Today, Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station’s Clean Water Act “NPDES” permit has officially been expired for two decades. It is one of the longest expired water pollution permits in the nation.
Pilgrim’s massive seawater consumption and pollution discharges into Cape Cod Bay are allowed under the terms of its expired permit. Pollution stems from the plant’s cooling system, yard drains and stormwater runoff. These permits are supposed to be renewed every five years to ensure the most efficient and protective technologies are being used to safeguard water resources. Not only has this not been done in twenty years, but Pilgrim is not even fulfilling the requirements of its expired permit. For example, when Entergy purchased Pilgrim from Boston Edison in 2000 it disbanded the required administrative technical committee that watched over marine impacts.
Entergy, Pilgrim’s owner, recently announced Pilgrim will close May 31, 2019. Closure does not eliminate the need for a valid NPDES permit. Even after shutdown, Pilgrim’s spent fuel pool will require three million gallons of cooling water every day and discharges to Cape Cod Bay will continue. Moreover, when decommissioning commences in 2019, yard drains and stormwater runoff could become further conduits for pollution to Cape Cod Bay, and decommissioning could take sixty years to complete.
The fact that the expiration of Pilgrim’s permit has reached twenty years undermines the intent of the Clean Water Act by allowing the facility to use inefficient technology and continue to operate under one of the longest expired NPDES permits in the U.S. This is just another example of almost rogue-like operations at Pilgrim and the rules seeming to not apply to Entergy.
A valid, up-to-date permit needs to be required immediately by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. If an updated permit cannot be issued, then Pilgrim’s expired NPDES permit should be revoked and the plant shut down now.