Pilgrim sewage study commission included as part of Massachusetts’ $3.8 billion aid bill

PLYMOUTH — A proposal initiated by State Senator Susan Moran, D-Falmouth, to increase wastewater monitoring at the closed Pilgrim Nuclear Generating Station has been included in a 3.8 economic and development relief package billion approved on Thursday, November 3.

Looking backStudy and Delay: New Legislation Aims to Slow Pilgrim’s Holtec Plant Disposal Plans

The bill, which is expected to receive Governor Charlie Baker’s approval, allows for the creation of a special commission to study the economic and environmental impacts of a proposal by factory owner Holtec Decommissioning International to reject the 1 .1 million gallons of wastewater left at the plant. in Cape Cod Bay.

State Senator Susan Moran was successful in her effort to create a commission to study the effects of any sewage discharge onto Cape Cod Bay from the non-operating Pilgrim Nuclear Generating Station.

“I won’t stand aside while Holtec puts profits on communities, and I’m grateful the Legislative Assembly doesn’t either,” Moran said.

Holtec first floated the idea a year ago this month. The company said the water would be treated and tested before being released in multiple batches over an indefinite period.

The proposal drew immediate and widespread outcry from members of the public, as well as federal, state and local officials, who questioned the effect it would have on local fishing, tourism and real estate, whether the harm is real or perceived. . Holtec is committed to zero waste for at least the rest of the year.

Audience reactionNo decision has been made on the disposal of sewage from the closed Pilgrim nuclear power plant

The commission is to write a report on its findings and recommendations by November 2024. It is scheduled to hold four public hearings, one in Dukes, Plymouth, Bristol and Barnstable counties. Discharge of water from the spent fuel pool would be prohibited until 90 days after the report is completed.

“A large part of our economy and our local identity is linked to the ocean. We need a comprehensive understanding of the impacts any water spills will have, and this study will provide greater transparency before any action is taken by Holtec,” Moran said.

The company has options for disposing of the water, each of which the company claims would cost more than disposal. Other options include evaporating the water, storing it indefinitely on site, shipping it to an out-of-state storage location, or, as the company noted, a combination of these.

State Senator Susan Moran, D-Falmouth, speaking at the final meeting of the Citizens Advisory Group on Nuclear Decommissioning in Plymouth

In addition to water quality concerns, entities such as the EPA and the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office have stated that Holtec is not permitted to discharge water, no matter how clean, under its current federal and state permits and agreements.

AfterEPA Rejects Holtec Pilgrim Plant Wastewater Discharge Plan, See Why They Disagree

Moran testified before the Congressional Subcommittee on Air Quality, Climate, and Nuclear Security, chaired by Sen. Ed Markey, D-Massachusetts, and Rep. Bill Keating, D-9e, in a rare court hearing held at Plymouth Town Hall last spring. At this hearing, Markey and Keating obtained a commitment from Holtec to subject the water in the spent fuel pool to third-party testing.

After:Holtec pledges not to discharge water from the Pilgrim plant until third-party testing proves OK

The Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant was purchased by Holtec International shortly after the plant closed in 2019. The company is currently working to decommission the site.  (Photo: Holtec)

A company representative stated that Holtec would have sample results on non-radiological waste in water, EPA-regulated pollutants (all nuclear-related thresholds are determined and regulated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission ), by the upcoming Citizens’ Advisory Group on Nuclear Decommissioning. (NDCAP) November 28 meeting. A historical average of radioactive material in water tested and treated in the past will also be presented at that time.

“We need full transparency and public input during this process,” Moran said.

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