Senator Markey Secures Environmental, Financial Protections for Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant at Congressional Hearing on Nuclear Plant Decommissioning

WATCH: Senator Markey hosts field hearing in Plymouth, Mass. to discuss nuclear safety and security issues and state, local, and community stakeholder engagement


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Boston (May 6, 2022) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Chair of the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Subcommittee on Clean Air, Climate, and Nuclear Safety, today hosted a subcommittee field hearing in Plymouth, Massachusetts with Congressman William R. Keating (MA-09), titled Issues Facing Communities with Decommissioning Nuclear Plants. During the hearing, Senator Markey secured commitments from Holtec, the company charged with decommissioning the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant, that it would not discharge any radioactive, contaminated water into Cape Cod Bay from the plant without the consent of stakeholders. He also secured a commitment from Holtec that it would work with an independent body with marine experience to test the water, that it would provide a financial backstop to ensure full decommission and clean-up of the plant site, and it would meet with union representatives from the Laborers, Ironworkers, Carpenters, IBEW, and Operating Engineers regarding an ongoing labor dispute.

“We will hold Holtec accountable for these commitments to the communities that surround Pilgrim, and we will work to ensure the NRC upholds its responsibility to be a watchdog on the decommissioning process.” said Senator Marky. “Over the years, communities with decommissioning nuclear power plants have repeatedly called on the Commission to be a good partner and for nuclear companies to be good neighbors. Today’s hearing is a notice to both that we will not allow these responsibilities to go unmet any longer.”

“Today’s hearing cemented what we already knew: that the NRC has given too much leeway to licensees. The government is entrusted with the regulation of nuclear energy as well as the environmental impacts that energy has on our communities. It’s clear, however, that the community has been left out of this process; yet they are the ones that will feel the impacts for generations from this plant being here and the ones who are paying for decommissioning. The NRC confirmed today that trucking away the waste is a viable alternative to dumping water in Cape Cod Bay. Frankly, it is not an alternative, but the only proper course of action,” said Congressman Keating.

Testifying at the hearing were:

  • John W. Lubinski, Director of Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards at Nuclear Regulatory Commission,
  • State Senator Susan L. Moran (Plymouth and Barnstable District),
  • Seth Schofield, Senior Appellate Counsel at the Office of the Attorney General of Massachusetts,
  • Geoffrey Fettus, Senior Attorney for Nuclear, Climate, and Clean Energy Program at the Natural Resources Defense Counciland
  • Kris Singh, Ph.D., President & CEO, Holtec International.

A copy of witness testimonies can be found HERE.

Senator Markey and Congressman Keating have worked together to ensure that the NRC and Holtec prioritize safety and public participation throughout Pilgrim’s decommissioning process. This past January, along with Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Congressman Seth Moulton (MA-06), the lawmakers wrote to Holtec Decommissioning International expressing opposition to the proposed discharge of radioactive water from Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station into Cape Cod Bay .

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