Re: PlymouthFirst column, “Decommissioning Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station” (March 7)

Re: PlymouthFirst column, “Decommissioning Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station” (March 7):

The author notes in passing that “If a state has more stringent radiation standards than the NRC (Nuclear Regulatory Commission) standards, those standards must be used. As of January 2018, Massachusetts has no such standards that may apply to the PNPS (Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station).”

Sadly, that's true but it needn’t be. It shouldn’t be! The NRC’s standard of radiological cleanup is a per year total effective dose equivalent of 25 millirem, and a higher level of residual activity – 100 or 500 milligram – if the site is released for restricted (rather than non-restricted) use. These standards amount to a lifetime risk considerably greater than that allowed by the Environmental Protection Agency where it has authority.

Our own Massachusetts Department of Public Health currently applies far more stringent radiological standards – not more than 10 milligram per year – to all other radioactive sites. Inexplicably, Mass DPH has not yet applied these same standards to Pilgrim. It has the clear authority to do so and could – by amending the existing regulation (105 CMR 120.244-258) to include commercial reactors; or by making a new regulation. Why has the MDPH not asserted its authority to protect the citizens of the commonwealth?

The town of Duxbury made a formal request to the MDPH, as have several state senators and many private citizens.

Why has Plymouth failed to do so? Why has our Board of Selectmen declined to make this request? Without action by the state, we’ll be stuck with the NRC’s default standards. Why would anyone want to allow this when the solution is clear and at hand?

Henrietta Cosentino, Plymouth