Letter to the Editor: Response to Entergy’s “Your View” column in OCM
Update: Three more letters have been published within the last week in response to Noye’s letter about Meg’s tidelands article:
(Sept 5, 2014) Entergy’s article, “YOUR VIEW: Recent column disservice to readers” by Dave Noyes
(August 15, 2014) Original article, “OF NUCLEAR INTEREST: Pilgrim Nuclear and the public’s rights to the shoreline” by Meg Sheehan
(Sept 8, 2014) From the author: I am responding to Entergy’s Sept. 3, 2014 “Your View” column entitled, “Recent column disservice to readers” by Dave Noyes who was responding to my Your View column about Pilgrim’s pollution. Entergy’s article is fantastical fluff and itself devoid of facts. The facts in my article are straight from public records and based on the research of many volunteers, including myself. Here are a few reasons why Entergy’s article is pure fantasy.
1. The hot industrial cooling water Pilgrim dumps in to Cape Cod Bay is polluted. As Noyes should know since he’s in regulatory affairs at Pilgrim, the Clean Water Act law defines “pollution” to include “thermal pollution” –yes, “thermal pollution” means “hot water”! How hot? In June, 2014, the daily temperature of the water Pilgrim dumped averaged 95.7 degrees. On June 17 when Entergy shocked the system with chlorine to kill macroinvertabrates like mussels the average was 106.7 degrees.
2. Pilgrim’s own records report dumping chemicals and radioactive materials into the Bay. This includes tolytriazole, a corrosion inhibitor, chlorine used to kill macroinvertebrates, and sodium pentaborate. Deadly radiological materials are “diluted” into the industrial process water so the levels of radioactivity are just below the legal limits.
3. The “strict” regulators are asleep. Noyes claims Pilgrim’s chemical pollution is “strictly regulated.” As he knows, Pilgrim’s Clean Water Act outdated permit-to-pollute Cape Cod Bay expired in 18 years ago in 1996. In other words, those “strict” regulators just haven’t gotten around to it. And, Entergy is claiming to U.S. EPA that modern pollution controls are too expensive so the permit shouldn’t be changed.
4. “Pollution monitoring” – so what? Noyes says Entergy does “extensive” pollution monitoring. It’s not “extensive” but even if it is, even though the results show contamination, regulators are not requiring clean up. In January 2012 when I began researching Entergy’s pollution, I went to the U.S. EPA to look at public records. I found months of Entergy’s monitoring reports in sealed envelopes: EPA had not even opened them. What good are those monitoring reports when no one looks at them or requires clean up?
5. Leak now – maybe we’ll fix it, some day. Entergy’s reports show that since at least 2006, Pilgrim has been leaking radioactive materials into the Plymouth Sole Source Aquifer – our groundwater. These are unpermitted discharges of contamination to our environment. As Noyes says, its all posted on the state Department of Public Health website. Noyes cherry picks the surface water samples and asserts there’s no pollution. He ignores the hundreds of samples showing levels of tritium and other radioactive materials that are above background levels. Experts say there is no safe level for these materials-yet the leaks continue.
I’m not attacking Noyes personally, like he did me. Rather, I figure Entergy’s public relations team wrote the column for him. But those PR folks are trying to fool us all. They are trying to perpetuate the 1960s fantasy of the “safe” nuclear reactor that they sold our Town 45 years ago when Pilgrim was built. Today’s reality is that Pilgrim is too old, leaking, polluting and living on borrowed time. A PR makeover can’t change that.
Meg Sheehan is a public interest attorney and native of Plymouth, Massachusetts. She’s a long time advocate for clean water and healthy ecoystems.