As a regulatory requirement, Entergy periodically publishes a water pollution report for Pilgrim called a Discharge Monitoring Report (DMR). They must collect wastewater samples, conduct chemical tests of the samples, and submit monthly reports to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for pollutants discharged into Cape Cod Bay under Pilgrim’s Clean Water Act, or NPDES, permit.
According to Entergy’s February 2014 DMR for Pilgrim, there was another leak discovered on Feb. 27th. Although it’s reportedly not releasing radioactive water, trace amounts of sodium nitrite (a corrosion inhibitor and additive to industrial greases) and tolytriazole (a corrosion inhibitor) are being discharged into the surface water of Cape Cod Bay from Pilgrim’s Outfall #001. The leak is estimated to discharge less than one gallon per minute (< 1,440 gallons per day).
Entergy states in its DMR that due to the difficulty in isolating and repairing the leak, and the fact that the discharge falls below their permitted limit, it does not have to develop a plan or a set a date to address the problem. However, Pilgrim’s 1994 NPDES permit does not discuss the discharge of tolytriazole. Instead, Entergy’s discharge of this pollutant was theoretically “approved” in a letter from the EPA long after Pilgrim’s permit was finalized and outside of the normal permit modification process. Furthermore, the letter itself only approves discharge of this chemical through Outfall #011, not Outfall #001. It is unclear why Entergy believes this leak falls “within permit limits.”
The routine discharge of contaminants into Cape Cod Bay should not be allowed. We also believe that EPA is required to issue permits in accordance with procedures that allow for public review and comment. Entergy’s NPDES permit expired by its terms in 1996, and it is far overdue for review. It’s time that an updated, meaningful, and protective permit be issued.
This leak is just one more in a list of problems experienced by the aging plant in the past couple years. It was recently ranked among the nine worst performing nuclear plants in the nation, based on a variety of problems and unplanned shutdowns. Yet, it continues to operate and the surrounding environment continues to be subjected to pollution and other impacts.
When referring to the leak in its March DMR, Entergy states that “…Pilgrim will not be able to address it until the station heating system is taken out of service this summer.” We will continue to monitor Energy’s report to see if the leak is in fact fixed this summer.