Attorney General Coakley challenges relicensing of Pilgrim nuclear plant

Attorney General Martha Coakley today filed an appeal of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s decision to relicense the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant for another 20 years, her office announced.

The appeal, filed in the First US Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston, asserts that the NRC acted “arbitrarily” and “abused its discretion” when it voted to relicense the Plymouth power plant for another 20 years before considering the similarities between the Pilgrim plant and the Fukushima Daiichi power plant in Japan.

“The NRC, over our objections, chose to relicense Pilgrim without fully considering the important safety issues raised in the aftermath of the Fukushima accident,” Coakley said in a statement. “We are appealing that decision today to require the NRC to take the necessary steps to ensure the safety of the plant and the residents of the surrounding communities.”

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Coakley filed a petition last year urging the NRC’s Atomic Safety and Licensing Board to refrain from relicensing the Pilgrim plant in the wake of meltdowns at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi power plant, which happened after the plant was swamped by the mammoth tsunami that ravaged the Japanese coast.

In April, Coakley’s office also filed an appeal challenging the NRC’s decision to proceed with relicensing hearings before officially considering the similarities between Pilgrim and the Fukushima plant.

The NRC went ahead, though, and now Coakley is challenging its decision to relicense the plant.

“The NRC’s refusal to consider these important public safety and environmental issues violates federal law and the NRC’s own regulations to consider new and significant information relevant to the operation of a nuclear plant,” Coakley’s office said in a statement.

Before relicensing the plant, the NRC declined “to consider additional mitigation measures raised by [Coakley’s] expert to reduce these risks,” according to Coakley’s office.