The citizens’ panel overseeing the decommissioning of Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station met Monday for the first time since the state reached a settlement with Holtec, the company that owns Pilgrim.
Seth Schofield, a lawyer in Attorney General Maura Healey’s office, gave an overview of the settlement. He said it’s a good deal, in part because it provides financial assurances that Holtec will decommission and clean the site properly.
“It secures much more than we could have achieved, even if we had won all of our cases before the [Nuclear Regulatory Commission] and the D.C. Circuit, and establishes a clear framework for decommissioning and restoring the site,” he said.
The agreement resolves a petition before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and two lawsuits, all filed by the state. It obligates Holtec to maintain minimum balances to pay for the decommissioning and cleanup.
Despite the settlement, concerned residents who participated in the video meeting of the Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens’ Advisory Panel questioned whether the subsidiaries of Holtec responsible for the work could run out of money, since they are separate from the parent company.
Others called for better security at Pilgrim, which will continue to store spent nuclear fuel rods.
Henrietta Cosentino of the Plymouth League of Women Voters said the landscaping designed to act as screening is no substitute for more security.
“I don’t think we can drop it there, because trees do not do it,” she said. “Trees would [in] no way protect us from bad actors.”
Some residents have asked for a berm or a hard barrier to secure the rods. Those items are not in the agreement.
Schofield said constraints of the site itself do not allow for a berm.
Also Monday, the Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens’ Advisory Panel elected new leaders. The group unanimously chose John Mahoney, who represents Plymouth, as the new chair. The vice chair will be Pine DuBois, an appointee of the speaker of the House.
Outgoing chair Sean Mullin expressed his appreciation for the panel’s work over what he called an “interesting and intense” three years.
“We haven’t always agreed on everything,” he said. “There’s been a few very pointed and spirited discussions, but that’s good.”
He said the panel has always acted with civility and respect.
“And I think that’s a very good thing, and I hope it moves forward at that,” he said.