Officials of the Pilgrim nuclear power plant have publicly announced that the financial costs stemming from mandated safety improvements and reforms required by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission may prove too costly to keep the plant open.
At the beginning of September after inspections revealed significant unresolved safety issues, the NRC downgraded the safety rating of the Pilgrim plant, which has also combatted a reoccurring problem with unplanned shutdowns over the past few years. An investigation by the NRC found that Entergy had not corrected the underlying issues that had led to some of the unplanned shutdowns.
David Noyes, the Director of Regulatory and Performance Improvement told reporters, “If the corporation finds that the cost of making the improvements of the plant exceed the value of the plant, the corporation may decide to shut the plant down.”
As part of the downgraded rating, the NRC will increase the frequency and scope of inspections and require Entergy, the operator of the nuclear power plant, to present a performance improvement plan at a public meeting within six months.
Dave Lochbaum of the Union of Concerned Scientists has pointed out relevant data published by a nuclear industry consultant in 2008 which claims that the financial costs for returning a plant like the Pilgrim nuclear power plant from a degraded safety rating will likely cost at least $100-$300 million USD.
The Pilgrim nuclear power plant started generating electrical power to the grid in 1972, and received an additional 20 year operating license from the NRC which will allow it to continue operating until 2032. Entergy has seen its company stock price plummet by 30% in 2015 alone.
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