Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station is the same flawed design as the Fukushima reactors. They are General Electric boiling water reactors with Mark I containments. It does not take a tsunami or an earthquake to cause a nuclear meltdown: all it takes is loss of power.
The NRC's Atomic Safety and Licensing Board Chair, Judge Young, has recommended to hold off on licensing until lessons learned from Fukushima have been implemented. Governor Patrick and Lt. Governor Murray should request that this happens on behalf of the residents of Massachusetts.
Pilgrim was designed to hold 800 spent fuel rods and it now has about 3,000 in it. If water is lost from its densely packed pool as a result of attack or accident, cooling would likely be insufficient to prevent a fire, resulting in the release of large quantities of radioactivity to the environment. The Attorney General estimated a pool fire at Pilgrim could result in $488 billion dollars in damages, 24,000 latent cancers and contamination 100 plus miles downwind. To reduce risk now when there is no place offsite to send the nuclear waste, we must require fuel assemblies to be transferred from currently overcrowded pools to dispersed, hardened dry cask storage within five years of being discharged from the reactor, with funding dedicated to state governments to independently monitor the onsite storage and regularly report the results to the public. Entergy, however, has no intention of returning the spent fuel pool to its safer low-density design, placing us at unnecessary and serious risk.
Japan’s nuclear safety chief recently testified that his country's nuclear regulations were fundamentally flawed and that the government was more interested in promoting nuclear energy than in safeguarding the health of its citizens. Let’s not let this be the case here.