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Pilgrim Nuclear Plant Unaffected by Reagan Order

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Washington--President Reagan's Nov. 11 executive order allowing nuclear power plants to receive operating licenses without local approval of their emergency-evacuation plans will not affect the operations of the controversial Pilgrim plant in Plymouth, Mass.

The order authorizes federal authorities to help prepare emergency evacuation plans when state and local officials refuse to cooperate with utility officials.

Although state officials in Massachusetts and most local authorities have agreed to cooperate with Boston Edison, the owner of Pilgrim, educators have been divided on the issue. (See Education Week, Oct. 5, 1988.)

Some area educators object to current plans because they believe they would be ineffective during a nuclear emergency. Others have publicly stated that they should not be counted on if there is such an emergency.

Since 1981, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has required all plants seeking an operating license to have a plan for evacuating a 10-mile area around the facility in the case of a nuclear emergency.

Plants like Pilgrim, which were licensed before 1981, are allowed to continue operating with incomplete plans and are not affected by the executive order.

Officials in the nuclear-power industry had been calling for a move similar to the executive order since the early 1980's, when state and local officials refused to take part in the evacuation plans for the Shoreham plant on Long Island and for a second plant in Seabrook, N.H.

Of the 75 commercial plants that are now in operation or under construction, 51 have approved evacuation plans. Twenty-four plants, including Pilgrim, have interim approval to operate, even though they have incomplete plans.--ef

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