PLYMOUTH — On the eve of a visit by a top nuclear regulator, the union that represents workers at the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant in Plymouth reported Thursday that plant owner Entergy plans to lay off “several” workers there.
Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairwoman Allison Macfarlane plans to visit the plant on Friday, and she will hold a media availability from noon to 12:30 p.m. Macfarlane visited Seabrook Station in New Hampshire on Thursday. According to the Utility Workers Union of America Local 369, the Entergy plans to cut as many as eight technicians, technical specialists, and administrators, including experienced workers who write the procedures that govern protocols at Pilgrim.
A company spokesman said there are plans to reduce seven union members, and the reduction will not impact safety at the plant. “The determination of positions that could be eliminated was based on careful consideration not to impact plant safety, security or reliability. Of the seven union positions identified for reduction, all are administrative in nature,” said Entergy Nuclear Communications Manager Jim Sinclair in a statement.
He said the layoffs were part of a “comprehensive redesign” announced in July and the company is seeking to place the individuals in other roles.
“These layoffs are concerning and it’s unclear why Entergy feels it needs to cut staff at this time,” said UWUA Local 369 President Daniel Hurley in a statement.
“It is ironic that days after Entergy Pilgrim Nuclear Power plant is placed on a dubious list of 15 underperforming nuclear sites in the country, the company has chosen profits over safety,” Hurley said. “Our first priority is the safety of our members and our communities, and no one knows how to operate this plant better than the men and women who have been working here for decades.”
Entergy also said operating at the “highest levels of safety and reliability” is its top priority. Union officials want more information from Entergy about the layoffs, which they say are expected as early as Dec. 13. Entergy in August announced plans to close its Vermont Yankee power plant. A company lobbyist said at the time that its plans in Vermont would have no impact on Pilgrim.