November 04, 2021

Senators Warren, Markey Denounce NRC’s Approval of Proposed Decommissioning Rule

Washington D.C. – Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.)  released the following joint statement after the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) approved a proposed rule to amend the agency’s regulations for nuclear power plants undergoing decommissioning:

“We are deeply disappointed that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission failed to capitalize on this important opportunity to strengthen the decommissioning process and prioritize community safety over industry savings,” said the senators. “The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is responsible for ensuring a safe, effective, and efficient decommissioning process for nuclear plants, including Pilgrim Power Station, and this proposed rule falls short. The proposed rule does not include any of the critical changes that we have requested to improve public and stakeholder participation, establish a comprehensive set of decommissioning and cleanup regulations, or address concerns about the safety and duration of onsite storage of spent fuel, an issue of specific concern to the residents around the Pilgrim plant. Instead, the proposed rule allows the NRC and plant operators to cut corners on safety and limit public engagement at the expense of the communities near nuclear plants. This is unacceptable, and we urge the NRC to strengthen this decommissioning rule before finalization in order to better prioritize safety and security.”

As the Pilgrim Power Station commenced its decommissioning process, Senators Warren and Markey continued to fight to ensure that the NRC prioritized safety and public participation. In August 2019, Senators Warren and Markey, and Representative William Keating (D-MA-09) wrote to the NRC urging it to delay its ruling on the proposed license transfer for Pilgrim from Entergy Nuclear Operations, Inc. to Holtec International until after the Commission considered and ruled on existing petitions and motions.  

Senator Warren has been a leading advocate for community safety in nuclear energy.

  • In June 2020, Senator Warren joined Senator Markey to announce the Preserving Leadership Against Nuclear Explosives Testing (PLANET) Act which would have prohibited the former administration from restarting U.S. nuclear weapons testing.

  • In January 2019, Senator Warren commended the decision by the NRC to delay the request to amend and extend Seabrook Nuclear Power Station’s license until the community’s concerns were heard. The lawmakers called on the NRC to hear community concerns and address ongoing safety issues before renewing or amending the license for nuclear power plants.

  • In November 2019, Senator Warren expressed disappointment following news that federal regulators at the NRC plan to exempt Holtec International from emergency planning regulations as the firm works to decommission the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station.

  • In August 2019, she called for community concerns to be addressed before Pilgrim was allowed to change hands from Entergy Nuclear Operations, Inc. to Holtec.

  • In 2018, Senator Warren offered an amendment to oversee the development of new, modified nuclear weapons. She also pressed the NRC on safety concerns at Pilgrim Power Plant. 

  • Along with Massachusetts officials, she called for a public meeting on safety at Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant in 2017. 

  • In 2014, Senators Warren and Markey called on the NRC to direct the licensees of Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Massachusetts and Seabrook Station in New Hampshire to immediately implement mitigation measures against seismic risks that were previously unknown.