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Remaining Nuclear Fuel Moving to Dry Storage at Pilgrim

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Holtec Decommissioning International
An artist's rendering of a spent nuclear fuel assembly stored in a steel canister inside a concrete cask.

The last of the spent fuel assemblies in a cooling tank at the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station will be transferred to dry storage over the course of this year.

Holtec, the company decommissioning the plant, plans to begin loading the used nuclear fuel into steel canisters in June. The canisters will be placed in steel-reinforced concrete drums, known as casks. Each weighs 150 tons.

Some local residents say the cask walls are too thin and inadequate to safely contain the highly radioactive material.

But Patrick O’Brien, who represents Holtec on a state advisory panel monitoring the decommissioning, says they’re the industry standard.

At a meeting of the panel Monday, he said Holtec has used more than 1,500 of those casks around the world.

“This is proven technology that we have here,” he said. “I've said in the past: I live in town; I stand next to these casks. I'm not worried about the safety of these casks.”

Thirty-four more casks are scheduled to be moved to a dry storage pad at the Plymouth plant, for a total of 61 by January of next year.

They will remain there indefinitely.