Despite a public outcry over the past year, U.S. EPA is still allowing Entergy operate the Pilgrim plant with a Clean Water Act permit that expired 18 years ago. Certainly, none of us would be allowed to operate a vehicle with an expired driver’s license! So why is Entergy allowed to operate Pilgrim with an 18-year expired permit? Last year, EPA promised citizen groups that it would issue a revised permit for public comment by Dec. 2013. EPA broke that promise.

Entergy’s Clean Water Act permit gives Entergy permission to use more than a half-billion gallons of water per day from Cape Cod Bay for its outdated once-through cooling system. The water is used to cool equipment and boil into steam, which runs Pilgrim’s turbines. The water is then discharged back into the Bay heated and contaminated. This process destroys marine resources, such as fish and plankton. EPA is supposed to update the permit every 5 years to ensure that the “best available technology” is being used; however the agency has not done its job.

Up to 510 million gallons of water is pulled into Pilgrim's cooling system (via the intake structure) and then the heated and polluted water is discharged back into Cape Cod Bay via the discharge canal.

Up to 510 million gallons of water is pulled into Pilgrim’s cooling system (via the intake structure) and then the heated and polluted water is discharged back into Cape Cod Bay via the discharge canal.

Cape Cod Bay Watch (CCBW) recently asked EPA to retire Pilgrim’s Clean Water Act permit. In a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, CCBW points out EPA’ broken promise to review Pilgrim’s permit by Dec. 2013, and that the 18-year delay is unacceptable. The Clean Water Act was never intended to let EPA grant a permanent right to Entergy to use public resources – the waters of Cape Cod Bay and its marine life – for private use, for as long as it wants. Instead of continuing to allow Pilgrim to operate with an expired permit, EPA should permanently retire the permit and require Pilgrim to find another way to cool equipment and operate its turbines.

Read the full letter (with associated exhibits: Exhibit A, Exhibit B, and Exhibit C) and the press release.

Stay tuned for how you can get involved and help retire Pilgrim’s Clean Water Act permit and protect Cape Cod Bay.

top photo: USGS