NRC License of Nuclear Plant Challenged by Massachusetts

Massachusetts, in an appeal of a Nuclear Regulatory Commission decision to relicense Entergy Corp. (ETR)’s Pilgrim nuclear power station, asked to have the extension for the facility 40 miles south of Boston canceled pending further review.

The state seeks to require the commission to take steps to ensure the safety of the plant and the residents of the surrounding communities, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley said yesterday in a statement.

“The NRC, over our objections, chose to relicense Pilgrim without fully considering the important safety issues raised in the aftermath of the Fukushima accident,” she said, referring to the nuclear disaster last year in Japan.

Separately yesterday, 22 groups and two individuals said they petitioned the NRC to suspend final licensing decisions for almost three dozen nuclear reactors, after an appeals court ruled that the agency failed to fully evaluate risks associated with its regulations on the storage of spent nuclear fuel and must draft new ones. The NRC shouldn’t complete its licensing decisions until satisfying its environmental review obligations, they said in a statement.

20-Year Extension

The NRC in May granted a 20-year license extension to the Pilgrim plant, located in Plymouth. In its filing with the U.S. Court of Appeals in Boston, the state seeks to vacate the license renewal and require the commission to prepare an environmental impact statement. The state said it wanted the NRC before granting the renewal to reevaluate the environmental impacts and risks of operating the plant in the wake of Fukushima.

The state’s filing couldn’t be confirmed in court records. A copy was provided by the state.

Michael Burns, a spokesman for New Orleans-based Entergy, said in an e-mailed statement that the NRC conducted “extremely thorough” safety and environmental reviews.

“The commission’s approval means the NRC concluded there were no safety or environmental issues that preclude renewal of the plant’s license to operate for an additional 20 years,” he said.

Scott Burnell, an NRC spokesman, said the agency will consider the petition “under its usual process.” He declined to comment on the appeal by Massachusetts.

The case is Commonwealth of Massachusetts v. U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit (Boston).

To contact the reporter on this story: David McLaughlin in New York at dmclaughlin9@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Pickering at jpickering@bloomberg.net

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