Attorney General Martha Coakley’s bid to suspend the relicensing of the Pilgrim nuclear power plant has been rejected by the panel that’s reviewing the Plymouth reactor’s license.
Coakley in May filed a request urging federal regulators to suspend the relicensing of Pilgrim until the implications of the Fukushima Dai-ichi disaster in Japan can be fully studied. Coakley was particularly concerned with the impact that a meltdown could have on the pool that contains spent nuclear fuel.
But the three-judge panel overseeing Pilgrim’s relicensing review on behalf of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission denied Coakley’s request on Monday. The panel also rejected Coakley’s request to waive, for the Pilgrim review, an NRC rule against weighing spent fuel pool issues in relicensing reviews.
One of the panel members – Ann Marshall Young – showed sympathy for Coakley’s request in a separate opinion: She wrote that there’s some likelihood that the lessons from the Fukushima disaster will need to be taken into consideration in the Pilgrim relicensing, once more information becomes available.
“Without Judge Young, people would rightly have very little respect for the process followed by the NRC in these licensing decisions,” said Mary Lampert, founder of the Pilgrim Watch citizens group and a longtime critic of the plant. “There needs to be more Judge Youngs. … To deny that the Fukushima accident, particularly in a reactor (similar to) Pilgrim, provides no significant new information is ludicrous.”