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Pilgrim nuclear station won't dump radioactive water without state consent, Holtec CEO says

Jennette Barnes
Holtec CEO Kris Singh testifies on video in front of a packed house at the 1820 Court House at Plymouth Town Hall. U.S. Sen. Ed Markey chaired a Senate hearing in the Court House on Friday on nuclear decommissioning.

The CEO of the company that owns the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station pledged today not to release radioactive water into Cape Cod Bay unless major stakeholders approve.

Kris Singh, CEO and founder of Holtec, made the statement at a Senate hearing in Plymouth chaired by U.S. Sen. Ed Markey.

“I said we will not dump contaminated water anywhere,” he said. “I also said that the water is not contaminated by its definition, but we will not discharge any water in the Cape Cod Bay unless we have major stakeholder concurrence.”

Those stakeholders include the state, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Markey, he said.

But Singh warned that if Pilgrim doesn’t discharge the water, demolition of the plant could be delayed.

“The downside is that the facilities would not be dismantled as soon as we could,” he said. “If that's okay, we will leave it stand. After all, we have 60 years to finish.”

In an interview later, local activist Mary Lampert called that a veiled threat.

At Markey’s request, Singh agreed to allow Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution to test the water before any release.

Where funding would come from for those tests isn’t clear.

After the hearing, Markey suggested money for testing should come from the publicly funded decommissioning trust fund now held by Holtec.

Congressman Bill Keating also participated in the hearing. He and Markey criticized the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, saying the agency is going too easy on Holtec and failing to provide enough oversight of U.S. nuclear plants.

In addition to Singh, they heard testimony from John Lubinski, director of the NRC’s Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards Office; Geoff Fettus, an attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council; and state Sen. Susan Moran.