Harwich Reaffirms Stance Against Potential Pilgrim Discharge


HARWICH – The Harwich Select Board has reaffirmed its stance against a potential plan to dump one million gallons of radioactive water from the decommissioning process of Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station into Cape Cod Bay.  

Harwich resident and advocate Diane Turco went before the board to ask if they would send a letter to Attorney General Maura Healey in opposition to the plan from Holtec International, the company that’s decommissioning the plant. 

The board said they already sent a letter opposing dumping the water into the bay earlier in the year. However, several members expressed approval for sending another letter directly to Healey. 

The only board member who opposed the measure was Larry Ballantine, who was hesitant to take such a strong stance against nuclear power since it’s an alternative to fossil fuels. 

Ballantine added he thought the radioactive water would be filtered of contaminants and that water had been discharged from the facility for years.

“That was the cooling water,” Turco responded. “This is the spent fuel pool water.” 

Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary Superintendent Peter DeCola made similar comments back in May.

“This is different because it’s the water that’s in the spent fuel pool. All the rods have cooled in this water. They’re able to filter it, but they can’t filter things like tritium,” Decola said. 

“The reason Holtec wants to dump it into the bay is because it’s the cheapest way to get rid of the water,” Turco said.    

The board passed the measure 4 to 1, with Ballantine the only member to vote against sending a new letter. 

At the most recent meeting of the Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel, Holtec said it will attempt to change its federal discharge permit, which would potentially allow it to move forward with dumping the water into the Bay.  

At a NDCAP meeting in September, Holtec officials said the earliest they would be looking to dump the water would be February 2023.

By Brian Engles, CapeCod.com NewsCenter

About Brian Engles

Brian Engles is a longtime local of the Cape. He studied Film & TV at Boston University and in addition to his role at Cape Cod Broadcasting Media, he also works as a music instructor and records original songs.

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