The Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station on Cape Cod Bay is directly in the path of the potentially historic winter storm due to hit Plymouth, Mass. starting tonight. There is a coastal flood warning, coastal flood watch, blizzard warning, and hazardous weather outlook in effect for Plymouth, according to NOAA.
Over the past two years, concerned residents have raised significant questions about Pilgrim’s vulnerable location on the shoreline. In addition, in the past few weeks Entergy, Pilgrim’s owner, has been moving lethal nuclear waste from the wet pool inside the reactor to dry casks. This is a process that experts say is more dangerous than the day-to-day operations of Pilgrim itself. Local residents are asking the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to order Entergy to take the reactor offline during the storm to prevent an unacceptable risk to the public and the environment.
The storm poses a risk to the spent fuel transfer operations and to Pilgrim’s ability to keep the lethal nuclear waste from starting a fire and explosion and the reactor core from melting down. Pilgrim needs offsite electricity, from the electric grid that comes in over transmission lines to run pumps that circulate water that keep the nuclear waste and reactor core cool. It relies on backup generators in the event of the loss of offsite power, which are at risk of flooding.
“The potential impacts of this storm on Pilgrim’s already unsafe operations shows that this aging reactor is an unacceptable danger in our community. The Pilgrim reactor is currently running at 100% power, spent nuclear fuel is being transferred into dry casks and a massive storm is about to hit and Entergy is doing business as usual” stated Arlene Williamson from Pilgrim Coalition.
According to Pine DuBois, Executive Director of Jones River Watershed Association, “Hurricane gusts will be out of the east, hitting Pilgrim head-on. At other times during high winds Pilgrim’s water intake pumps have failed, pile on that a couple feet of snow and we could have a serious problem.” Pine also noted, “The winds will bring a 2.5-3+ surge with heavy waves and surf. The 4:30AM high tide is a good time to get outside and record the impact of the storm. NRC is set to approve Pilgrim’s emergency plans that include sending employees into the surf with fire hoses. This is a great time to evaluate that plan.”
William Maurer from Cape Downwinders explains, “We have seen a magnitude of powerful storms in recent years that have resulted in increased coastal danger and destruction. Pilgrim sits on the edge of Cape Cod Bay and on the edge of a catastrophe.”
Here is a PDF file of the press release: Winter Storm Juno Press Release