Posted on    March 21, 2014      Bruce Gellerman    Source (WBUR)

PLYMOUTH, Mass. — Twelve Cape Cod residents were found guilty Friday in Plymouth District Court for illegally entering the grounds of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant.

The defendants admitted to trespassing at the Plymouth facility, but used the seldom argued necessity defense, declaring they were innocent because they were trying to prevent an imminent public danger.

Diana Turco, co-founder of Cape Downwinders, a group of Cape Cod residents who want the plant shut down, was one of 12 defendants.

“There are cancers caused by the nuclear power plant. There is no assurance of public safety in the evacuation plans. Those are huge issues,” Turco said.

The judge ruled the standards for the necessity defense were not met.

The 12 defendants were found guilty and each was sentenced to a day in jail, or time served.

Posted on    March 21, 2014  

A group of Cape Cod residents marched on the Boston State House (March 10, 2014) to call upon Governor Patrick to shut down the outdated, dangerous Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant (PNPP) in Plymouth, Massachusetts. The group presented extracts of official petitions signed by all 15 Cape Cod towns.

Governor Patrick, after speaking that day with Diane Turco, organizer of the rally, agreed to send out a letter to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission requesting that that the plant be shut down because public safety cannot be assured.

State Senator Daniel A. Wolf spoke at the rally to lend his continued support to what Cape Cod protestors were asking for.

Posted on    March 19, 2014      Andy Metzger    Source (WBUR)

BOSTON — Citing the lack of a “viable evacuation plan,” Gov. Deval Patrick has asked the nation’s top nuclear regulator to order the decommissioning of Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station if it does not comply with “all health, safety and environmental regulations.”

Patrick’s letter to Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairwoman Allison Macfarlane, dated March 17 and obtained by the State House News Service, fulfills a promise he recently made to protestors from Cape Cod, who filled the hallway outside his office March 10 urging him to call for the plant’s closure.

Joyce McMahon, a spokeswoman for the nuclear plant’s owner, said Patrick’s request “is no more than a request for the NRC to fulfill the role it has at every plant every day. It does not appear that he is calling for anything above and beyond to be done at Pilgrim.”

NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan told the News Service that any violations at Pilgrim “have not risen above very low safety significance in recent years.”

All 15 Cape Cod towns have officially called for the closure of the nuclear plant, and Patrick said he shares their concerns.

“The potential impact of a major event at the plant is disquieting,” wrote Patrick, who opposed the NRC’s 2012 decision to relicense the roughly 40-year-old plant for another 20 years of operation. Patrick wrote, “The unique geographical relationship between Plymouth and the communities comprising Cape Cod and Southeastern Massachusetts could put those residents at serious risk should there be an accident.”

Keep reading

Posted on    March 4, 2014  

Read It

In This Issue:

  • 3/7: “Atomic States of America” Screening
  • 3/10: Wake Up the Governor Rally in Boston
  • 3/11: Fukushima Anniversary
  • 4/2: PC Member Gathering – MARK IT WITH A STAR!
  • Cape Cod Times Editorial: Is Gov. Patrick ignoring Cape Cod and the Islands?
  • PC Member of the Month: Heather Lightner
  • CCBW Asks U.S. EPA: Terminate Pilgrim Nuclear Water Pollution Permit, Unacceptable Destruction to Cape Cod Bay’s Marine Resources
  • Support Plymouth Town Meeting Article 33

Posted on    February 6, 2014      Frank Mand, Wicked Local Plymouth    Source

PLYMOUTH – The NRC has announced that Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station’s “performance indicators” have changed again.

Performance indicators show how well a plant is performing “when measured against established thresholds.”

At the conclusion of every quarter, plant owners voluntarily provide the agency with data that determines if there will be any changes to the performance indicators that cover areas such as unplanned shutdowns, emergency siren functionality and the effectiveness of radiological controls.

Based on its performance during the third quarter of 2013, Pilgrims’ performance indicator for “unplanned scrams (shutdowns) with complications” was changed late last year from “green” to “white.” That change resulted in the NRC notifying Entergy, the plant’s owner, that it would face additional scrutiny.Keep reading

Posted on    January 18, 2014      Christine Legere, Cape Cod Times    Source

PLYMOUTH — Concentrations of a radioactive isotope called tritium found in late December during groundwater monitoring at Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station were the highest detected since testing began at the plant in 2007. Tritium — a byproduct of the nuclear fission process — was found at 69,000 picocuries per liter in a sample taken from a well adjacent to a catch basin that collects and releases waste from the reactor into Cape Cod Bay.Keep reading (Cape Cod Times)

Posted on    December 4, 2013      Source

(Cape Cod Online) PLYMOUTH – The timing of the latest shutdown of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station was somewhat ironic. Representatives from Entergy Corp., Pilgrim’s owner-operator, were offering a scheduled presentation to officials and residents at Plymouth Town Hall on Tuesday night, touting the nuclear plant’s safety features and outlining post-Fukushima federal requirements for future improvement.

Meanwhile, just a few miles down the road, Pilgrim operators were struggling to fix yet another of the many mechanical malfunctions that have plagued the power plant during the last several months. This time, the problem involved a leak in a valve that provides steam to the main turbine. Ultimately, the nuclear reactor had to be shut down early Wednesday morning.

Pilgrim already leads the nation’s fleet of 100 reactors for its number of shutdowns in the last year, according to data from the Union of Concerned Scientists.Keep reading (Cape Cod Online)

More on this from the Patriot Ledger

Posted on    November 12, 2013      Frank Mand, OCM    Source

PLYMOUTH — Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Dr. Allison Macfarlane insisted that neither the recently announced layoffs at Pilgrim Station nor the drop in its performance rating – and not even the debate over dry cask storage – had anything to do with her visit to Plymouth. But you have to admire her timing. Keep reading…

Posted on    November 9, 2013      Christine Legere, Cape Cod Times    Source

PLYMOUTH — The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s top official toured the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station on Friday and later told reporters the 41-year-old plant, plagued by mechanical problems, is headed for trouble with federal regulators unless it improves its performance.

When asked whether the NRC would ever close Pilgrim, Allison Macfarlane said the agency has the authority to shutter any plant for as long as it takes for the operation to turn around and run safely.

“We did that with Fort Calhoun in Nebraska, and it’s been closed for two years,” the commission chairman said. “Pilgrim is not in the worst shape yet, but it’s headed that way, and we want to make sure they don’t get there.”

Macfarlane’s visit was routine, but it came at the end of a tough week for Pilgrim.

On Monday, the NRC announced a performance rating drop for the Plymouth plant based on shutdowns with complications over the last several months. The downgrade placed Pilgrim among 22 reactors nationwide that will be more closely watched by federal regulators. Currently it leads the nation’s 100 reactors in shutdowns this year.

Entergy Corp., Pilgrim’s owner-operator, was informed by the NRC on Wednesday that the plant’s standing is expected to fall even further at the close of the year’s fourth quarter, based on its high number of unplanned shutdowns in general.

That further downgrade will place the Plymouth plant among the nation’s eight worst performers.Keep reading

Posted on    November 8, 2013      Chris Burrell, The Patriot Ledger    Source

NRC Pilgrim Assessment Follow-up Letter to Entergy

PLYMOUTH — Federal regulators Monday placed Pilgrim nuclear power plant on a list with 15 other underperforming nuclear reactors in the country.

The decision from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission stems from a rapid shutdown – called an unplanned scram — of Pilgrim last August when pumps feeding water to the nuclear reactor failed because of electrical problems. The move will trigger new inspections of the 685-megawatt nuclear plant by the NRC in the coming months.

“The inspectors will review the company’s root-cause evaluation of the problems that led to the performance indicator change,” said NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan.Keep reading

Posted on    November 7, 2013      State House News Service    Source

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.

Posted on    November 5, 2013      Christine Legere    Source (Cape Cod Times)

PLYMOUTH – The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will be watching Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station’s performance more closely because of complications during unplanned shutdowns of the facility’s reactor over the past year.

The NRC on Monday released third quarter performance reports for the nation’s 100 nuclear power plants.

Pilgrim, which is owned by Entergy Nuclear and located in Plymouth, had two shutdowns with complications so far this year. Such shutdowns should be extremely rare, according to Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesman Neil Sheehan. The maximum allowed by the NRC in a year is one.

Pilgrim will receive “an increased level of oversight,” Sheehan wrote in an email. An NRC inspection team will visit the plant and scrutinize the root cause for recent problems.

Pilgrim is also walking a fine line for unplanned shutdowns in general. No more than three are allowed in a 7,000-hour period of operation. When the third quarter ended, the plant was at 2.9. That number did not include the Oct. 14 unplanned shutdown, which will be considered at the end of the fourth quarter.

Posted on    October 21, 2013      Christine Legere, Cape Cod Times    Source

PLYMOUTH — According to an event report filed with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission this morning, Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station was forced to power down Saturday (10/19) afternoon due to high reactor water level which shut down a main turbine.

“The cause of the increase in reactor water levels is currently under investigation,” the report said. The plant had been in start-up mode after a forced shutdown related to problems with NSTAR’s power lines, which deliver power both in and out of the plant.

Entergy officials wrote that this latest event has no impact on public health and safety. Since mid-August, the 41-year-old plant has been plagued by problems forcing shutdowns or lower than peak levels of output due to a number of mechanical glitches.

Posted on    October 20, 2013      Frank Mand, OCM    Source

PLYMOUTH — Critics of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station had their chance to critique the plan to install dry cask storage units at the Rocky Hill Road nuclear power plant Tuesday, but they spent much of their time trying to convince the Board of Selectmen it can and should act on its own.

Last week Pilgrim management delivered a presentation that outlined its plans to build a concrete pad and install several dozen casks adjacent to the reactor building at the plant, while defending the company’s intention to transfer only as many spent fuel rods from the pool as needed to be able to continue operations.

The existing spent fuel pool at the plant has more than 3,200 rods, and if the plant had no other storage option, it would run out of sufficient storage space in less than two years.

This week the selectmen offered the plant’s critics an opportunity to formally address the issue.Keep reading

Posted on    October 16, 2013      Frank Mand    Source

PLYMOUTH — Depending on your perspective, Monday’s shut down of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station was either another example of the plant’s “defense in depth” safety or additional evidence of its vulnerability.

The press release from Pilgrim arrived just after 10 a.m. Tuesday morning, Oct. 15, and referenced a successful scram (sudden shutdown) of the reactor at 9:21 p.m. the previous evening. According to Pilgrim spokesman Carol Wightman, “Pilgrim Station automatically shut down due to the loss of one of the two 345-kV lines that provides offsite power to the plant.” Keep reading…

Posted on    October 15, 2013      Lane Lambert    Source

PLYMOUTH — A Monday night loss of outside power has forced the Pilgrim nuclear plant offline for the fourth time this year.

Carol Wightman, a spokeswoman for Pilgrim’s owner Entergy, said Tuesday morning that the plan automatically shut down at 9:21 p.m. Monday, when an NStar power line into the plant went out of service.

Wightman said Pilgrim gets its outside power from two 345-kilovolt lines. NStar had already taken one of the lines out of service for maintenance when the second line failed.

Wightman said the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission was informed as soon as the shutdown occurred.

She said the shutdown had no effect on the health or safety to the public or Pilgrim workers. She said the 685-megawatt plant will return to production when NStar completes repair and restoration of the two power lines.

Wightman said emergency generators began operating as soon as the NStar line went out of service, and that the generators are safely powering the plant.

Meanwhile, she said Pilgrim crews are doing maintenance that can’t be performed while the plant is in production.

Pilgrim has now been offline for 73 of 288 days thus far this year, though 46 of those days were for planned maintenance and refueling.

The plant was offline three times earlier this year from pump-related problems. The plant was down for a week in January, and again in late August and early September.

110 Pilgrim violations, 2000-2012

The Pilgrim nuclear power plant in Plymouth experienced 108 lower-level and two higher-level safety violations from 2000 through 2012. The violations were included in a congressional study expected to be released this month showing that safety violations at nuclear plants across the country varies dramatically from region to region. The Government Accountability Office report obtained by The Associated Press suggests inconsistent enforcement of regulations could be responsible.

A Pilgrim spokeswoman said they’re committed to addressing even minor issues and that enhancing safety is their top concern.

Twenty-six Northeast reactors reported more than 2,500 violations, about 97 per reactor, during the 13-year period. Lower-level violations pose very low risk. Higher-level violations range from low to high safety significance, such as an improperly maintained electrical system that caused a fire affecting a plant’s ability to shut down safely.

Shutdowns at Pilgrim in 2013

Jan. 10: Trip of both recirculation pumps. Returned to full power on Jan. 17.
Jan. 20: Leak in a safety-relief valve. Returned to full power on Jan. 24.
Feb. 8: Offsite power loss and main generator load reject. Returned to full power on Feb. 16.
April 18: Refueling. Returned to full power on June 3.
Aug. 22: Electrical problems with water pumps. The plant restarted on Aug. 26, but was shut down by a steam leak on Sept. 8 before reaching full power. Returned to full power on Sept. 21.
Oct. 14: Loss of offsite power.

Source: Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Posted on    October 12, 2013  

The Boston Globe: Ex-leader of Japan warns against nuclear power

IEEE Spectrum: Former NRC Chairman says Nuclear Industry is “Going Away”

Huffington Post: After Fukushima Disaster, Advocates Argue Only Safe Nuclear Power Is None At All

Patriot Ledger: State senator calls for Pilgrim nuclear plant to be shut down

Cape Cod Online: Panelists outline problems with U.S. nuclear plant safety

Patriot Ledger: Panelists say Pilgrim nuclear plant should be closed

South Coast Today: Nuclear Experts: Retire reactors

Counter Punch: Toward a Clean Energy Future: The Nuclear Forum

WBAI Pacifica Radio: New York Lessons from Fukushima

YouTube: Former PM Naoto Kan of Japan Speaks Out on Fukushima

Huffington Post: Nuclear Power Through the Fukushima Perspective

Business Week: Indian Point Nuclear Plant Should Be Shut, Ex-Regulator Says

Huffington Post: Former NRC Chair: Emergency Plans Won’t Protect Residents from Radiation