Panel holds forum on Pilgrim power plant relicensing

Adam Riglian

Speaking before an atomic safety panel, people in favor of license renewal for the Pilgrim nuclear power plant talked jobs.

People opposed talked safety.

On Wednesday, three judges from the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board heard testimony from citizens, environmentalists, physicians, nuclear submarine veterans and lobbyists. Speakers outlined what they believe to be the pros and cons of renewing the plant’s license until 2032. It is set to expire in 2012.

“I think (the board) was very limited in what they will consider,” said Becky Chin, co-chairman of the Duxbury Nuclear Advisory Committee, “but I am glad that the general public had a chance to get out their concerns.”

Chin expressed concerns regarding Pilgrim’s management and whether buried pipes and tanks were being monitored closely enough to detect leaks.

Speaking in favor of license renewal were representatives from Associated Industries of Massachusetts, the Massachusetts AFL-CIO and the Massachusetts Affordable Reliable Electricity Alliance, a group that supports nuclear energy as part of a mix of cheaper energy sources.

Spokesmen from these groups rallied behind Pilgrim, saying the plant’s monitoring is adequate and that nuclear power not only creates jobs but provides cheaper electricity during a time when energy costs are a major concern for businesses.

“To prevent higher energy costs in Massachusetts, it is imperative to keep Pilgrim nuclear power plant opened,” said Tim Sullivan, communications director for the AFL-CIO. “Think of the 700 jobs, including 400 labor jobs, that would be lost in Plymouth and nearby.”

The same three-judge panel was to meet with other interested parties today, including Pilgrim Watch, a local nuclear monitoring group.

Adam Riglian may be reached at