Environmental Impact


   Radioactive Waste
   Structural Issues
   Emergency Planning
   Energy Alternatives

   Take Action!






Radioactive Releases Occur Routinely.  It doesn’t take an accident at Pilgrim in order for radioactivity to be released into our air, water, and soil. Radioactivity is released into our air and water on a routine, daily basis. Some of the radionuclides persist in the environment for a long period of time and are highly toxic.  Those that are deposited on the vegetation and marine life, move up the food chain and eventually humans ingest them through food; others deposited on land become re-suspended (wind, burrowing animals, construction) and then can be inhaled. During Pilgrim's early years of operations large releases occurred. For example, Pilgrim opened with defective fuel and without their Augmented Off-gas System filtration system in place; and in 1982 they blew their filters blowing considerable radiation into our neighborhoods. For more, see Emissions

Climate: Global warming impacts are felt now and expected to increase. Pilgrim is located on a coastline subject to increasingly severe storms and erosion. Scientists report that a big earthquake could hit Massachusetts at any time. Given these climate events, Rocky Hill Road, Plymouth is a very poor location for a nuclear reactor and storage of highly toxic radioactive waste. More

Monitoring: Licensee Charged With Tracking Releases; Collecting Samples to Determine Environmental Impact. More

Marine life, Wildlife and Pets: A report on research of marine impact is attached. There is anecdotal evidence of cancers, tumors and disease in pets, wildlife and marine life near Pilgrim NPS; unfortunately there has not been any systematic research. Studies on wildlife would be valuable because they remain in the area during their lifetime (no commuting to Boston) and they do not "smoke" or partake in other risk behavior linked to health impacts. They could serve as "canaries in the coal mine."  As important, the area has a profitable fishing and aquaculture industry that is dependent upon a clean environment. Impact on birds is important, too. Duxbury/Plymouth Bay Complex is one of the state’s largest natural embayment – an important breeding area; the mudflats attract large numbers of migrating shorebirds. More

Once Through Cooling: Pilgrim, like all nuclear reactors, generates too much heat. To remove excess heat, they draw in 487,840,000 gallons of water a day from Cape Cod Bay. Along with the water, they suck in fish eggs and other microscopic organisms; larger fish get pulled in by the current too and become trapped on intake screens. The marine life that is drawn in gets pulverized by the reactor condenser system and emerges as sediment that clouds the water around the discharge area, often blocking light from the ocean floor. The sediment cloud results in killing plant and animal life by curtailing the light and oxygen needed to survive. The water that is drawn in cycles through and is then released at temperatures averaged over an hours time period of 30 degrees above Bay temperature (62F to 100F) – disrupting the ecosystem. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency wants Entergy to measure the water temperature discharged instantaneously recognizing that some discharges are 130 degrees or more - although the hourly average remains within limits. Entergy prefers the hourly average. Agreement has not been reached. Some organisms are attracted to the warmer environment. But when the reactor is abruptly shut down, water temperatures will drop causing cold-stunning, fatal to fish acclimated to warmer waters. 

NEW  MA Supreme Court- State may regulate water intake at nuclear plants (April 11, 2011)


Supreme Court, April 2009 Ruling: Why are existing nuclear reactors, like Pilgrim, not required to employ the “best technology available to minimize adverse environmental impact?” All new reactors, and other industries that take water from an adjacent water source for coolant, are required to use the best technology available. Indeed, it is possible to minimize adverse environmental impact by re-circulating the water by a closed cooling system - that is cooling towers or some other state-of-the art dry cooling. April 1, 2009, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Entergy Corp. V. Riverkeeper that cost-benefit analysis is not forbidden by the Clean Water Act provision governing cooling water intake structures, but also that EPA has the authority to decide not to engage in such analysis. The Court, therefore, left it to the Obama-Jackson EPA to decide whether and how to compare costs to benefits when it issues a new regulation for what is the best technology available for minimizing adverse environmental impacts of cooling water intake structures for existing power plants.  More

Water Discharge Permit: Pilgrim is supposed to be issued a water discharge permit every five years. It is issued by EPA and reviewed by DEP. A new permit was scheduled to be issued in the fall, 2004. It has not been re-issued. The Permit number is MA 0003557. More

License Renewal: NUREG-1437, "Generic Environmental Impact Statement for License Renewal of Nuclear Plants," Final Supplement 29, regarding Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station Final Report, was published July 2007. The NRC staff concluded that cumulative impacts of Pilgrim license renewal would be SMALL for most potentially affected resources, with the exception of the local winter flounder population and Jones River population of rainbow smelt, for which impacts would be MODERATE. More


Report:  Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station: review of intake and discharge effects to finfish - Technical Memorandum For The Record, Gerald M. Szal [Department Environmental Protection, MA.], August 30, 2005. More

Licensed to Kill: How the nuclear power industry destroys endangered marine wildlife and ocean habitat to save money http://www.nirs.org/licensedtokill/Licensedtokillintropage.htm 

Riverkeeper http://www.riverkeeper.org/ 


More About Pilgrim's Environmental Impact