Nuclear disaster funding increases in Plymouth
the owner of Pilgrim Station is opening up its wallet to fund local emergency training, an indication that the nuclear accident at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is having an impact on plant operators in the United States.
In June, Plymouth and Entergy Nuclear agreed on a deal that will allow town officials to beef up first responder training for emergencies at the Pilgrim nuclear power plant. Aaron Wallace, Plymouth’s emergency management director, says the 2012-2013 agreement gives the town an annual grant of $245,000 for administration costs, including salaries, and $75,000 for training. The training money is more than twice the $31,000 the town received in 2010.
Rob Williams, an Entergy Nuclear spokesman, says that the company reached “interim agreements with a couple of towns” in the 10-mile evacuation zone around the plant, but declined to offer more details about any of those pacts at press time, saying only that “process [is] still underway.”
Local emergency managers expect to see more federal and state requirements post-Fukushima. If federal nuclear regulators increase the size of emergency zones to include more communities, a move that Bay State and federal lawmakers called for at a special Beacon Hill hearing on nuclear power plant safety in April, emergency managers in Plymouth and elsewhere would have to select new evacuation centers, (Plymouth’s are in Braintree, Bridgewater, and Taunton), health care centers, and transportation routes. “Trying to figure out how to fund those and… accurately plan those will be a challenge,” says Wallace.