Rep. Markey opposes new Pilgrim nuclear license

May 4, 2012 — Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressmen Edward J. Markey (D-Malden), dean of the Massachusetts Congressional delegation, and William Keating (D-Bourne) sent a letter to Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Chairman Greg Jaczko urging the Commission not to move forward with its decision on whether to issue the twenty-year license extension for the Pilgrim Nuclear Power  Station until there is a final resolution on all related administrative proceedings and judicial appeals.

In their letter to the NRC, Reps. Markey and Keating write 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.”

The lawmakers expressed concern that an April 20 filing by NRC staff requested that the Commissioners vote to authorize relicensing Pilgrim despite the existence of ongoing administrative proceedings and judicial appeals related to nuclear and environmental safety.

“If the Commission takes the unprecedented step of granting the staff’s request to short-circuit these proceedings and appeals, it will be undermining the very spirit of transparency, participation and collaboration to which it claims to be committed,” write the lawmakers in the letter.

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.

Reps. Markey and Keating also are cosponsors 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.