The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission said the company decommissioning Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station can alter its emergency plans now that the Plymouth plant has ceased operations.
“When compared to an operating power reactor, the risk of an offsite radiological release is significantly lower and the types of possible accidents are significantly fewer,” the NRC said Monday in a statement.
“As a result, there will not be a 10-mile emergency planning zone identified in Pilgrim’s license,” the NRC said.
Holtec International, a New Jersey company that specializes in storing and transporting nuclear waste, is decommissioning the plant. Holtec will have to notify state officials, but not the public, of any emergencies, the NRC said.
The plant has nearly 3,000 highly radioactive fuel rods cooling in its spent-fuel pools and more than 1,000 encased nearby in 17 massive steel-and-concrete drums known as dry casks. It will be years before the rods are cool enough to store in casks, which could remain on the property indefinitely.
On Monday, Massachusetts US Senator Edward J. Markey said the plant “should not get an exemption for key emergency preparedness and planning regulations while dangerous nuclear spent fuel is still cooling in open pools and threatening local residents.”
“The NRC’s decision is shocking but not surprising to all of us who have watched how the public’s concerns have been consistently ignored,” Markey said.