AG Healy’s office alleges NRC cold shoulder in Holtec discussions

Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant is continuing its decommissioning process. — Courtesy Entergy

Updated Friday, August 23, 3 pm

Attorney General Maura Healy’s office recently told the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), “The commonwealth has serious concerns about Holtec’s financial and technical capacity to complete the work at Pilgrim.”

Holtec International is on deck to take over the license for Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station from Entergy Corp., and then begin the process of decommissioning the plant. A $1 billion trust fund has accrued for the decommissioning of the plant. Holtec would have access to that money to fund the decommissioning, which in many respects is a nuclear cleanup. 

In an August 21 letter to the Office of the General Counsel of the NRC, Massachusetts Senior Appellate Counsel Seth Schofield and Assistant Attorney General Joseph Dorfler requested the NRC “withhold issuance of the license transfer” until NRC staff addresses issues Massachusetts has raised, and until the commonwealth has the opportunity to contest the transfer “in a full hearing before the Commission.”

Schofield and Dorfler wrote that “procedural irregularities and disparate treatment of the commonwealth during the consultation process” are among the reason it wants the brakes applied.

As an example of how Massachusetts alleges it has been treated, Schofield and Dorfler wrote that NRC staff reached out for a meeting with state officials about the license transfer and exemptions Holtec wanted. The meeting was set for 1:30 pm on August 13. About 20 minutes before the meeting, state officials learned NRC staff had already sent notice they intended to approve the license transfer and exceptions that go with it. 

Massachusetts also alleges the NCR may have pulled a duplicitous move. 

“Even though the NRC staff had not yet consulted with the commonwealth on that intended action,” the state’s attorneys wrote, “the Notification also indicated wrongly that NRC staff had already notified the commonwealth of the proposed actions. During the ‘consultation’ call that followed the Notification’s filing in the docket, the NRC staff initially declined even to describe the contents of the just filed public Notification, and refused to provide any details regarding what the anticipated approval Order would say, or the findings underlying it in the anticipated [safety evaluation report].”

NRC spokeswoman Diane Screnci did not immediately reply to an email from The Times seeking comment on the letter from Healy’s office. 

This is a developing story. Story was updated to include the NRC transfer to Holtec of the Pilgrim Plant.