Plymouth: Nuclear panel meets to hear watchdog group’s safety concerns

A panel of judges from an independent judicial arm of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission will meet in Plymouth Wednesday as part of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant’s license renewal request.

The hearing will give the judges the chance to hear closing arguments on a contention by a local watchdog group that the parent company, Entergy, has not taken proper measures to reduce the impact of any possible accident that could happen at the plant.

The citizens’ non-profit group Pilgrim Watch has asked the panel to rule on the company’s “Severe Accident Mitigation Alternatives” through an expedited process at the hearing; the judges will rule based solely on pre-submitted evidence and not oral testimony. The panel will also allow the parties to give brief closing arguments limited to 10 minutes each.

Spokesman for the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission Neil Sheehan said the parties involved in the process include Pilgrim Watch, Entergy and the NRC.

The hearing will also give the three-judge panel the chance to hear preliminary discussions on three new contentions submitted by Pilgrim Watch.

According to the NRC, one is also related to severe accident mitigation.

“The group argues that Entergy’s SAMA’s (Severe Accident Mitigation Alternatives), analysis must be revised to account for issues associated with clean-up responsibility and funding in the event of a severe accident,” a release reads.

Sheehan said the other two relate to the aging management of submerged cables.

“Two other contentions have to do with the issue of submerged electrical cables at the site, and whether or not Entergy has a good program in place to manage the effects of any water submergence that might come in contact with these electrical cables,” said Sheehan.

The 38-year-old plant’s license expires in 2012 and is up for a 20-year renewal.

Wednesday’s hearing begins at 9 a.m. at the John Carver Inn, 25 Summer Street in Plymouth.

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