PLYMOUTH — A handful of state and federal officials, an attorney from a national advocacy group, and the president of Holtec International, the company that owns the shuttered Pilgrim nuclear plant, are on the short list to testify during a Congressional field hearing on the decommissioning of nuclear reactors on Friday, May 6 at Plymouth Town Hall.
Because the potential release of a million gallons of radioactive water from the Pilgrim plant is foremost on the minds of residents near the plant and on Cape Cod, that topic is sure to be raised.
The Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Clear Air Climate and Nuclear Safety, chaired by Sen. Edward Markey, will convene the hearing at 10 a.m. Only those who have registered ahead may attend. The session will focus on the decommissioning process, nuclear safety and security issues, and state, local, and community stakeholder engagement.
A spokesperson for Markey confirmed that the senator and some witnesses are likely to comment on Holtec’s plan to release the water into Cape Cod Bay, “particularly focusing on the lack of community input.”
“The hearing will cover the economic, health, and environmental impacts of the decommissioning process on communities like Plymouth and others around Cape Cod Bay,” the spokesperson said in an email.
This is the only U.S. Senate field hearing planned on nuclear decommissioning issues.
Testimony at the hearing is by invitation only. The list includes Kris Singh, CEO of Holtec International, which is decommissioning Pilgrim and four other reactors; John Lubinski, director of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards; Assistant Attorney General Seth Schofield, who helped negotiate a settlement between the state and Holtec; Geoffrey Fettus, senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council; and state Sen. Susan Moran of Falmouth.
State Rep. Sarah Peake of Provincetown said neither she nor Sen. Julian Cyr could attend the hearing because of other commitments, but they had worked with legislators on a joint letter that Moran will read that will include their comments.
Both she and Cyr “are actively involved in the planning, strategy, and drafting of our testimony,” Peake said in an email.
Citizens groups from Cape Cod and the Plymouth area will rally at 9 a.m. on Friday outside Plymouth Town Hall before the hearing, at which there will be no public comments. Comments may be submitted in writing to [email protected]
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission plans to hold a public forum on May 9 to present its proposed revisions to the federal decommissioning regulations. But the question of how to release contaminated water is apparently not on the agenda.
“The staff will not be covering radioactive water disposal plans for Pilgrim during its presentation and are not the staffers involved with that matter,” NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan said in an email.
At the May 9 forum, the public will be able to ask questions and comment, but the primary purpose of the event is to outline the changes so that people can submit comments in writing, according to Sheehan.
A demonstration is planned for 5 p.m. on May 9 at the 1620 Plymouth Harbor hotel. State Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz will be among the speakers.