The troubled Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth, Massachusetts, is scheduled to go off-line in 2019, but the inspection teams on-site seem to be questioning “safety at the plant” right now.
In an internal email obtained by the advocacy group Cape Downwinders, the plant's inspection team recently wrote that among the issues the station is facing is missing paperwork, leaky dry wall, and mechanical issues.
“Equipment isn’t being repaired, people don’t know what they’re doing,” said Diane Turco, of Cape Downwinders.
A safety inspector wrote in the internal email, “the plant seems overwhelmed by just trying to run the station.”
The inspector then tries to soften the blow by saying “I am couching this by questioning their overall engineering acumen.”
Another comment says: “We are observing current indications of a safety culture problem that a bunch of talking probably won’t fix.”
Turco says these are just some of the low lights that she finds concerning.
“That’s serious, we’re not talking about a candy factory we’re talking about an aging and degrading nuclear reactor that's on Cape Cod by 35 miles from Boston,” Turco said.
Turco is the one who accidentally received the email this week from an inspector with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which is helping to oversea the shutdown of the aging power station. Turco and the Cape Downwinders personally delivered a copy of the email to Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker’s office. The group wants the power station shut down immediately.
“If we need to pull a congressional delegation to get federal government to do what they need to do, we will,” Baker said.
The NRC said in a statement the inspection is preliminary:
“To what extent, if any, these observations factor into our final determinations on improving the plant’s performance would be difficult if not impossible to predict at this point. Lousiana-based Entergy is the owner of Pilgrim and is not commenting on the ongoing inspection.”
Because of the technical jargon in the email, Ken Tavares with the Plymouth Board of Selectmen says it remains unclear if this is an immediate threat to his community.
“I want ironclad word from the NRC, that this plant is safe to operate,” Tavares said.
The town selectmen planned to hold an emergency meeting Wednesday evening to talk about their next steps.