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EPA letter on Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station's dumping proposal isn't enough, activists say

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File photo of Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station

Last week’s letter from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency calling for more data before radioactive water can be discharged from the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station does not go far enough to protect the public, some local activists say.

The EPA directed plant owner Holtec to provide information about non-radiological pollutants in the water before releasing it.

In response, Jim Lampert, of citizens’ group Pilgrim Watch, said environmental authorities shouldn’t allow the company to do its own testing.

“It sounds to me like nobody other than Holtec is going to be involved in taking or characterizing those samples, and EPA is simply going to get a report, and that gives me serious concerns,” he said. “I see no reason, on something this important, that the public should be forced to rely on what the licensee chooses to tell us, since they have resisted sampling or telling us what's in the samples.”

The state Department of Environmental Protection should do its own testing, he said. “DEP needs to take samples so it knows exactly where they came from and then basically analyze them itself.”

Holtec, which is decommissioning the closed plant, is looking for a way to dispose of about a million gallons of radioactive water.

Radioactive waste is controlled mainly by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which allows discharges of this kind.

That’s why environmental regulators are checking for any non-nuclear contamination that could trigger additional review.

Local residents are concerned about health risks and potential damage to the shellfish and tourism industries from public perception of risk.