Pilgrim nuclear plant will shut down permanently Friday

PLYMOUTH, Mass. — After nearly 50 years, the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth will shut down permanently Friday.

The plant, which has provided power for more than 600,000, will stop generating electricity and start the decommissioning process. That includes securing the radioactive fuel that is stored at the power plant.

"It’s very safe. We practice, we come in with simulation. We simulate shutdowns and startups any major evolution that goes on in a plant we simulate," control room supervisor Bob Sheridan said.

Sheridan has worked at the plant for 32 years.

"It’s as practice as can be to predict the equipment positions and actions so, basically you eliminate any uncertainties with what we’re about to go through at the plant," Sheridan said.

Inside this exact replica of Pilgrim's actual control room. The team practices on how to shut the plant down and prepares for any scenario or emergency.

"It’s a safe place to come up and train make sure the crews can handle any situation imaginable," training superintendent Paul Gresh said.

"I’m sad to see a nuclear power plant shut down. We’re shutting down early. We still had several more years left on the license," senior reactor operator Kelly Connerton said. "It’s actually a little upsetting to see all these nuclear power plants shut down early."

The plant, which overlooks Cape Cod Bay, is the second largest private employer in Plymouth with 580 workers. In June, that number will be cut in half. And next spring, only about 135 workers will remain on site. Many will retire.

"It’ll be a very strange setting, I think, but the operators themselves will behave like they’re trained to behave even though they may have some mixed emotions about what’s about to happen," Sheridan said.

For those workers who are not retiring, they have been offered transfers.

From start to finish, the decommissioning process could take up to 60 years and cost $1.6 billion.

MORE: Here's how you shut down a 47-year-old nuclear power station