A team of 20 inspectors from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission Friday wrapped up a three-week review of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station, which has been cited for a raft of safety violations in recent years and is slated to close in 2019.
This week, the commission cited the Plymouth plant for nine safety violations that were considered to have “very low security significance.”
“The deficiencies were promptly corrected or compensated for, and the plant was in compliance with applicable physical protection and security requirements with the scope of this inspection before the inspectors left the site,” Raymond Lorson, director of the NRC’s division of reactor safety, wrote in a letter to plant officials.
The letter noted that Entergy Corp., which owns the plant, “did not effectively implement error reduction tools, maintain equipment availability, challenge unusual conditions, use prudent decision making, and maintain complete and accurate documentation.”
The plant also violated rules on storing radioactive materials, Lorson wrote.
Patrick O’Brien, spokesman for Pilgrim, said in a statement that the plant “takes all NRC inspection reports and findings seriously, because secure and safe operations are of the utmost importance at Pilgrim.”
“We continuously maintain effective security at the plant in accordance with strict NRC regulations,” he said.
In 2015, Entergy announced it would shutter the plant no later than June 2019. Maintenance at the 45-year-old facility has received increased scrutiny since the NRC downgraded Pilgrim’s safety ranking in September 2015, designating the plant as having one of the nation’s three least-safe reactors.
Plant officials and federal regulators insist that Pilgrim remains safe, even as company officials have said the plant was losing about $40 million a year and would have to pay tens of millions of additional dollars to comply with new inspections.
But antinuclear activists argue that the plant is unsafe and fear that Entergy is scrimping on safety to save money.
In a letter to the NRC this week, Mary Lampert, director of Pilgrim Watch, cited the violations as a reason for officials to close the plant immediately.
“How long will you allow Pilgrim, a failed plant with failed and ‘struggling’ management, to continue to operate,” she wrote. “Entergy has proved that it will not recognize its responsibilities to the public. It is important that you recognize yours, and order Pilgrim to be closed.”
NRC officials said that they will await a report from inspectors before deciding how to proceed. The report is due in 45 days.David Abel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @davabel.