Proponents of a smaller federal government probably didn’t have this in mind – a local zoning board deciding the fate of a nuclear power plant. That’s what just happened in Plymouth, where the Zoning Board of Appeals last week decided, in an appeal filed by 18 residents, to uphold a building inspector’s decision that the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station can build a new waste storage facility at the plant without the need for a special permit. Currently, all nuclear waste from the time the plant went online over 40 years ago is stored in a swimming pool-like structure located above the plant’s reactor core. This structure is full of waste beyond its anticipated capacity. Because the Yucca Mountain facility in Washington State has never been opened (despite $10 billion spent drilling holes in the mountain to create a secure nuclear waste storage facility), there’s no place for Pilgrim Station’s owner, Entergy Corp., to ship the waste for storage offsite. While the appellants have promised to file an appeal of the Board’s decision in Superior Court, it will be interesting to see whether the feds or the state step in to resolve the problem first. And a high-profile problem it is, since the plant now supplies 14% of the state’s electric power.
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