Radioactive Waste
   Structural Issues
   Emergency Planning
   Energy Alternatives

   Take Action!



Radioactive Releases from Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station

No Safe Dose of Radiation.
Radiation exposure can cause cell death, genetic mutations, cancers, birth defects, and reproductive, immune and endocrine system disorders.  More

Permissible Releases Do Not Mean Safe. Government regulations allow “permissible” levels of contamination. However, since there is no safe threshold to exposure to radiation, permissible does not mean safe.  NRC’s allowable radioactive release dose from a nuclear reactor to members of the public is 100 millirem per year to the total body. The National Academy of Sciences Biological Effects of Radiation (BEIR VII) Report published June 2005 reported that the lifetime fatal cancer risk for 100 mrem/yr is (1) in (175) and the cancer incidence risk is (1) in (100). Pilgrim claims to release a tiny fraction of the permissible dose; if true, why does industry fight changing the standard to a far lower number to better protect public health? 

Radioactive Releases Occur Routinely.  It doesn’t take an accident at Pilgrim to release radioactivity into our air, water, and soil. As a matter of routine operation, radiation is released from Pilgrim in the form of liquid, gaseous, and solid radioactive wastes. Solid radioactive wastes include anything from laundry (considered low-level waste) to spent fuel rods (considered high-level waste.)

Radioactivity released includes over 100 different isotopes only produced in reactors and atomic bombs, including Strontium-89, Strontium-90, Cesium-137, and Iodine-131. Humans ingest them either by inhalation or ingestion, through food.

Each radionuclide seeks different parts of the human body; iodine seeks out the thyroid gland, strontium clumps to the bone and teeth (like calcium), and cesium is distributed throughout the soft tissues. All are carcinogenic. Each decays at varying rates; for example, iodine-131 has a half-life of eight days, and remains in the body only a few weeks. Strontium-90 has a half-life of 28.7 years, and thus remains in bone and teeth for many years.

These radionuclides are different from “background” radiation found in nature in cosmic rays and the earth's surface. Background radiation, while still harmful, does not specifically attack the thyroid gland, bones, or other organs.  More

Accidents Can Happen/Releases Have Been High. For example, we know that Pilgrim had extremely high emissions due to defective fuel, mechanical problems and lack of filtration. These problems culminated in June 1982 when Pilgrim blew its filters and released contaminated resin material into our neighborhoods. The licensee’s own Environmental Radiation Reports for 1982 showed for example, Cesium -137, (1,000,000) times higher than expected in milk tested at the indicator sampling farm 12 miles west of the reactor and no elevation at the control station, 22 miles away; Cesium-137 again (1,000,000) higher in vegetation samples from indicator farms .7 miles and 1.5 miles from the reactor. Elevated releases have been reported in subsequent years. Typically the licensee has blamed the increase on “atmosphere fallout” that ignores a critical fact – no similar increases were experienced at the control stations. How fallout, like a smart bomb, was able to find Pilgrim’s indicator locations while simultaneously missing the control stations is beyond comprehension.

As you will read below, higher off site radiation detected is now “explained away” or hidden from the public by: not only continuing to blame nuclear weapons testing; but by locating many “control stations” very close to the reactor, in Duxbury and Kingston Bays and Plymouth Harbor – really, we know that they are indicator stations. More


Pilgrim’s Environmental Radiation Reports 

Licensee Charged With Tracking Their Own Releases. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission relies upon self-reporting and computer modeling from reactor operators to track radioactive releases and their projected dispersion. A significant portion of the environmental monitoring data is extrapolated – virtual, not real. What is put into the computer model, assumptions, will effect the answer that comes out

Radioactive Releases Are NOT Fully Accounted For by the Licensee. Radioactive releases from Pilgrim’s routine operation often are not fully detected or reported. Accidental releases may not be completely verified or documented. 

Finding Effluent Reports

Effluent reports on the web