Could Mass. See Nuclear Meltdown Like Japan’s?

By Bill Shields, WBZ-TV

PLYMOUTH (CBS) — “What is happening at the Japanese nuclear site is cataclysmic,” says M.I.T. Professor Ian Hutchinson. Three of the six reactors at Fukushima are in danger of a meltdown.  All three were built about the same time as the Pilgrim nuclear station in Plymouth and have very similar designs.

WBZ-TV’s Bill Shields reports from Plymouth

Pilgrim Station officials have little to fear from a tsunami.  Nonetheless, they have backup systems if there is a disruption of power. “We have a direct feed from NSTAR,” says Dave Tarantino of Entergy, Pilgrim’s owner, “and three diesel units to generate more power if needed; even a massive amount of battery power as a last resort.” 

The lifeblood of most nuclear power plants is cooling water, which Pilgrim gets from the ocean, just like the reactors at Fukushima. “Our unit is like a giant radiator,” says Tarantino, “and we use 300,000 gallons of water per minute to cool the system.”

But could a Chernobyl-style meltdown happen in Japan, or Plymouth? Dr. Hutchinson doesn’t believe so. “At Fukushima, the containment building is such that if there is a meltdown, the structure should hold it.”

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Bernice Corpuz reports.

Hutchinson added that what is happening in Japan more closely resembles what happened at 3-Mile Island in 1979, where there was not a massive amount of radioactive material released into the environment.

More from Bill Shields
  • wedge bramhall

    What a joke. Pilgrims PR guy must be having a hard time putting a positive spin on this one. He says they have a direct line to NStar and backup generators. Well so did the Japanese plants. The problem is that once the grid went down the generators wouldn’t keep up with the event. These nuclear engineers all seem to learn on the job as these accidents unfold, at the expense of the people that live near the plant.. It happened at TMI too. Keep the public in the dark as long as possible.
    Tarrantino says they use 300,000 gallons of water per minute to cool the plant. Does that include the thousand plus tons of high level nuclear waste that also needs all this water to flow 24/7? What happens when the pumps go down.?? Fire hoses?
    After 911 Entergy should have been made to put that high level nuclear waste in the ground in dry storage. It is now stored in the most vulnerable spent fuel pool in the industry, 40 feet in the air with pumps pushing water through it.
    This isn’t jusy Plymouths problem it is a problem for the entire NE and it should finally be given the attention it deserves. Don’t let the smiley faced Entergy PR people fool you with their little donations around the area. Get educated people!

  • jack

    since boston edison left pilgrim is a dangerous joke.entergy is toying with the public.back up cooling systems are rotting away.they say we will fix them next outage.but they never do.profits over safety

  • Ellen

    I have heard people saying this would never happen here. Well the Japanese thought the very same thing, so yes it can happen here because Mother Nature is bigger then us, and can be nastier then nasty when it comes to mayhem.

  • Ellen Bump

    We need to re-evaluate this system in Plymouth! Building, materials, systems all deteriorate on their own, let alone being influenced by an earth quake. With the information we are receiving from Japan, this needs to happen sooner than later !

  • Kimberly Savino

    @ Ellen: Many people seem to believe that bad things won’t happen in their communities; Others prefer to have blind trust in the authorities, in order to make themselves feel reassured. Although the chances are very low of having a Chernobyl-like disaster here, there is still a possibility – however remote – because as we’ve seen, even the best of planned systems can fail. And they still want to erect more nuclear facilities! The time, funds, and energy needs to be spent on finding safer ways to generate power (like wind, solar, etc), rather than constructing another disaster waiting to happen. People are notorious for waiting until a crisis happens, then sit and analyze what went wrong after it’s too late. Corporate leaders (and even our government) would rather put bandaids on hemorrhages and minimize problems, in order to save money in the short run – even if it “costs” more in dollars, property, and lives in the long run. Re. Japan, the Three Mile Island, and Chernobyl incidents, in each case, authorities were all guilty of minimizing/concealing the extent of the incidents. What have they got to lose? If they’re wrong, they can just throw their hands up, and claim that it is a tragedy that no one could have forseen; Blame it on mechanical failures. That hardly comforts the thousands of people who may lose their homes, properties, pets, lives, etc in the event of a nuclear disaster on the South Shore. I love Plymouth for shopping and the beaches, but I wouldn’t have a home there if were offered to me for free. We intentionally built ours outside of the 10 mile radius, but still just shy of the 20…For various reasons, when the market picks up, we plan to relocate. Events like these make me hope that day comes sooner than later!

  • derf

    If you have not worked at plymouth then shut up. Everyone is an expert. The COOLING COMES FROM THE ATLANTIC PERIOD. Lets go back burning leaves and wood. Lets live like the old Pilgrims. Give up your toys. and please shut the hell up …you don’t know what you are all talking about.

    • derf-no

      It is air cooled…. PERIOD!

  • Todd

    Oh boy, listen to the Morons that think they know everything about Nuclear Power. Unless you have worked at one you really have no clue…………it is proven everyday when you have someone get on TV or Radio that has a degree in Advertising or Mass Communications and try to talk about something that was not taught at the Liberal Arts College they attended. Even this morning on this radio station some “expert” said that Pilgrim is “Air Cooled”??????Are you kidding me……………Air can’t even cool the pan on my stove let alone a 600F Nuclear Reactor. Once again get a clue before you talk. Derf is 100% Correct, Pilgrim is a Boiling Water Reactor that is cooled by water directly and then indirectly this water is cooled by the Atlantic Ocean which I guess is cooled by the atmosphere (air)… in the long run, derf-no is somewhat correct but that’s like saying that the Dinosaurs created the internet, no that was Bolt Beranek & Newman, in Cambridge, Mass in 1969, but they could not have done it without the Dinosaurs. Learn before you speak!!!! Also backup systems are installed at every Nuke plant in the World to provide cooling if this system fails. Unfortunately in Japan there was a 9.0 earthquake which is bad enough but then a 30ft wall of water hits the same place, no one ever imagined this would happen, but at the same time I am sure that those people commenting above still drive cars that crash, fly in airplanes that fall out of the sky, or work in high rise office buildings that fall, we have not stopped building and using them have we????? How many people have been killed by those three in the last 50 years, there’s a LOT of zeros in that number! How many people have been killed as a direct result of Nuclear Power? Less than 60, and 57 of those were at Chernobyl. You want an alternate energy source……wind and solar you say……two things here, the wind does not blow 24/7 and the sun shines for 12 hours a day max, so for every kilowatt of wind and solar you build you have to build something that provides that kw at Midnight. You need about 250 Wind Turbines to create the same power as your Pilgrim Nuke plant creates, you ever see the eyesore of 250 Wind Turbines and the environmental impact of that?. And oh my “How many birds are killed every year by these things?” We can’t possibly hurt the birds!! Your choices are Coal, Gas, Oil or Nuclear. (Unless you want to go back to Little House on the Prairie time) Until we figure out how to create energy from your BS you are going to have to have one or all of these to provide your power 24/7. And BTW “Jack” it was in April of 1986 when Boston Edison owned Pilgrim that they were shutdown for Reoccurring Equipment Problems. Seems like they were the “Joke” not Entergy! And Wedge, they have been trying to put it in the ground in Nevada for years but someone thinks it’s too dangerous to transport, have you ever seen what is being transported on our highways everyday… might want to look up some of the codes that are printed on each semi-trailer and see what’s going past your house daily. You would be impressed…and most of that stuff is so that YOU can have your little life luxuries, (cell phone, TV, internet, car, house) I’m sure you got all of those items. And Ellen, you ever been in an earthquake in Boston?…..I didn’t think so. You didn’t build your house to Hurricane standards did you, probably not because it is highly unlikely to happen where you live. The Japanese built these plants for an 8.0, unfortunately a 9.0 happened and guess what, every one of the plants were just fine being provided with power from backup generators that WERE keeping up, until the WALL of water hit the site! Once again, those without a clue should not open their mouth and prove their ignorance.

  • wedgeb

    Germany just announced that they will shut down all their nukes built before 1980. Pilgrim was built in 1972 and those in Japan the year before… shouldn’t this tell us something?

  • emom

    PILGRIM COOLED BY AIR ahhh whered so scr*wed, what cools the darn air,, huh,, really AIR cooling the power plant, and what plant pray tell have some just come from, planted I think I know,, its alwasys been cooled by sea water, because the water evaporates and then they add more. really high schoolers know that , OH WAIT I see it must have been the college grads thatcame up with air cooled… the eco freaks. yeah, I would not want to be near your power plant. air can heat to fast. REALLYYY air, ok the clouds have so clouded your minds./….

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