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Deal reached in dispute over sale of Pilgrim nuclear plant

Power Plant
Credit: Photo by Victoria Tanner on Unsplash

Massachusetts has agreed to drop its legal challenges to the sale of a shuttered nuclear plant as part of a deal that requires the new owner to keep a financial reserve to cover unexpected costs as it cleans up the site.

State officials on Wednesday announced a settlement with Holtec International, which bought the Pilgrim power plant last year and promised to decommission and demolish the site within eight years.

The plant’s sale was approved by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission last August, but Massachusetts filed two lawsuits and a federal petition raising concerns that Holtec lacked the funding to clean the site safely and store spent nuclear fuel.

As part of the settlement, Holtec will be required to maintain at least $193 million through most of the cleanup in case the project faces delays or other unexpected costs. The company also must secure a $30 million pollution insurance policy.

Other provisions require Holtec to meet state safety standards that are stricter than federal requirements, and the company will be required to provide funding to the state’s Department of Public Health to monitor for contamination.

Gov. Charlie Baker issued a statement calling the deal “a critical step towards the safe decommissioning and cleanup of the Pilgrim site while our administration continues working on a clean energy future for the Commonwealth.”

Kris Singh, president and CEO of Holtec International, said the company vowed to work with state officials from the time of the sale. He said the agreement shows “we were true to our word and fulfilled our commitment.”

Holtec bought Pilgrim from the company Entergy, which had estimated it would take 60 years to decommission the site. The plant shut down in May 2019 after 47 years of generating electricity. The closure marked the end of nuclear power in Massachusetts.

Holtec said it’s in the process of removing spent nuclear fuel from the plant and placing it in a storage facility. It plans to complete the cleanup by the end of 2027.