March 12, Thursday     1:00 pm     MassDEP Southeast Regional Office, 20 Riverside Drive, Lakeville, MA 508-946-2700   sponsor:  Mass Department of Environmental Protection
Testimony may be presented orally or in writing at the public hearings.  Written comments also will be accepted until March. 23.  Written testimony must be submitted by email or mail to:
Department of Environmental Protection
Bureau of Waste Prevention
One Winter Street, 7th Floor
Boston, MA 02108
Attn: Will Space

Posted on    January 27, 2015  

Pilgrim shut down automatically at 4:05am Tuesday, January 27, 2015 after two transmission lines failed during Blizzard Juno around high tide – furthering concerns that the nuclear plant is seriously unprepared to weather the storm.

Posted on    January 11, 2015  

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In This Issue:

  • Another Reactor Closes, Punctuating New Reality for U.S. Nuclear Power
  • Pilgrim owner to begin moving radioactive fuel rods
  • Presentation: Living in the shadow of a nuclear power plant (Jan 29)
  • Public Hearing: DEP Clean Energy Standard (Feb 9 & 10)
  • Pilgrim to move spent fuel into dry cask storage
  • Opponents of emergency cooling system overflow Mayflower Meeting Room
  • Pilgrim Nuclear’s flawed FLEX plan
  • Opinion: Pilgrim Station’s Cyber Security Plan
  • Entergy wants to tap money for emergency response from Vermont Yankee decommissioning fund

Posted on    November 11, 2014  

PLYMOUTH, MA – Residents will get a chance to hear representatives from Entergy, the Louisiana based company which owns the Pilgrim nuclear station, explain its plan for a new emergency water cooling system on public tidelands at a hearing before the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) at 10 a.m., Tuesday, November 18, in the Mayflower Room at Plymouth Town Hall, 11 Lincoln Street. Entergy has applied to DEP for a license for an emergency cooling water system to be put on public tidelands.

Entergy’s proposal is in response to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s new requirements created after the 2011 nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan, which destroyed nuclear reactors the same vintage and model as the one at Pilgrim.

“Entergy’s plan to put moorings and a manual pulley in the protected tidelands is not a fix,” said Anna Baker of the Pilgrim Coalition, a network of organizations and residents who keep an eye on developments at Pilgrim. “There are many questions about whether this system is adequately designed to prevent a nuclear meltdown at Pilgrim and whether it meets the requirements for the state’s Chapter 91 tidelands license.”

According to members of Pilgrim Coalition, the state tidelands laws (General Laws, Chapter 91, and regulations at 310 CMR 9.00) protect the public’s rights in beach between the low tide and high tide mark and under Cape Cod Bay. A corporation that wants to use the tidelands for private purposes must provide mitigation, compensation, or an occupation fee to the public and the project must serve a “proper public purpose.”

Entergy’s proposal for the DEP license involves two moorings in the Bay that are used to control hoses and pumps to get water from Cape Cod Bay. The system would be operated by Entergy workers or the Plymouth Fire Department and will require them to be on the beach during an extreme weather event such as a hurricane. Resident Bill Maurer says “this contraption does not pass the straight face test for keeping us safe in the event of a catastrophic accident at Pilgrim. Moreover, Entergy has not shown how they are going to capture this water once it becomes contaminated, raising questions about the pollution of Cape Cod Bay.”

Many in the group, which sent DEP comments in July 2014 and requested the hearing, say Entergy’s application fails to adequately describe how the project will operate under various conditions, how long Entergy plans to keep the system in place, and does not serve a proper public purpose.

For more information:

Posted on    November 7, 2014  

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In This Issue:

  • Public Hearing on Entergy’s Waterways Application (11/18)
  • Voting results from this week’s election: Nuclear emergency zone has overwhelming support
  • Why residents need potassium iodide
  • 40-ton drops in Pilgrim’s fuel pool?
  • Citizens aim to close another regulatory loophole
  • NRC questions Vermont Yankee’s post-shutdown emergency plans
  • Jets scramble over Pilgrim and show that restricted air space is not protected
  • Fukushima, Miso Soup and Me
  • Volunteer opportunities to help the cause

Posted on    November 7, 2014  

Nuclear emergency zone has overwhelming support

Cape and Islands Senate District voters, which includes those in 12 Barnstable County towns, along with Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard, overwhelmingly endorsed the nonbinding referendum question to expand the emergency planning zone around the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station to include the Cape and Islands.

See more at:

Posted on    September 13, 2014      Meg Sheehan

Update: Three more letters have been published within the last week in response to Noye’s letter about Meg’s tidelands article:

(Sept 13,2014) We’re not worth it
(Sept 13, 2014) The undeniable truth
(Sept 12, 2014) Where Mr. Noyes lost me

(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.

Posted on    September 12, 2014      Meg Sheehan    Wicked Local

The Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth is storing more than 40 years worth of lethal radioactive waste in a “short term” storage pool built in 1974. Pilgrim is owned by Louisiana-based Entergy Corporation, the second largest power producer in the U.S. In order to keep running Pilgrim, in 2012 Entergy started building a new storage facility for the nuclear waste. Before construction, Entergy failed to apply for zoning approval from the town of Plymouth for the new, long-term nuclear waste storage facility. Once this failure was exposed by local residents, a permit was issued but the residents claim it violates local zoning.

Plymouth has a comprehensive system of zoning for land uses throughout the town. Zoning is a way for a community to ensure that land uses are conducted in a way that does not harm public health, safety and welfare, including the value of real estate. This way, local communities retain and exercise control over development and other activities carried out within their borders. Plymouth’s zoning laws are carefully crafted and are intended to ensure that large developments and industrial uses are allowed only under certain conditions set forth in the zoning law’s “special permit” provisions. The special permit laws give the public the right to participate in the zoning process by requiring a public hearing and the opportunity for zoning officials to impose conditions on the proposed use.

Local residents claim that Entergy’s new nuclear waste storage facility needs a “special permit” under Plymouth’s zoning laws. They claim that the 2013 decision by the building inspector to issue a zoning permit “as of right” without a special permit was wrong. When the citizens’ appeal of that permit to the Zoning Board of Appeals was rejected, they went to court. The goal of the citizens’ lawsuit over Entergy’s nuclear waste storage facility is not to stop the project. Instead, they say Entergy should apply for a special permit, which would result in a better project. They say the public and local officials should have the chance to thoroughly review the plans, including siting plans, and a public hearing should be held. The special-permit process requires the Zoning Board of Appeals to impose conditions to protect public health, safety and welfare, and gives the public a chance to suggest conditions that the Zoning Board of Appeals may adopt.

Entergy asked the court to dismiss the citizen lawsuit, claiming the 18 local residents who are plaintiffs did not have standing. That is, Entergy said the plaintiffs did not make an adequate claim that they would be harmed by the project, so the case should be dismissed. On Aug. 14, the Land Court judge rejected Entergy’s attempt to dismiss the entire case. The court found that Entergy’s nuclear waste storage facility may harm the economic value of those citizen plaintiffs residing within two miles of Pilgrim. This means these plaintiffs now proceed to trial on this and other issues.

Pilgrim’s nuclear waste has nowhere to go but Plymouth. It is likely to remain here forever. While this problem may seem too big to comprehend, enforcing local zoning laws meant to protect our health, safety and welfare is an important tool for local residents to use. Local laws, enforced by local officials for the benefit of local communities, give Plymouth the power and control it deserves in this situation.

Meg Sheehan is a public interest attorney who grew up in Plymouth. She is co-counsel on the zoning appeal lawsuit.

Posted on    September 5, 2014      Frank Mand,    Wicked Local Plymouth

PLYMOUTH – When the Zoning Board of Appeals ruled last year that Entergy – the owners of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station – didn’t need a special permit to begin construction of a dry cask storage facility on the plant’s Manomet grounds, 18 residents appealed that decision to the state’s Land Court.

More than a year later, after a series of motions, the case is proceeding.

Most recently, the court issued an order “allowing in part and denying in part” Entergy’s motion to dismiss the entire case by summary judgment “for lack of standing.”

The court determined that 11 of the 18 plaintiffs originally named in the case – those residing within two miles of the plant – had standing based on the loss of property value that will result from the construction of the storage facility and the continued operation of the plant.” Because of that ruling, the court is now expected to hear arguments on the merits of the case – whether existing regulations require that Entergy should have obtained a special permit in the first place.

Meanwhile, Entergy has moved ahead at its own risk. It has spent a considerable sum on construction of the dry cask storage project.

In the past few weeks Entergy has even notified the presiding judge – as part of the court’s conditions – that it could begin transferring nuclear waste from the spent fuel pool to dry cask storage units within the next 90 days.

If Entergy were to lose the case and the conditions originally under discussion by the plaintiffs and others were made part of a special permit, it could face very expensive modifications to its dry cask storage project.

Asked to comment on the court’s ruling and whether it is taking a $140 million risk (the initial cost estimate for the site work and concrete pad required for dry cask storage), Entergy officials expressed confidence in the ultimate decision of the courts.

“Entergy is currently finalizing construction of elements of the fuel transfer facility at Pilgrim as well as performing dry runs to demonstrate proficiency to our federal regulator,” Entergy Corporation’s Patricia Kakridas told the Old Colony. “We expect to proceed as planned on schedule later this year after final approvals are received.”

Speaking for the plaintiffs, Earthrise Advisory Council member Meg Sheehan interpreted Entergy’s actions as “further reflection of the attitude that they can do whatever the want.

“I would say that since the beginning Entergy has flouted the town laws,” Sheehan added, “moving ahead without any permits whatsoever, and only obtaining a building permit when a citizen’s group raised the issue.”

If the plaintiffs win in court, Sheehan said, they would look to see the plans go back to the drawing board.

“They would have to apply for a special permit, there would be a public hearing on that application, and the public could ask for certain conditions to be imposed,” she said.

Sheehan referenced the Union of Concerned Scientists, which has established a number of conditions it says all dry cask storage facilities should include: a covering or roof over the units, to protect them from snow and other weather conditions and ensure the free circulation of air; the real-time monitoring of radiation levels; a shield that would protect the units from terrorist attacks; and dispersal of the units to eliminate what Sheehan referred to as “candlepin bowling for terrorists.”

Sheehan also noted that the final location of the units should take into consideration climate change and its possibly effect on sea level. Kakridas didn’t seem worried.

“Dry cask storage is the state of the art solution for the interim-term storage of spent nuclear fuel until the federal government fulfills its obligation to provide a permanent repository,” Kakridas said. “It has been safely implemented at dozens of other plants and regulated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. We are confident that the process of dry storage of used fuel will ultimately proceed at Pilgrim.”

Posted on    August 31, 2014  

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In This Issue:

  • TOMORROW, Sept 1: Labor Day Rally at Sagamore Bridge
  • Facing Our Nuclear Responsibilities on September 20
  • PC will join the People’s Climate March on September 21. We hope you will, too.
  • Pilgrim neighbors in Plymouth argue nuclear plant depresses property values
  • Cape and Island voters will have say about emergency planning in November election
  • Pilgrim nuclear plant working at diminishing power
  • Volunteer opportunities to help the cause!

Posted on    May 30, 2014      Cape Downwinders

On May 1, 2014, the NRC had a public meeting to show the public that it is riding Entergy to improve procedures and infrastructure at the 42 year-old nuclear reactor. Many from the public made comments, and not a single comment expressed confidence with Entergy or the NRC. Frank Mand’s news report of the event is here.

Part 1 of this 3 part video of the NRC’s meeting in Plymouth, MA is a presentation by NRC & Entergy. Part 2 & Part 3 (below) are public comments & questions. Each part is approximately 50 min. in length. Video by Maxine Wolfset.

Public Comments

Public Comments, continued

Posted on    May 13, 2014      Christine Legere    Cape Cod Times

PLYMOUTH – Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station officials are powering down the reactor to do some repairs, a spokesman for the plant announced tonight.

“After careful consideration we made the conservative decision to take Pilgrim off-line to perform necessary maintenance to address low-level equipment needs that could potentially challenge reliability for the remainder of the operating cycle,” spokeswoman Joyce McMahon said in an email. The timing of the outage had been planned in advance after a discussion with grid operator ISO-New England.

“Pilgrim’s power is vital to the grid,” McMahon said. “ISO-NE asked us to schedule maintenance at this time so Pilgrim can provide power during other power plants’ scheduled maintenance outages as well as during the coming peak summer demand.”

Maintenance will be done on piping, valves, pump seals and electrical equipment. “This maintenance will directly support increased reliability for the rest of our operating cycle, which ends with the next scheduled refueling in mid-2015,” McMahon said.

Posted on    May 7, 2014      Frank Mand, OCM    Wicked Local

PLYMOUTH – Last Thursday night, in a windowless basement conference room of the Radisson Hotel, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), Pilgrim-owner Entergy and a variety of anti-nuclear and environmental groups continued their debate on the safety of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant.

The specific motivation for this gathering was the NRC’s annual performance review of the plant’s operation.

Last year, 2013, was from any perspective a bad year for the plant. Several sudden shut downs of the reactor, including two federal regulators deemed “scrams with complications” and two other instances when the plant experienced an unplanned scram, resulted in the NRC placing the plant in the “Degraded Cornerstone” category of the NRC’s action matrix.

There were also more than a dozen lesser events at the plant in 2013, when non-critical equipment failed to work properly.

Of all of the commercial nuclear plants operating in the U.S., NRC District 1 Regional Administrator Bill Dean noted, 84 are in the “licensee response” category. That’s good.

Below that, facing additional scrutiny by the NRC, 10 plants are in the NRC’s doghouse, a category known as “regulatory response.”

And just eight plants fall into the “degraded cornerstone” category or worse – including Pilgrim.

It is often difficult to tell if and to what degree the NRC is unhappy with a plant operator. The agency is known for using obscure terms like “action matrix,” “degraded cornerstone,” “performance indicators” and color-coded ratings where white is bad and green is good.

So, Pilgrim Senior Resident Inspector Stephen “Max” Schneider, an NRC employee, made an attempt to cut through the jargon.

“These are not just numbers,” Schneider said, “these are indicators of the potential for what may be underlying issues.”

That may be as close as the NRC has ever come to calling Pilgrim dangerous. Remarkably, Thursday night’s meeting may have been the closest Entergy has ever come to agreeing.

When it was the company’s turn to explain its 2013 performance, plant officials didn’t argue with anything the NRC said. Instead, they offered a multifaceted plan for a “return to excellence.”

The three pillars of their plan, Pilgrim Site Vice President John Dent said, are leadership excellence, equipment performance excellence and excellence in performance improvement.

The clear inference is that in 2013 Entergy acknowledges there was no such level of excellence at Pilgrim – the perhaps the closest Entergy and its critics have come to agreement for quite some time.

But when it was their turn to comment, the plant’s critics did not go easy, on Pilgrim or the NRC. Keep reading (Wicked Local)

Posted on    April 25, 2014      Mary Lampert, Pilgrim Watch    OCM/Wicked Local

Industries that can harm the public have “tobacco scientists” and lobbyists to promote their message. The Pilgrim nuclear plant is no exception, and denies the pattern of radiation-linked cancers and disease around it.

Industries that can harm the public have “tobacco scientists” and lobbyists to promote their message. The Pilgrim nuclear plant is no exception, and denies the pattern of radiation-linked cancers and disease around it.

Pilgrim’s spin doctors choose to rely on fiction, not facts. We rely on the National Academies (our nation’s premier scientists). The National Academies’ latest report said there is no safe dose of radiation and that exposure to even very low levels of radiation is three times more dangerous than previously expected – and more so for children and women. We rely also on statistics from the Massachusetts Cancer Registry. In 1982 it began recording data showing a continued increase in radiation-linked cancers in communities around Pilgrim.

A review of Massachusetts Cancer Registry data shows that Plymouth (from 2002-2009) has a statistically significant increased level of leukemia, at a 95 percent probability level. This means that there is, at most, a 5 percent chance that the difference between the observed and expected cases of leukemia is due to chance. There also is a statistically significant increased level of prostate cancer, another radiation-linked disease.

For the previous two decades, the Massachusetts Cancer Registry shows the “footprints” of radiation-linked disease (leukemia, thyroid cancer, multiple myeloma and prostate cancer) in the seven towns most likely to be impacted by Pilgrim – Carver, Duxbury, Kingston, Marshfield, Pembroke, Plymouth and Plympton. The Cape is downwind from Pilgrim much of the year. It, along with Southeastern Massachusetts, has the highest cancer rates in the state. There has not yet been a study to determine whether radiation emissions from Pilgrim are the missing variable to explain the high cancer rates there.

A major case-control study by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) in 1990 found a four-fold increase in adult leukemia the closer one lived to or if one worked at Pilgrim. Pilgrim did not like the results and cut a political deal allowing it to appoint a second peer review panel to re-review the study and write a report. Even Pilgrim’s handpicked panel concluded that, “The original study team adhered to generally accepted epidemiological principles… [And] …the findings of the study cannot be readily dismissed on the basis of methodological errors or proven biases… [and last]…the association found between leukemia and proximity to the Pilgrim nuclear facility was unexpectedly strong.”

Pilgrim apologists say radiation from Pilgrim is closely monitored and controlled. Not so. Pilgrim collects its own environmental samples, fewer now than previous years; analyzes the samples in their own lab; and writes its own reports – the equivalent of letting students write and grade their own exams. MDPH has a very limited offsite monitoring program due to lack of finances. Since 2007, there have been onsite monitoring wells to detect radioactive tritium leaks before they enter Cape Cod Bay. Leaks of tritium are evident but not the source. If more wells were installed, would more releases be detected?

Pilgrim place real-time air monitors in off-site communities. Pilgrim refused to do so. MDPH began its own, very limited offsite air-monitoring program in 2010.

Pilgrim’s operational history affects us today. Pilgrim began operations with bad fuel and without filtration. In 1982, Pilgrim blew its toxic filters, spewing hot particles into neighborhoods. A state-sponsored study showed that weather conditions then were worst-case for holding contamination over local communities and Cape Cod. Environmental samples showed Cesium-137 in milk samples from a close-by farm was 1 million times greater than expected; no Cesium-137 was found in control samples. A similar pattern was recorded by Pilgrim in other environmental samples. Pilgrim claimed it was due, not to it, but to Chinese test bombs. You decide. Did the Chinese have “smart” test bombs that targeted Pilgrim’s indicator samples but not their control samples?

Spin doctors cannot raise the dead or make the sick well. If the dead and sick with radiation-linked diseases are significantly more prevalent near Pilgrim than in communities distant, the conclusion seems obvious.

Mary Lampert is a resident of Duxbury, founder and director of Pilgrim Watch, and co-chairman of the town of Duxbury’s Nuclear Advisory Committee.

Posted on    March 31, 2014  

Right now, 5 very important bills are under consideration that will increase public safety and protect public health. If they pass, it will cost Entergy a hefty sum of money to implement.

Bill H.2045 188th – An Act increasing nuclear power plant protections to a twenty mile radius
(Current) Sponsors: Sarah Peake & Ann Margaret Ferrante

Bill H.1906 1188th – An Act increasing nuclear power plant protections to a twenty mile radius
(Current) Sponsor: James Cantwell

Bill H.1907 188th – An Act to amend Section 5K(E) of Chapter 111
(Current) Sponsor: James Cantwell
Asks to increase Massachusetts Department of Health’s (MDPH) assessment from a maximum $180,000 per annum, to an initial assessment of not less than $400,000 per facility. It addresses the fact that the Commonwealth has insufficient funds to be able to perform its legislatively required monitoring, surveillance and emergency response obligations in communities likely to be affected by emissions from Pilgrim, Vermont Yankee, and Seabrook.

Bill H.2046 188th – An Act relative to radiological air monitoring
(Current) Sponsors: Sarah Peake & Ann Margaret Ferrante

Bill H.2180 188th – An Act relative to emergency planning
(Current) Sponsors: Sarah Peake & Ann Margaret Ferrante

What You Can Do!

Call and/or Email your legislators and ask them to support these bills:


Call the Joint Committee of Public Health:

Senate Committee Chair, John Keenan (617) 722-1494
House Committee Chair, Jeffrey Sanchez (617) 722-2130

Posted on    March 21, 2014      Bruce Gellerman    Source (WBUR)

PLYMOUTH, Mass. — Twelve Cape Cod residents were found guilty Friday in Plymouth District Court for illegally entering the grounds of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant.

The defendants admitted to trespassing at the Plymouth facility, but used the seldom argued necessity defense, declaring they were innocent because they were trying to prevent an imminent public danger.

Diana Turco, co-founder of Cape Downwinders, a group of Cape Cod residents who want the plant shut down, was one of 12 defendants.

“There are cancers caused by the nuclear power plant. There is no assurance of public safety in the evacuation plans. Those are huge issues,” Turco said.

The judge ruled the standards for the necessity defense were not met.

The 12 defendants were found guilty and each was sentenced to a day in jail, or time served.