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Pilgrim began operations in 1972 with defective fuel and without proper filtration equipment in place.

Poor management culminated in large off site releases in 1982 – Pilgrim blew its resin filters, saturated with radioactivity, into neighboring communities. Neighbors recall suited workers coming onto their private property to collect samples.

A meterology report was commissioned and it was, “…the concluding opinion of this paper that the meterology which affected the Massachusetts lowland microclimate greatly intensified the radiation problem within the area.” The report follows.



Meteorological Analysis of Radiation Releases For the Coastal Areas of The State of Massachusetts For June 3rd to June 20th 1982

By Professor William T. Land


June 3rd, 1982 and again on June 11th, releases of radiation were reported to have occurred from Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant located in Plymouth, Massachusetts. During the next seventeen days meteorological events kept the releases that were vented on shore and concentrated especially in the lowland areas within the 200 miles of the coast of Massachusetts.

A listing of probable causes resulting in radiation concentration within the microclimate would include (in order of importance):

1. ONSHORE WINDS: Winds from the east and north moving radiation back toward the land away from the coast.

2.  WIDESPREAD RAINFALL; Rain which could keep radiation in the lower stratosphere and washout radiation into the ecosystems, food chair and water supplies.

3.  COOL DESCENDING AIR; Air which would prohibit radiation from lifting into high altitude winds which would in turn carry the contaminants at the 18,000 foot level safely out to sea.

4.  AIR POLLUTION:  Pollution which would give added nuclei for radiation to adhere to thereby increasing its ability to stay at lower stratospheric levels.

5.  FOG:  Fog which would give additional hydroscopic nuclei for both pollution and radiation to coalesce upon.

6.  AIR STAGNATION:  Stagnation with little or no wind, haze and temperature inversions which in turn have the ability to trap radiation close to the surface.


In the best situation radiation releases would be quickly removed over land and away from centers of population. Meteorological mechanisms which would enhance air cleaning would include (in order of importance):

1.     STRONG SURFACE LAND BREEZES:  Breezes which would act as cleaning winds headed out to the open ocean.

2.      STRONG COLD FRONTS: Cold fronts or squall lines moving from the west or northwest causing radiation to be carried out to sea on powerful surface cleaning winds.

Unfortunately for the State of Massachusetts, the releases from the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant at Plymouth coincided with unfavorable meteorological conditions which created within the microclimate a worst-case situation. Because the 3rd and 20th of June there were very few hours of atmospheric cleaning, very little radiation could have entered the high altitude wind flow and most radiation  releases were concentrated inland near population centers.

The reporting stations in Nantucket some sixty miles ESE of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant and Boston some thirty-five miles NNW of the power plant centered between the two reporting stations. Each wind flow that crossed this line headed inland would move radiation toward population centers.  During the seventeen day period thirty-four wind directions were measured and 76.5% were from the ocean inland. The remaining 23.5% only averaged from five to seven knots of wind speed.  Also these winds were concentrated in the period of June 16th to June 18th.  Taking only the wind directions from June 4th through June 15th the eleven day period produced 95.5% of the winds from the ocean inland.

The second variable looked at during period June 3rd to the 20th was rainfall. Massachusetts during this time had rain in very significant widespread and heavy amounts six of the seventeen days. These rains produced during the month historically recorded amounts, some 4.6 times the normal mean for the recording station at Boston. These records contributed to the entire monthly report of 200% above normal (see map).  The rains were the result of subtropical depressions moving slowly from the south up the Atlantic seaboard.  During the first week alone on June 5th and 6th Boston received a record 8.88 inches of rain.  With rainfall of this significance the radiation releases of June 3rd quickly entered all areas of the Massachusetts ecosystem. The storm of June 5th and 6th was not of the convective thunderstorm type with cumulus clouds reaching up to 50,000 feet which has been suspect in contributing to the descent

Of old fallout.  It is impossible for the EPA* (*should be PNPS Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station) to claim that extra radiation left over from Chinese nuclear weapons testing in the 1970’s.  Had the EPA* (*should be PNPS Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station) been correct, the state of Connecticut would have been the most severely impacted since it received up to eleven inches of rain from the same storm with well documented severe damage.

         The third variable studied was temperature.  The period June 3rd through the 20th can only be described as a cool period contributing significantly to a record for the whole month which averaged minus four degrees F.  With this cool temperature in mind any chance that a heat wave could have contributed to either atmospheric buoyancy or general health problems has been discussed (see map).

         To conclude this report all six factors mentioned in the start of the paper play a role in concentrating the radiation releases were operative.  However, special attention should be placed on the significant rainstorm of June 5th through the 6th which followed the releases reported on June 3rd and also the rainstorm of June 11th, 13th and 14th which followed the reported releases of June 11th.  It is the concluding opinion of this paper that the meterology which affected the Massachusetts lowland microclimate greatly intensified the radiation problem within the area. 





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