Metro

Is the Pilgrim nuke plant safe? Baker ‘would presume’ so

Plymouth, MA - 10/13/2015 - The Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant as seen from the sea in Plymouth, MA, October 13, 2015. (Keith Bedford/Globe Staff)
Globe staff file
The aging Pilgrim nuclear power plant in Plymouth had to be shut down twice in recent weeks.

Governor Charlie Baker was surprisingly coy Monday about whether Massachusetts’ only nuclear power generation plant is safe. What follows is a transcript of Baker speaking to reporters at the Massachusetts State House about the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth.

Andy Metzger, State House News Service: “Governor, three people were arrested in your office on Friday. Three adults, including at least one grandmother. Cape Downwinders, who are concerned about the Pilgrim nuclear power plant. Have you refused to meet with them? And what do you make of their demands that you become more outspoken, calling for the plant to actually be closed early?”

Governor Charlie Baker: “You talking about Pilgrim?”

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Metzger: “Yeah.”

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Baker: “Okay. Well, I think everybody knows, at this point, that Pilgrim is engaged in what I would describe as an orderly shutdown. And that orderly shutdown is going to be managed primarily by the federal government who has the appropriate oversight for what happens to Pilgrim. But will be done in conjunction with folks here in the Commonwealth of Mass. The last thing anybody should ever do is disorderly shut down a nuclear power plant. And I think the process that is in place is one that everybody, for the most part, is in agreement on and we’re going to do everything we can to make sure that it’s done soundly and safely — for the people of Massachusetts and the people of the Cape and the people of the South Shore. But we’re going to do that working within a framework that’s established and managed directly by the federal government, as it should be.”

Matt Murphy, State House News Service: “Governor, that plant has had a number of emergency shutdowns in recent weeks though. Are you still confident in the safety of that plant?”

Baker: “We have constant dialogue and conversations with the federal government about this as the primary overseer of the facility. And we continue to believe that the decision to shut it down, which was made by the operators there for a whole bunch of reasons, is one that we need to pay a lot of attention to. But, fundamentally, it belongs to the feds.”

Joshua Miller, Boston Globe: “Governor, I’m not sure I heard an answer to Matt’s question. Do you believe that Pilgrim nuclear plant is safe for the hundreds of thousands of your constituents who live around it?”

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Baker: “I believe that it is regulated by a federal government that takes the process of shutting down a plant very seriously and we’re in constant contact with them. And, therefore, I would presume, yes, that that’s a safe facility, which is part of the reason they do shut it down once in a while.”

Joshua Miller can be reached at joshua.miller@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jm_bos and subscribe to his weekday e-mail update on politics at bostonglobe.com/politicalhappyhour