The Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel met on Thursday to vote on new recommendations they will send to the state regarding the decommissioning of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant. The plant has been plagued by outages in the last year and is scheduled to be shut down next May.
The meeting marked the first time that the commission has met since the legislature has allotted funding to create an interagency group to oversee the plant's shutdown, and the panel voted on a number of recommendations they will pass along to the new organization. Panel chair Sean Mullin said the steps the advisory panel and the state have taken to create the regulations show remarkable collaboration.
"It’s really a milestone and a model for the nation, what the governor has done along with the legislative delegation of the panel has set a new standard for not only the Commonwealth but for the sixty plus nuclear plants around the country that will be decommissioned," he said.
The recommendations are a culmination of a year's worth of meetings, working groups and safety reports. Recommendations included items such as mandating a collaboration between the state and power plant officials and Entergy to make sure there's a multi-year shut down plan in place, and continuing to have representation from local community groups.
Former state senator for the Cape and Islands Dan Wolf said the recommendations and the creation of an interagency group to oversee the powering down is critical. "It’s a really complicated issue, it crosses environment, it crosses economics, it crosses public safety, there are a lot of moving parts with this," Wolf said. "It’s a really complex task, so the fact that it’s an interagency group allows us to be more holistic in the whole approach."
This is the state's only nuclear power plant, though there are two other nuclear power plants that could affect the state - the Seabrook power plant in New Hampshire which is still operating, and the recently shuttered Vermont Yankee power station. Massachusetts hopes that the creation of this interagency group can set a standard for other nuclear power plant closures in the future. The Pilgrim power plant is scheduled to close in May of 2019 and it continues to suffer from malfunctions. In 2018 alone, it has spent 55 days offline for various machinery repairs.