Today the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) submitted a request to the Entergy Corporation, operator of Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station, that they reach a specific agreement on clean-up standards related to the decommissioning of Pilgrim. Specifically, DPH has requested that Entergy comply with the Commonwealth’s unrestricted release level of residual radioactivity of <10 millirem per year for all pathways.
“I want to thank the Department of Public Health for their leaderships on this issue,” said Senator Vinny deMacedo (R – Plymouth). “As we draw closer to the decommissioning of Pilgrim, it is important that the Commonwealth assert its rights and protects its residents in every way possible. Reaching agreement on this release standard is an important first step in making sure our residents are protected after the plant closes.”
Limiting the amount of radiological activity at the site of Pilgrim after decommissioning is completed was identified as one of the priorities of the Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel (NDCAP). NDCAP was formed by the Legislature to research decommissioning activities at other nuclear power plants and identify ways the Commonwealth could protect itself before the plant entered decommissioning. Through their research they identified an issue at Vermont Yankee that the federal standard for radiological release at a former nuclear power plant is currently 25 mrem/year. In Vermont, the state reached an agreement limiting the site to a radiological dose limit of 15 mrem/year from all pathways combined, with no more than 5 mrem/year from liquid effluents.
“I appreciate the work done by the NDCAP in identifying this issue,” said Senator deMacedo who sponsored the language creating the NDCAP. “Pilgrim is situated in an ideal location in our community and it is important that site be cleaned to the highest possible standard. I look forward to continuing to work to ensure that it is.”
As part of its communication to Entergy, DPH requested that Entergy submit a proposed compliance document to the DPH Radiation Control Program that describes propsed methods for achieving an unrestricted release level of residual radioactivity of <10 mrem/year for all pathways and that the residual radioactivity
be reduced to levels as low as reasonably achievable. Further, under the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), exposure limits of <4 mrem/year are set for all potential drinking water pathways. As part of the agreement Entergy will need to outline a protocol to confirm achievement of these standards after any necessary remediation and provide assurances those obligations will be met in the event that the site is sold to a third party.