Pilgrim’s 40-year license to operate expires on June 8, 2012; and despite its age, failed design, and unresolved safety and environmental issues, there is concerted pressure to rubber-stamp Entergy’s application to extend its license another 20 years, to 2032.
We believe that the license extension should be postponed until the lessons learned from Fukushima are fixed and all the unresolved safety and environmental issues are fully examined in hearings before the Atomic Safety Licensing Board.
Pilgrim is a carbon copy of the Fukushima reactors and could easily fail for the same fundamental reasons: loss of electrical power, serious design flaws, and human error.
Further, Pilgrim is an “antique.” It was designed and built when the Ed Sullivan Show introduced the Beatles to America. The risks for catastrophe change as reactors age, just as the risk for accident and death due for people as they get older. How many household appliances or cars do you use that are over 40 years old?
An accident can destroy not only “America’s Hometown,” but the entire region, just like in Japan; but unlike the spread of dangerous radiation in a disaster, emergency plans to evacuate or shelter the population stops at 10 miles.
Additionally, the effects from daily operations need to be considered and mitigated, as required. Pilgrim emits radiation into our air and water daily. Allowable releases have not been lowered to match today’s scientific understanding of radiation’s harmful health effects, and offsite monitoring is insufficient to provide a reliable “Neighborhood Watch.”
Last, Pilgrim directly impacts our marine environment. It uses an outdated method to remove excess heat that it generates by drawing in over 500 million gallons of water daily from Cape Cod Bay, along with fish eggs and smaller fish. The water passes “once through” the reactor and back into the bay heated as a thermal plume, scalding our ecosystem. Unlike our fishermen, Pilgrim has an “unlimited fishing permit.” In addition, Pilgrim steam cleans the intake screens to keep mussels from clogging the works, spiking the temperature even higher. The net effect is harm to both our valuable marine economy and to our endangered species by depleting their food supply – this is not necessary. Technology exists to lessen the impact; like everyone else, Pilgrim should be required to employ the “best technology” available to minimize adverse environmental impact.
There is no reason to rush through the relicensing process. The NRC rules allow Pilgrim to operate on its original license until a decision is made on its application; there’s time to do it right.
Mary Lampert Pilgrim Watch →