Town seeks nuclear role

Selectmen have voted to ask the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission to make the town an official participant in any future hearings on two issues under review in the license renewal process for Pilgrim nuclear power plant. The issues are the reliability of the plant’s hardened contaminant vent and the safety of its spent nuclear-fuel storage system. Selectmen agreed with arguments presented recently by the town’s Nuclear Advisory Committee that the rules devised by federal regulators to guarantee the safety of these components are “insufficient to protect the health, safety and property of our community.” Nuclear critics have argued that last year’s nuclear accident in Japan has shown that similar US nuclear plants require stronger safety guarantees. The committee also said the NRC needs to do more to protect spent fuel from an accidental fire or terrorist attack than simply to require instruments to monitor the water level of the pool in which the radioactive fuel is kept.