1. PILGRIM IS IMMEDIATELY VULNERABLE TO ATTACK because, according to a Pentagon-commissioned analysis, Pilgrim and 7 other U.S. plants have an unprotected cooling water intake from the ocean, and an unprotected spent fuel pool. Cooling water, which is absolutely critical for both the reactor and the spent fuel pool, could be knocked out by blowing up the water intake by boat, while the spent fuel pool, located just under the non-reinforced roof, could be cracked and drained by dropping explosive by air.
This could happen at any moment, since there are no physical barriers to prevent it, and air space over Pilgrim is unrestricted.
If this were to happen, a 2006 report commissioned by the Mass. Attorney General projected radiation emissions causing 24,000 cancers and a stupendous $582 billion in damages. Of this, Pilgrim is liable for under 1%, while home insurance does NOT cover it.
2. PILGRIM IS IN A VERY UNSAFE, UNSTABLE CONDITION, with frequent emergency shutdowns called SCRAMS, whose root causes have not been determined. This is reflected in Pilgrim’s ratings by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC): one of the 9 least safe in 2013, one of 5 in 2014, one of 3 in 2015.
The most recent downgrade was based on the events during the snowstorm in the early hours of Jan. 27, 2015, which paralyzed traffic in Massachusetts, and also knocked out the 2 main power feeds going in to Pilgrim, jeopardizing its all-important cooling system. Two of the diesel backups started, but another one that generates air pressure to operate safety valves and instrumentation did not. After fretful hours of not knowing what was happening in the reactor, and little ability to do anything about it, a backup diesel was finally located from outside Pilgrim, which started, and averted an enormous potential catastrophe. We lucked out that time, but can the public truly be said to be safe?
3. THE NRC RECOMMENDED A 50-MILE EVACUATION ZONE for Americans in Japan during the Fukushima disaster. During the January 27 storm, the wind speeds exceeded 60 mph during the storm, and so in a nuclear emergency, the plume of radiation would reach Newton in 38 minutes if the wind is blowing in this direction. Could we evacuate Newton in 38 minutes in a snowstorm at 2 AM?
4. IF PILGRIM IS CLOSED, WILL WE HAVE BLACKOUTS? Not at all likely, since Pilgrim supplies only 2% of the capacity to generate electricity in the ISO New England pool (680 MW of 33,000 MW), and we’ll have an ISO NE projected 12% to 20% reserve capacity over the next 10 years.
5. WILL WE BURN MORE FOSSIL FUEL IF WE CLOSE PILGRIM? Yes, in Massachusetts about 13% more, unless we increase our purchases of hydro from Canada, increase our solar and wind installations, reduce our consumption, and as individuals, if we arrange for 100% renewable electricity delivered to our home, which we could all do TODAY.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
Yes, global warming is a real and serious concern, and we’ll all have to take action if we are going to escape its clutches. But Pilgrim is an immense clear and present danger, right now. How many warnings do we need to finally get the message?