Congressman William Keating contacted Entergy on behalf of the Town of Duxbury to ask why towns not in Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station’s Emergency Planning Zone (EPZ) have traditionally received more emergency management funds.

“We’re looking at EPZ towns and the host communities,” said Keating. “It seems to me that host communities are getting more funds than Duxbury. If you’re in an emergency zone, it seems to me you’d get more money.” Duxbury and Entergy have been in negotiations over Entergy’s funding of the town’s Radiological Emergency Response Funding (RERP) since May 2010. The most recent round of funding expired, leading to the layoff of two part-time employees in February. According to Kevin Nord, Duxbury’s Emergency Management Agency Director and Fire Chief, Entergy committed to $186,000 in disaster training last year, but that figure was revised by a newly-hired Entergy employee who offered the town two options: $100,000 and $15,000 in training or $68,500 in grants and an offer by Pilgrim to pay for training and equipment reimbursements. Nearby host communities, such as Bridgewater, Taunton and Braintree, receive $112,000 plus equipment and training. As host communities, they would provide shelter in the event of a catastrophic episode at Pilgrim that would warrant an evacuation of residents within evacuation zones.

“One of the things that’s helpful in my position is that people will talk to me, like the Assistant Secretary of Energy,” said Keating. “I think there’s a legitimate issue with being a host community versus an EZP community. When you look at the figures, we’re certainly making the case that Duxbury should be viewed as Plymouth and other such communities.”

This was welcome news to Duxbury Town Manager Richard MacDonald. He said a member of Cong. Keating’s staff contacted both him and Chief Nord last week.

“I was pleased the Congressman requested the funds that Entergy should have allotted to the Town of Duxbury,” said MacDonald. “I’m glad the Congressman agreed to intervene and I look forward to hearing more.”

Nord, who has been working on this issue since 2010, agreed with MacDonald.

“I’m cautiously optimistic,” said Nord. “I think it’s great he intervened and hope something comes of it.”

When asked about the record-breaking seven year Nuclear Regulatory Commissions’ (NRC) relicensing hearings for Pilgrim, Keating said it’s an issue he’s becoming familiar with in his first term as Congressman and is actively seeking more information from all parties involved. He closely followed the Global Nuclear Summit that took place in Seoul, South Korea last week and sought out Dr. Peter Lyons, the U.S. Asst. Secretary for Nuclear Energy to have a conversation about the issues facing both Duxbury and the world with regard to nuclear energy. Keating said the fact that the U.S. government has oversight when it comes to nuclear energy provides a system of checks and balances, unlike in Japan where the industry has oversight. Japan experienced the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl when its Fukushima melted down after and earthquake and tsunami in 2011.

“The role of the industry and the superceding role of the government in Japan are different than here,” said Keating. “These are big issues because if you don’t have the separation, it can create dangerous situations.”

When asked if there’s a similar concern about NRC commissioners, concerns Keating’s Massachusetts colleague Cong. Ed Markey outlined in a March 14 letter to NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko about the relicensing of Vermont’s Yankee and NRC inspectors’ commitment to the process, Keating said he has confidence in the NRC’s oversight of Pilgrim’s relicensing.

Said Keating, “It’s certainly been deliberate and I would say diligent.”