgrim’s operating license from 2012 to 2032, the Massachusetts Attorney General estimated that a spent fuel pool fire at Pilgrim could cause up to $488 billion dollars in damages and cause up to 24,000 latent cancers. A 2013 NRC Study found that a spent pool fire at a Pennsylvania reactor similar to Pilgrim could make an area of 9,400 square miles (more than the entire area of Massachusetts) uninhabitable for decades, and displace as many as 4.1 million people (more than half the total population of Massachusetts. Plymouth, where Pilgrim is located, itself has a population of about 500,000, a land areas of about 660 square miles, and real estate with a current assessed value of slightly more than 9 billion dollars
  • The Price-Anderson Act, the nuclear industry’s liability insurance, does not cover the costs of cleaning-up after a nuclear accident. Therefore the state and taxpayers will pay, and have every reason to reduce potential risks and costs of doing so.
  • Waste disposal responsibility and costs after a nuclear reactor accident also are the responsibility of the state and local community.
  • So long as nuclear fuel remains on-site at Pilgrim, the State and local communities will have on-going security and emergency planning costs.
  • The spent nuclear fuel at Pilgrim, like any other hazardous waste facility, will continue to adversely affect the value of surrounding real estate, and tax revenues.
  • The risk of a spent fuel accident, and the potential consequences, are far less if the spent fuel is moved from the spent fuel pool into dry storage casks.
  • Whether there will be a spent fuel pool accident at Pilgrim Station is obviously uncertain. But it is undeniable that the fewer number of assemblies in the pool means there is a smaller potential radioactive release and smaller economic consequences for the Commonwealth. Giving Pilgrim’s owner an incentive to reduce the number of radioactive spent nuclear fuel assemblies in the pool is within the state’s authority to protect its economic interests.

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