August 21, 2014

Earthrise deals blow to nuclear power plant in Massachusetts

Judge’s ruling on standing prevents spent nuclear fuel from endangering community

Earthrise is assisting a group of Massachusetts’s citizens and public interest lawyers, including Earthrise alum Genevieve Byrne and Earthrise Advisory Council member Meg Sheehan, in challenging a decision by the Plymouth, Massachusetts Zoning Board. The decision would allow the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station to construct and operate a long-term storage facility for spent nuclear fuel without a special permit that would ensure the public’s ability to participate in the process, as well as incorporate conditions to protect the environment.  On August 14, 2014, the group scored a major victory when the Massachusetts Land Court rejected Entergy Corporation’s (Pilgrim’s owner) attempts to dismiss the case for lack of standing.  The court found that certain citizen plaintiffs residing within two miles of the plant had standing based on the diminution of their property values that will result from the construction of the storage facility and continued operation of the plant.  Earthrise Advisory Council member Meg Sheehan argued the case for the Plaintiffs. As a result of the court’s ruling, the case can proceed to the merits. 

The Pilgrim Nuclear Plant sits on the shores of Cape Cod Bay in Plymouth, Massachusetts.  In early 2013, Entergy began construction of a $140 million concrete pad and dry cask long-term storage unit for its spent nuclear fuel.  Because the Town of Plymouth did not require a special zoning permit, the massive project—that will result in the indefinite storage of nuclear waste within a few hundred feet of the shoreline—has received little public scrutiny and no evaluation of the risk for adverse, and potentially catastrophic, environmental effects.  The plaintiffs seek a remand of the case to the Plymouth Zoning Board to require a special permit with attendant environmental design conditions and mitigation to ensure that, if nuclear waste is going to be stored so close to such an environmentally important area as Cape Cod Bay, it is done in the safest and most environmentally protective way possible.  A copy of the court’s order denying Entergy’s summary judgment on standing can be found here.