The Massachusetts attorney general’s office has filed suit with the U.S. Court of Appeals for a review of the decision by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to grant the license transfer of Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station to Holtec International.

PLYMOUTH - The Massachusetts attorney general’s office has filed suit with the U.S. Court of Appeals for a review of the decision by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to grant the license transfer of Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station to Holtec International.

Local officials are pleased with the decision to challenge the NRC in federal court. Plymouth, the state and others have been upset by the federal agency’s actions regarding the nuclear power plant. Several motions were filed requesting stays of the license transfer until comment could be provided by the community. The NRC approved the transfer without ruling on those motions.

"I applaud these efforts," said Select Board Chairman Ken Tavares. "This is the first step toward holding federal officials accountable for their actions. I support the attorney general in this action."

Sean Mullin, a Plymouth resident and co-chair of the Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel, also praised the decision to challenge the NRC in court.

"I commend the attorney general for continuing to pursue every available legal recourse to force the NRC to follow the law and its own regulations and practices," he said. "This is critically important because Holtec has consistently refused to enter into serious negotiations with the commonwealth or the town of Plymouth. The attorney general’s filing means that the commonwealth will finally have a court review the egregious process and decision of the NRC."

Critics are concerned Holtec does not have the financial resources or technical experience to decommission Pilgrim in eight years, like it has stated it intends to do. Both the state and the town are worried the project will be abandoned and radioactive material will be left at the site. 

The attorney general’s petition, filed with the Appeals Court in District of Columbia Circuit, requests a judicial review of the "order approving direct and indirect transfer of license," as well as of the safety evaluation, exemptions to use the decommissioning fund for other purposes and additional amendments issued by the NRC in transferring the license to Holtec.

"The NRC has repeatedly rubber-stamped Holtec’s plans, despite serious concerns about the company’s financial capacity, technical qualifications, and competency to safely decommission and clean up the Pilgrim site," Attorney General Maura Healey said in a statement. "We are asking the court to exercise its authority to vacate the NRC’s misguided and unsupported actions."

The Petition for Review cites several federal laws and rulings as basis for the filing including the Hobbs Act, Atomic Energy Act, Administrative Procedure Act and Rule 15 of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure, as well as local Circuit Rules.

"The NRC acted arbitrarily and capriciously, abused its discretion, and violated the Atomic energy Act, the Administrative Procedure Act, NEPA, the Council on Environmental Quality’s NEPA regulations, and the NRC’s own regulations and policies in effecting the foregoing final agency actions and failing to provide the commonwealth with a meaningful opportunity to participate in the process as contemplated by the Atomic Energy Act and the NRC’s own regulations and policies," the lawsuit states.

The NRC declined to comment because of ongoing litigation.