The State of New York has filed an objection to Entergy’s request to renew Indian Point’s license for another 20 years. Entergy needs a state ‘Coastal Consistency Determination’ in order to renew the license for the Buchanan, NY facility. The state’s decision to deny this Determination is based in a variety of environmental and safety concerns, including damage to the Hudson River. Without a Coastal Consistency Determination, Indian Point might not be able to renew its license and could be forced to shut down. The NRC is currently deciding whether to override the state’s decision. Read more about the issue HERE and HERE.

This is an interesting turn of events, given that two local groups (Jones River Watershed Association and Pilgrim Watch) asked the State of Massachusetts to do something similar back in 2012 for Entergy’s Pilgrim facility in Plymouth. They asked that the state revoke a 2006 Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) Consistency Certification that was used for Pilgrim’s relicensing in 2012 based on harms to Cape Cod Bay. The groups identified 10 ways (see the April 4, 2012 letter) that relicensing Pilgrim would violate the state’s coastal zone management policy. You can read a copy of the letter here: April 4, 2012 letter.

Even though Pilgrim is slated to shut down no later than 2019, we believe it has been violation of the Massachusetts’ Coastal Zone Management policy since it was relicensed and will continue to be until it finally shuts down. If contamination on the site is not surveyed and cleaned-up properly and soon after shutdown, coastal resources in Cape Cod Bay could continue to be harmed, even when Pilgrim is no longer generating power. Read more about our efforts related to Pilgrim’s decommissioning HERE.

For a decommissioning process, Entergy could choose long-term SAFSTOR. This is a process that would allow Pilgrim to be mothballed for up to 60-years before decommissioning (including cleanup of radioactivity and other contamination). With sea level rise and rising groundwater tables caused by climate change, any contamination present in water and soil on the site could increasingly migrate toward Cape Cod Bay during this time. Conditions for decommissioning will also progressively become more difficult as a result of climate-related issues. Furthermore, Pilgrim’s nuclear waste will likely remain on-site for hundreds of years or longer. The storage areas are currently within reach of rising tides, coastal storms, and salt water degradation – creating a potential source of leaks and further contamination, long after shutdown.

Coastal resources could be harmed post-shutdown if tritium or other radionuclides are leaked or otherwise flushed into Cape Cod Bay. These materials could have negative effects on endangered and threatened species, protected marine mammals, and other non-protected, but still ecologically important species.

It will be interesting to see how things play out in Buchanan, NY. While we were not successful in getting the state to revoke Pilgrim’s Coastal Zone Management Act Consistency Certification in 2012, we hope that NY’s decision is upheld and the Hudson River gets improved protections sooner than 20 years. And we also hope that Massachusetts’ state agencies will be more engaged in protecting Cape Cod Bay and our state’s coastal resources as Pilgrim’s decommissioning nears.