Pilgrim relicensing reaches critical mass
Thursday, May 24, 2012
Nuclear power plants are a lot like baseball umpires: It’s far better for everyone when you don’t hear their names.
But the Pilgrim power plant
in Plymouth is receiving a whole lot of attention lately, much more bad than good, and with the license set to expire in two weeks, the timing could not be worse. All that’s missing is a reappearance of the Clamshell Alliance
to complete this back-to-the-future dispute.
The 40-year-old plant has already been the focus of the longest running relicensing process in the history of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission
, beginning six years ago. Outside of a few perfunctory protests, mainly from the one-person force of nature named Mary Lampert
who heads the Pilgrim Watch
group, most observers thought relicensing through 2032 would be a done deal.
But there’s been more than a few metaphoric meltdowns on the path and the concerns are reaching critical mass with the clock winding down to June 8, though it could keep operating until the process is complete one way or the other.
Earlier this month, the state’s top elected officials and members of the congressional delegation urged the NRC to slow down the process
and consider many of the safety concerns that have been raised in the wake of the Fukushima
disaster in Japan. This came on the heels of the NRC panel reviewing the license sending a letter to top commission officials saying the permit was good to go
even though there were still some unsettled issues.
But it’s now become a political hot potato with Republican members of the House Energy Committee
, led by US Rep. Fred Upton
of Michigan, firing off a letter this week to the NRC
demanding the license be approved and answering why it hasn’t been. They are concerned the foot-dragging could affect other relicensing processes
The same day the Republicans sent the letter, NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko
, who lists US Rep. Ed Markey
among his allies, stepped down
. It may have nothing to do with Pilgrim, but the timing is suspect.
As all this is going on, Pilgrim’s owner Entergy
is in a tong war with union members over a new contract and it is not playing out well for the Louisiana-based company. After sending non-essential personnel home – what union officials called a lockout
– after the union authorized a strike, company officials were forced to bring workers back when operators had to shut down the plant because of a mechanical failure
, the third emergency shutdown there in the last seven months.
The protests are also growing louder, bigger, and more common. Fourteen protesters were arrested over the weekend for trespassing
when they tried to deliver a letter to plant officials and crossed the designated free speech line.
Even the natives are getting restless. The plant has had an uneasy alliance with Plymouth residents for decades, with townsfolk seeing the benefit of 650 jobs and millions in taxes as a trade-off for sleeping with one eye open and accepting that the schools keep a stock of iodine pills at the ready.
But earlier this month voters passed a nonbinding referendum
instructing selectmen to let the NRC know the town wants the relicensing process to halt. But nonbinding does not mean unheard. It was the latest of 11 area ballot questions to pass opposing the relicensing. --JACK SULLIVAN BEACON HILLSen. Brian Joyce of Milton
goes on Broadside to talk
about his bill requiring mutual insurance companies such as Liberty Mutual to disclose what their executives are paid.
that Thomas Manning
, deputy chancellor of Commonwealth Medicine at the UMass Medical School in Worcester, will be eligible for a pension of $1,000 a day when he retires at the end of next month. Manning has a base salary of $433,500 and total compensation of $634,456.
An attempt to introduce measures that would raise or decrease a variety of taxes and fees
was squashed by Senate President Therese Murray.The Republican
argues that lawmakers should close a loophole
in Melanie’s law that allows some drunk-drivers to avoid the stiffest civil penalties.
The House changes
the state’s Gateway Cities formula to make Attleboro
eligible for the program. Meanwhile, the Senate approves a budget amendment lower the population threshold.
Ernie Boch III spreads dirt
about Robert Mulligan,
the Trial Court’s chief justice for administration and managementy, on Blue Mass Group.MUNICIPAL MATTERS
The chairman of the board of health in Lawrence
vows to shut down an unlicensed boarding house plagued by drug dealing and fire code violations. The owner is from Jericho, New York, the Eagle-Tribune reports
.Lowell City Manager Bernie Lynch
proposes a $4 million capital spending plan, including $1.9 million for school buildings in rough shape, the Sun reports
Some Fall River
city councilors are questioning the proposal by Mayor Will Flanagan
to accept the deed for the shuttered Central Congregational Church as settlement for the delinquent taxes
owed by the restaurant once housed there.
editorial mocks Boston
“hipsters who want to party until 5a.m.” NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON
A study done by researchers at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government
finds a correlation between how isolated a state capital is and how corrupt it is. A key factor is the heavier news coverage in less isolated capitals, the Los Angeles Times reports
The upside of gridlock? Bad ideas don’t have a chance of passing
A group of California judges
, led by the chief justice of the state’s Supreme Court, lobby lawmakers to block proposed cuts in the court budget, the Wall Street Journal reports
Birth and fertility rates are falling everywhere except the United States. Ben Wattenberg
in the Wall Street Journal
, says America has a population edge that will help it economically and culturally.
As Stockton, California,
heads for bankruptcy, a key question is whether a municipality can retroactively change contract provisions that have promised benefits to pensioners, Governing reports
A draft report on a $10 billion federal program
for children with disabilities
finds that little monitoring takes place of progress being made by those with behavioral and learning problems, meaning many children continue to receive payments even after their improved condition should no longer warrant such benefits.
Connecticut becomes the ninth state to pass election day voter registration.
The law takes effect in 2013.ELECTION 2012Colin Powell
says that Mitt Romney
needs to “think”
about foreign policy.Sen. Scott Brown
and Elizabeth Warren
remain deadlocked in the US Senate race, despite a barrage of negative stories about Warren’s alleged Native American background, the Huffington Post reports
. The New York Times
story is here
; the Herald
, which has been driving coverage of Warren’s heritage for a month, doesn’t cover the poll. George Will piles on
The Republicans’ Hispanic problem is more serious than they realize
, and putting Mario Rubio
on the ticket isn’t going to solve it. Karl Rove examines
Romney’s Electoral College map. BUSINESS/ECONOMYHewlett-Packard
prepares to lay off 27,000 workers, 8 percent of its workforce, the Los Angeles Times reports
on On Point
, interviews Charles Ferguson
, the director of an Academy Award-winning documentary on the Wall Street crash and now the author of a book about corruption in American finance and politics.
Two of the top officials at Curt Schilling
’s ailing 38 Studios have apparently been given the hook
. No word on who is being called in from the bullpen. Nordstrom Rack
, the discount brand of the upscale retailer, is coming to Boylston Street
in Boston, and Mayor Tom Menino, for one, says he plans to do some shopping there.
Developers present plans for “Tremont Crossing,” a proposed multi-use project in lower Roxbury
, to neighborhood residents.Marylou’s
coffee shops are under federal investigation
for possible equal-employment
violations. EDUCATIONMitt Romney unveils a wide-ranging education proposal
, which includes vouchers for low-income students. He calls
education “the civil rights issue of our era.” The Wall Street Journal notes
that much of Romney’s proposal is drawn from efforts in Florida
The Haverhill School Committee
is poised to give an assistant superintendent a $30,000 raise to $120,000, the Eagle-Tribune reports
. The superintendent received a $35,000 raise last year, bringing his pay to $185,000.Indiana University
just issued its first five bachelor’s degrees in philanthropic studies
, a first-in-the-nation program to groom the next generation of nonprofit leaders.RELIGION
Quincy’s last remaining Jewish temple will close at the end of the year
and be put on the market because the once-thriving Temple Beth-El
now has just 29 members.
On Greater Boston
, Ray Flynn
, the former ambassador to the Holy See
, and local parishioner Jon Rogers
mull the Vatican
’s decision to deny appeals to overturn the closing of six parishes
in the Boston Archdiocese
selectmen are questioning whether the board’s newest member can vote on issues regarding the wind turbines
because he was a party to a lawsuit opposing the project before he was elected.
The city of Los Angeles
bans plastic bags, the LA Times reports
The town of Hull has promised it will no longer scrape the beaches
to clear them of rocks and seaweed after agreeing to pay a $10,000 fine to the state.
Western Massachusetts Electric’s supply rates
for residential and smaller business customers are expected to drop by up to 15 percent due to the decrease in natural gas prices.CRIMINAL JUSTICE
Changes to the state law governing criminal background checks
on prospective employees have done little to ease the transition of ex-offenders into the job market, according to a report
being released today. MEDIA
The New Orleans Times-Picayune
is preparing to lay off employees and publish the print newspaper just two to three times a week, the New York Times reports
bids farewell to the father of the couch potato