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Pilgrim Nuclear misspent 84k in decommissioning funds, feds say

Protesters headed into a meeting on March 27, 2023.
Jennette Barnes
Protesters gathered before a meeting regarding the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station on March 27, 2023.

The company decommissioning the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station has misused money intended for dismantling the energy plant and making the property safe for reuse, according to a federal inspection report.

A subsidiary of Pilgrim owner Holtec International improperly spent $84,000 from the ratepayer-funded trust. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued a violation notice Feb. 29 to the wholly owned subsidiary, Holtec Decommissioning International.

NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan said in an email to CAI that Holtec used the money for community outreach, including a Chamber of Commerce sponsorship, Thanksgiving celebrations, and Fourth of July parades. The problem happened over a two-year period ending in September of 2022.

Holtec characterized the issue as an error.

Prior to the violation period, the company used corporate overhead to pay for community sponsorships, spokesman Patrick O’Brien said. But after that, it was mistakenly charged to the decommissioning trust fund, he said.

According to O’Brien, the company has already paid the money back, with interest. Holtec will ensure the error doesn’t happen again, he said.

Sheehan said part of the reason the Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued a violation notice was to require the company to provide a corrective action plan, “due to [the] complexity of the actions needed to correct the issue, which in turn will require a comprehensive review by multiple parts of the NRC.”

Henrietta Cosentino, a citizen member of the state nuclear panel, represents the town of Plymouth. She said sponsoring parades and other events is nice, but not if it takes away from cleaning up Pilgrim.

“We need a clean site,” she said. “We need a safe site. And all the Thanksgiving parades in the world don't do that.”

Jennette Barnes is a reporter and producer. Named a Master Reporter by the New England Society of News Editors, she brings more than 20 years of news experience to CAI.