Mass. DPH calls for more funds to monitor Plymouth nuclear site
PLYMOUTH, Mass. (State House Press Service) – The state will have to cut some of its oversight work at a closed nuclear power plant in Plymouth unless lawmakers require the owners of the facility to cover additional costs over the next few years, a senior said Monday. Baker administration official as public concern grows over a potential radioactive water spill in Cape Cod Bay.
Public Health Department Commissioner Margret Cooke has urged lawmakers to require Holtec Decommissioning International to provide additional funds to fully fund radiation monitoring and emergency planning activities at the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant , which ceased operations in 2019.
During a hearing on Governor Charlie Baker’s $48.5 billion budget bill for fiscal year 2023, Cooke pointed to an outside section placing additional demands on Holtec to help cover those costs.
“This will ensure that residents and communities in the area are safe from accidental radiation releases that could be adversely affected by excavations or other activities during the decommissioning process,” Cooke said.
The state is required to conduct regular monitoring and testing at the site throughout the decommissioning process, which Holtec expects to be able to complete by the end of 2027. However, Cooke said the amount that the company has to pay to support these activities decreases as the company hits major milestones along the way, which could leave DPH facing a funding shortfall of between $160,000 and $450,000 per year through 2027.
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Cooke pointed out that the department currently has enough money to continue monitoring the air, water and soil around the inactive nuclear facility, but the outlook will become more strained unless lawmakers act.
“Without this ability to recoup additional costs, DPH will likely have to significantly reduce air monitoring and environmental sampling throughout the decommissioning process,” Cooke told the Joint Ways and Means Committee. “DPH may also have to close or significantly reduce the operation of the statewide environmental monitoring laboratory.”
Holtec recently finalized a treatment and disposal plan for millions of gallons of radioactive water in the system, an issue that has caught the attention of lawmakers concerned about the discharge into Cape Cod Bay. Lawmakers wrote to the Judiciary Committee last month supporting legislation (H 4444) that would define such a move as a release under the Oil and Hazardous Materials Release Prevention and Response Act and strengthen rights action by States and individuals in response to any harm. caused.
A coalition of activists including representatives from the Massachusetts Seafood Collaborative and the League of Women Voters Plymouth Area are planning a protest march on Saturday to voice opposition to the potential dump plan.
Written by Chris Lisinski/SHNS.