WASHINGTON — The Nuclear Regulatory Commission cleared the way Wednesday for the $5.7-billion Seabrook, N. H., plant to be licensed for low-power testing and ruled that the Pilgrim reactor in Massachusetts, shut down for almost three years, may resume operations.
Massachusetts Gov. Michael S. Dukakis called the decisions irrational and irresponsible. He filed a suit asking the federal appeals court in Boston to block the restarting of the Pilgrim plant.
Lando W. Zech Jr., the commission chairman, said Seabrook could get its low-power license, which permits testing at 5% power, as early as Jan. 6 if it can set aside $72.1 million to cover decommissioning costs in case Seabrook never qualifies for a full-power commercial license.
Seabrook cannot receive the license, which it has sought for more than two years, until the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board rules on Massachusetts' request for a review of alleged problems during a practice exercise of emergency procedures.
The NRC rejected a request for a review of the financial qualifications of the Seabrook owners. The principal owner, Public Service Co. of New Hampshire, sought bankruptcy reorganization in January.
The commission's vote for restarting the Pilgrim plant, shut down since April, 1986, because of management and safety problems, also was unanimous.
Zech said the commission was convinced that an estimated $35 million in safety improvements and Boston Edison Co.'s overhauling of plant management have made the 16-year-old facility ready to resume operations.
Dukakis leads a legion of critics who point to a 1987 report of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which said contingency plans for evacuation of the suburbs around Pilgrim were inadequate.