Thursday, October 24, 2013

Entergy's Nuclear Limbo Threatens Public Safety

October 21, 2013

Entergy's Nuclear Limbo Threatens Public Safety

Contact: Mary lampert, Pilgrim Watch 781-934-0389
Entergy that operates the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth Massachusetts is cutting the workforce, failing to invest in key equipment and personnel, and showing increasing signs of indecision about keeping the reactor running. Entergy's uncertainty creates a unique safety hazard, and nuclear watchdog groups focused on Entergy’s Pilgrim, Vermont Yankee and Fitzpatrick (Pilgrim Watch, Alliance for a Green Economy, Beyond Nuclear, Citizens Awareness Network, and Vermont Citizens Action Network) have asked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to expand an investigation into how Pilgrim’s, Vermont Yankee’s and Fitzpatrick’s (NY) economic problems impact public safety.

The attached request is a supplement to a petition filed in March by the watchdog groups. They pointed to projected financial losses at all three Entergy plants and asked the NRC to enforce its financial qualifications regulations, which require companies to generate enough money to maintain a nuclear reactor.

The NRC agreed on August 7 to investigate Entergy for compliance with the financial qualifications regulation at the three reactors. The supplement asks NRC to expand the scope of the investigation to look deeper into the ways Entergy's decision-making at the plants regarding staffing levels, equipment maintenance, and safety upgrades is affected by economic distress at the plants. The supplement also raises concerns that uncertainty at the plants could impact worker's willingness to stay or to report problems that could impact the company financially.

Because Entergy cannot compete with cheaper sources of electricity, it is not able to turn a profit at Pilgrim and it is cutting costs on the backs of workers and public safety. Operating a nuclear reactor under financial distress is dangerous so we are calling on the NRC to do its job and investigate Pilgrim’s finances before the cost cutting causes an accident.


Entergy made a bad bet when it bought Pilgrim, Vermont and Fitzpatrick in a newly deregulated (competitive) market. It bought the reactors for a song and initially raked in profits. Things went sour when natural gas came along and wind, and hydro undercut nuclear. Now Pilgrim is running significant deficits, showing losses on the same order as Vermont.

Moreover, Pilgrim is operating less due to unplanned shutdowns and power reductions putting Pilgrim in a deeper financial hole- when a reactor is shut down or operating at low capacity, they lose money.

Pilgrim Operational Performance (January 1-September 27, 2013) -
Add another shutdown October 14th

Power Generation Level
Number of Days
Equivalent Days at Full Operation
0% (shut down)
100% (full power)

Pilgrim operated at 68% of capacity through September 27; the October 14 shutdown makes it worse.
Entergy wants to satisfy its shareholders, but you cannot safely run a nuclear reactor on the cheap- especially an old reactor with parts breaking down.

Financial distress threat to public health & safety

Just this year, Pilgrim has had 18 Event Reports, an unprecedented number for the industry, and more than ten times the number of shutdowns than the national average. The shutdowns and required event reports to NRC are clear signs that Entergy is not making the necessary investments in personnel and maintenance that are needed to safely run this antique reactor.  To put it in perspective, Pilgrim was built about the time the Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show and Lyndon Johnson was President.”
I do not know about you but I have gone through many household appliances and cars since the 1960’s.
Absent substantial investments in aging reactors that Entergy is unwilling to make, the public is at risk.

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