Position Statement on Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station
The Association to Preserve Cape Cod (APCC) submits this position statement regarding threats to Cape Cod’s environment from the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station (Pilgrim). APCC was founded in 1968 to promote policies and programs that protect Cape Cod’s environment. APCC is the Cape’s largest environmental organization and has 5,000 members from all 15 towns on Cape Cod.
In our 46 years, we have successfully advocated for protection of the Cape’s water resources, open space and natural resources, and adoption of regional growth management policies. As an environmental guardian for Cape Cod, our work is based on sound science and best environmental policies and practices (see www.apcc.org).
Cape Cod is one of the most ecologically valuable and sensitive areas in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Important natural resources include shellfish beds; commercially and recreationally important fisheries; habitat for fish, wildlife and rare species; numerous wetlands, ponds, lakes and streams; miles of coastal habitat and beaches; and a sole-source aquifer that supports most public water supplies. The Cape’s economy relies upon healthy natural ecosystems; fishing, shellfishing, aquaculture and coastal tourism are a multimillion-dollar- industry that benefits the region and the Commonwealth. The Cape has a long history of environmental protection as evidenced by many protected areas, parks and open space.
Regarding Pilgrim, many organizations, agencies and officials have identified threats to human health and safety. Potential threats to the Cape’s environment and resources have received less attention. Human health and environmental quality are linked. Our statement therefore focuses on the potential threats posed by Pilgrim to the Cape’s environment as summarized below:
1) Safety issues at Pilgrim include power outages, a power-down in July 2013 due to seawater being too warm to cool the reactor, a fire that could have damaged the reactor, storage of spent nuclear fuel in overcrowded spent-fuel-pools, partial blockage of an emergency cooling system by mussels, and vulnerability to natural hazards and terrorism. In January 2014 the NRC downgraded Pilgrim’s performance to “degraded”; only seven other nuclear power facilities in the nation are in this performance category. These issues point to aging infrastructure, outdated systems, failure to account for climate change, and inadequate maintenance, oversight and regulation. Safety issues increase the risk of a serious accident occurring that could damage the Cape’s environment.
2) Pilgrim is causing environmental impacts nearby and in Cape Cod Bay, namely: release of radioactive materials, including releases of tritium into groundwater that exceed drinking water standards; impingement and entrainment of 90+ species of fish and shellfish which is affecting some species at the population level; discharge of heated seawater into Cape Cod Bay resulting in a thermal plume, erosion, barren and stunted areas, warm-water algal growth, and increased thermal burden on marine ecosystems that are already experiencing warming; potential impacts on rare species, fish and wildlife; and cumulative impacts of all of the above. Such impacts are unacceptable. Furthermore, regulatory agencies have allowed these impacts to continue, increasing the chances that a larger area such as Cape Cod will eventually be affected.
3) The Fukushima nuclear disaster provided important lessons: a) improbable accidents occur, and b) if an accident results in major radioactive contamination, there can be serious and widespread impacts on water resources, fish, wildlife, food webs, crops, the economy, human populations and society.
4) All of Cape Cod lies within a 50-mile radius from Pilgrim. If a nuclear accident were to occur at Pilgrim, impacts on Cape Cod would depend on many factors; but if a radioactive plume or radioactive fallout were to reach Cape Cod, the Cape’s valuable resources could be severely affected.
Based on the importance of Cape Cod’s natural resources and the impacts and threats posed by Pilgrim, APCC calls on public officials and regulatory agencies to revoke Pilgrim’s permits and to require that Pilgrim be decommissioned in the shortest time and safest manner feasible. We also recommend additional measures to safeguard the Cape’s environment and human population.
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