NRC releases official statement: Entergy's Pilgrim plant (Cape Cod Times)
Despite debates and demonstrations, Entergy is given a green light

The United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) made it official yesterday in a release: the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant in Plymouth has another 20 years. The decision to renew the owner of the plant, Entergy's, license came after what the NRC referred to as "thorough safety and environmental reviews of the application submitted by the plant's operator."

The renewed license will now expire on June 8, 2032. Entergy applied to renew its operating license on January 27, 2006.

Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant on the shores of Cape Cod Bay a few miles north of the Cape Cod Canal. Photo courtesy of Entergy from NRC.gov.

According to NRC motions to reopen the adjudicatory hearing contesting the license renewal application are pending before the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board and the Commission. It is NRC policy that a decision to renew a license before a hearing's completion requires approval of the Commission, which was granted on May 25 in a Staff Requirements Memorandum.

Without license renewal, Entergy may still operate under its current license past the June 8, 2012 deadline. During the adjudication period, Entergy must implement "age-management" policies and other safety programs prior to the new license taking effect. Since the renewal application was receive, NRC has held several public meetings about the plant. The Commission issued a Safety Evaluation Report in June 2007 along with several supplements.

According to the NRC release, "After reviewing the plant's safety systems and specifications, the staff concluded that there were no safety concerns that would preclude license renewal and that the applicant had effectively demonstrated the capability to manage the effects of plant aging.

Pilgrim is the seventy-third reactor license renewed by NRC. Pilgrim, which came online in 1972, is a 680-megawatt boiling water reactor, identical in design to Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

The renewal process sparked a bitter debate among Entergy, the NRC and several area anti-nuclear groups. Several Cape politicians including Senator Dan Wolf has spoken out against the renewal.

All documentation relating to the plant's license renewal is available on the NRC site here.