Our Environment

Polluting the Bay and Damaging Our Ecosystem

Cape Cod Bay

For 40 years, Pilgrim’s once-through “cooling water intake structure” (CWIS) has used over a half-billion gallons per day of sea water from Cape Cod Bay – for free – then dumping it back in the Bay about 32 degrees hotter and polluted with toxic chemicals and radioactive materials. This cooling water system is outdated: better technology is being used at other power stations.

Pilgrim has used the equivalent of the entire volume of Cape Cod Bay over the last four decades for cooling, drawing in and killing about a million fish and billions of plankton, fish eggs, larvae, and other marine life. This is a far greater impact than was projected in pre-permitting studies in 1970 that led to the licensing of Pilgrim in the first place.

In 2006, Entergy sued MassDEP to avoid new water pollution regulations. In 2011, the Supreme Judicial Court upheld the new regs, saying, “The environmental impact of [CWIS] is staggering…destabilizing wildlife populations in the surrounding ecosystem. In areas with a designated use as aquatic habitat (such as Cape Cod Bay where Pilgrim’s CWIS operates), therefore, CWISs hinder the attainment of water quality standards.”

Violations by Entergy:

  • No state CWIS permit as required by 2006 regulations.
  • Discharge violations: Since at least 1995, discharging toxic corrosion inhibitors without a state or federal permit; chlorine discharge limit violations in 5 of last 12 quarters.
  • The joint EPA-DEP Clean Water Act “NPDES” permit expired 16 years ago; and although it has been “administratively extended” for 16 years, Entergy has violated its terms since 2000.
  • The Massachusetts “Section 401 certification” of the NPDES permit is outdated and invalid given unpermitted discharges of various pollutants and other violations.
  • Since about 2000, no approved “marine monitoring plan” as required by NPDES permit.
  • Since 2000, Entergy has refused to cooperate with the required technical advisory committee, which was set up as an “intergral part” of the NPDES permit. Entergy is not meeting its obligations: without compliance with this critical provision, the permit is meaningless.
  • Radioactive tritium is leaking into the groundwater which flows into Cape Cod Bay.
  • State 2006 coastal zone management “federal consistency certification” is invalid.

Feb 28, 2007: EPA Letter to NRC (PDF)
General Environmental Impact Statement for License Renewal of Nuclear Plants