Massachusetts Attorney General Andrea Campbell has settled a lawsuit against Holtec, the company charged with decommissioning the Pilgrim nuclear power plant, accusing the company of improperly disposing of asbestos.

The complaint, filed in Suffolk Superior Court, contended that Holtec didn’t properly handle waste that contained asbestos and endangered the company’s employees as well as the environment.  

Under the settlement agreement, Holtec is to pay a fine of about $200,000, but does not admit fault or liability, according to Holtec spokesperson Patrick O’Brien said.

A spokesperson for Campbell did not respond to a request for comment.

The complaint involved the demolition of a water tower in 2021 that had been used for fire suppression at the Plymouth plant. The tower was painted with a coating that contained asbestos. The complaint alleged that Holtec failed to secure and remove the asbestos before beginning demolition of anearby building, of failing to notify the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection prior to abatement of asbestos, and of failing to obtain the necessary permits for the work.

The state alleged that Holtec stored paint chips from the water tower in ripped and open trash bags in a warehouse on the property called the Butler Building, and then transported the paint chips to a Middleborough recycling facility that was not approved for handling special waste. Middleborough then transferred the three trailers of waste to Schnitzer Steel, a scrap metal facility in Everett, according to the complaint.   

The complaint also alleged that in 2022, Holtec’s asbestos inspector failed to recognize that partition walls in the operations and maintenance warehouse on the site contained asbestos before the warehouse was demolished. Asbestos is a hazardous material and a known carcinogen.

The complaint went on to claim that in 2023, when Holtec was repairing a leaky pipe and gasket in the reactor building, the company failed to check for asbestos in the pipe and gasket.

The attorney general sought civil penalties from Holtec for polluting the atmosphere under a part of Massachusetts’s Public Health Law known as the Air Act.

“We continue to focus on a safe, efficient decommissioning of Pilgrim Station,” O’Brien said in a statement. “We meet regularly with Mass. DEP on our work containing asbestos and ensuring compliance with regulations. We maintain contracts with licensed site professionals and hygienists to ensure compliance. We work closely to identify and follow the process ahead of any remediation work and stop and report any material that is found unexpectedly during work evolutions. We look forward to continuing to make progress on the safe dismantlement of the facility.”

Fred Thys can be reached at

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