November 29, 2011 / 4:32 PM / in 7 years

NRC denies Mass. effort to stop nuke relicensing

* Massachusetts can appeal to the NRC Commission
    * Pilgrim operating license to expire 2012
    * Entergy wants to run the plant for another 20 years
    Nov 29 (Reuters) - A three-judge panel at the U.S. Nuclear
Regulatory Commission (NRC) denied a filing by Massachusetts to
stop the relicensing of Entergy's 685-megawatt Pilgrim
nuclear power plant in Massachusetts.
    The NRC said Tuesday the state's contention was based on
the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan in
March.
    The NRC has long held that any lessons learned from the
Fukushima accident would be implemented at all reactors new or
existing regardless of whether they are seeking a license.
    The NRC uses the renewal process to determine whether a
reactor can safely operate for another 20 years without harming
the environment.
    In 2006, Entergy filed with the NRC to renew the 39-year
old reactor's original 40-year operating license for an
additional 20 years until 2032.
    The plant's operating license expires June 8, 2012 but can
continue to operate so long as the renewal proceeding is
ongoing.
    Massachusetts filed the Fukushima contention with the NRC's
Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB) panel handling the
Pilgrim renewal proceeding in June.
    The NRC said the state could appeal the ASLB ruling to the
five-member, presidentially appointed Commission that oversees
the NRC.
    The commission already has at least one other contention
appeal already before it.
    Pilgrim Watch, a group opposed to the reactor relicensing,
has appealed a contention related to the plant's Severe
Accident Mitigation Alternatives (SAMA).
    SAMA is a cost benefit analysis of what a plant operator
can do to mitigate a severe accident.
------------------------------------------------------------  
PLANT BACKGROUND/TIMELINE       
STATE:        Massachusetts       
COUNTY:       Plymouth       
TOWN:         Plymouth       
OPERATOR:     Entergy Nuclear       
OWNER(S):     Entergy Corp       
UNIT(S):      685 MW Nuclear
COST:         $462.25 million (2007 US dollars)
TIMELINE:       
1972 -        Pilgrim enters service
1999 -        Entergy buys Pilgrim from Boston Edison, now a
                 unit of Massachusetts power company NSTAR
2006 -        Entergy files with the NRC to renew the original
                 40-year operating license for an additional
                 20 years       
2011-12 -     Commission to decide on appeals of contentions
                 the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB)
                 decided in Entergy's favor related to the
                 plant's Severe Accident Mitigation
                 Alternatives (SAMA). radioactive liquids in
                 underground tanks and pipes
              Massachusetts to decide whether to appeal
                 another contention the ASLB decided in
                 Entergy's favor related to the accident at
                 the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan
                 in March.
Jun 8, 2012 - Pilgrim will retire unless the NRC renews the
                 license. The Commission is not required to
                 make a decision at any particular time.
              The plant, however, can continue to operate
                 after the license expires so long as the
                 renewal process is ongoing.
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