PLYMOUTH, Mass. (AP) — The company dismantling a former nuclear power plant along Cape Cod Bay will not release radioactive water into the bay unless tests confirm that local marine life is not will be harmed, US Senator Ed Markey’s office said Wednesday.
The Massachusetts Democrat held a hearing in Plymouth, Massachusetts, on Friday on nuclear safety and security issues, where Holtec International’s decommissioning of the Pilgrim nuclear power plant was discussed.
Markey said he was assured by Holtec officials that they would not discharge radioactive water from the plant into the bay without the consent of the interested parties. The company followed up with a letter this week to Markey, which his office published.
The letter, signed by the president of Holtec International, says the company will voluntarily refrain from releasing the water, even if legally permitted by federal authorities, until scientific evidence confirms that radiological levels are low enough to ensure that the local marine life remains protected.
Kris Singh writes that he will delay the completion of the decommissioning program, if necessary. But, he added, his data has consistently indicated that the processed water is completely harmless to marine life and he believes outside expert opinion will bear this out.
Local residents, shell fishermen and politicians are fiercely opposed to dumping the water into the bay. Alternatively, Holtec could evaporate the contaminated water or truck it to a facility in another state.
Markey said in response to Holtec’s pledge that “people have spoken and Holtec International has finally listened.”
Pilgrim closed in Plymouth in 2019 after almost half a century providing electricity to the region. Pilgrim was a boiling water reactor. Water was constantly circulating through the reactor vessel and nuclear fuel, converting it to steam to turn the turbine. The water was cooled and recirculated, collecting radioactive contamination.
Nuclear plants occasionally need to dispose of water with low levels of radioactivity when they are in operation, so a process to release it in batches into local waterways was developed at the dawn of the nuclear industry.
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