Above: Nuclear Regulatory Commission photo:
PLYMOUTH – Encouraged by a decision in the Massachusetts Land Court, anti-nuclear activists are forging ahead with a lawsuit, arguing that the Pilgrim nuclear station in Plymouth and its storage of spent nuclear fuel have hurt property values in the area.
The plaintiffs – 11 residents who live within two miles of the 685-megawatt nuclear power plant owned by Louisiana-based Entergy Corp. – are challenging Entergy and the Plymouth officials who approved a permit for the company to build concrete pads for storing nuclear waste in concrete casks.
“A project that has these threats and dangers and such a huge impact on the community should be subject to the highest level of oversight by local boards,” said Meg Sheehan, a Cambridge lawyer representing the residents.
Sheehan said that Plymouth’s building inspector and zoning board wrongly approved the building permit for Pilgrim and should have required a special permitting process and a public hearing.
Two weeks ago, the land court allowed part of the case to move forward, deciding that the nearby residents of the nuclear power plant offered sufficient evidence that the new dry cask nuclear storage system planned at Pilgrim will harm their property values.
“Potential buyers are and will be dissuaded from purchasing real estate such as mine that is very close to Pilgrim, because now, not only would they be purchasing a home very near an operating nuclear plant, but also very near a long-term nuclear waste dump,” plaintiff Frederick Paris stated in his affidavit.
An Entergy spokesman said Tuesday he could not comment on the case in land court, but he said that Entergy is running trials in preparation for transferring spent nuclear fuel from pools to dry casks later this year or early in 2015.
“Sometime this fall, we will have final approvals in place to begin the actual undertaking,” said Jerry Nappi, an Entergy spokesman in White Plains, N.Y.
According to the land court document, Entergy agreed not to begin transferring any spent fuel until after Oct. 31.
Entergy is running out of space for spent fuel at Pilgrim and plans to transfer about six percent of it – 68 fuel assemblies – into three concrete casks. Pilgrim nuclear power plant currently stores more than 500 metric tons of spent fuel in deep pools.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs said there is no trial date scheduled yet in land court.
The land court rejected claims by plaintiffs in the case who had argued for a voice in local permitting based on environmental and health concerns stemming from Pilgrim.
“I used to observe a healthy population of starfish, sand dollars and horseshoe crabs along White Horse Beach,” wrote plaintiff Christine Bostek in an affidavit. “There are now virtually no fish to be had in the near shore of Cape Cod Bay around White Horse Beach.”
Bostek and others argued that “a thermal plume of pollution covers about five square miles” around the nuclear power plant.
But the land court sided with Entergy lawyers that such claims were “not special and different from the concerns of the rest of the community.”
For more on shutting down Pilgrim Nuclear visit http://capedownwinders.org/