Pilgrim off grid again for pipe leak
PLYMOUTH – A series of mechanical difficulties at the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station has kept the plant from operating at peak for more than two weeks. Currently Pilgrim is completely off the electric grid, shut down Sunday evening because of a steam leak in a pipe supplying hot water to the nuclear reactor.
Spokesmen for both the plant and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission stressed the problem did not pose a safety risk for the public, but Pilgrim opponents say such ongoing mechanical problems show the time has come to shutter the 41-year-old plant.
Diane Turco, a Harwich resident and founder of the Cape Downwinders, said recent events at Pilgrim make it the perfect time to deliver to the Statehouse a citizens advisory calling for Pilgrim’s closure. The advisory was penned by the Downwinders and approved by town meeting or ballot votes in 14 Cape towns last spring.
“It calls on Gov. Patrick to request the NRC uphold their mandate and close the Pilgrim nuclear plant because the public safety cannot be assured,” Turco said. “We’re supposed to be given a time and date to meet with the governor on Wednesday.”
Both Gov. Deval Patrick and Attorney General Martha Coakley opposed the relicensing of the plant in June 2012. The NRC subsequently renewed the license for another 20 years. The governor’s office did not return a request for comment on an upcoming meeting with the Downwinders.
Dave Lochbaum, director of the Nuclear Safety Project for the Union of Concerned Scientists, tracks nuclear plant shutdowns in the U.S. Pilgrim has had “more than its share,” leading with seven shutdowns between January and June 30, Lochbaum said. “Overall there have been 94 shutdowns at U.S. nuclear power reactors in 2013 through June,” Lochbaum said. “With roughly 100 reactors, that’s an average of less than one shutdown per reactor. Pilgrim has had seven times that.”Keep reading