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Nuclear commission says Pilgrim is operating safely

Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station.Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff/Globe Staff

An inspection of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission found that the Plymouth plant “continues to operate safely” and that no additional regulatory action is required.

“The inspection did not find any longstanding, risk-significant issues in the corrective action program that were not addressed or assigned appropriate corrective actions,” said Neil Sheehan, a spokesman for the commission.

But the inspection, conducted in January as part of the agency’s increased oversight of the plant, did not change Pilgrim’s status as one of the nation’s least-safe nuclear reactors. It remains one of only three reactors in the country in so-called column 4 status, one category above being required to shut down immediately.


The inspection, the first of three required by the NRC, did find one violation, which it described as of “very low safety significance.”

The violation involved the plant’s failure to adequately correct a leak from a cooling system that sprays water into the reactor after a sudden shutdown on Jan. 27, 2015.

“While the system remained operable during this shutdown, larger air pockets could have developed with more significant water leakage, and that condition could have impacted the system’s ability to inject water into the reactor core during an emergency or sudden shutdown,” Sheehan said. “This issue is currently receiving attention via the plant’s corrective action program.”

After being cited for safety violations, Pilgrim announced last fall that it would close no later than June 2019.

Pilgrim, which has supplied power to more than a half-million homes and businesses for four decades, is owned by Entergy Corp., a Louisiana-based energy conglomerate.

The NRC’s next report is due in April.

David Abel can be reached at dabel@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @davabel.