The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) brought a team of inspectors to the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant Monday in response to a list of concerns. The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) sent an observer to monitor the inspection and state officials say they are keeping a cautious watch over the process.
The team of 20 NRC inspectors combed through various areas of the aging power plant and is expected to take three weeks to complete its investigation. MEMA director, Kurt Schwatz, says this was not the usual annual inspection.
“Our understanding from the NRC is that this was an inspection that was called for outside the ordinary in response to a series of issues and concerns," he says.
Schwatz opted not to list those concerns, citing jurisdictional priorities.
“That’s not for me to respond to. That is the job of the NRC. What my interest is, is insuring that the plant operates up to all standards, to maintain completely safe operations until the day it closes.”
That day will be in 2019. MEMA’s John Giarrusso, who is responsible for nuclear preparedness, has only been invited to observe the NRC’s inspection; but if something is not quite right, the agency says it will be among the first to know.
The Plymouth facility supplies electricity to approximately 500,000 homes each day, but it has stoked controversy with demonstrations, vigils, and lawsuits since it began operation in 1972. A member of the advocacy group Pilgrim Watch tells WGBH News that the plant’s closure can’t come soon enough.