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Holtec watchdogs await testing of radioactive wastewater

WELLFLEET—About 30 opponents of a plan to dump wastewater from the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station into Cape Cod Bay rallied Tuesday on Mayo Beach.

Wellfleet on Saturday became the last town on Cape Cod to condemn the plan by plant owner Holtec, with voters unanimously approving a citizen's petition opposing the proposed release of a million gallons of radioactive water.

Holtec does not need further federal approval to dump the water. But this week, Attorney General Maura Healey, a Democratic gubernatorial candidate, pledged to block Holtec's efforts at the state level.

“We’ve come a long way on this issue and I’ll be damn sure, in whatever capacity I serve, that we’re not going to have radioactive waste dumped down here,” Healey told CAI's Jennette Barnes.

Holtec CEO Kris Singh last month told U.S. Sen. Ed Markey he would wait for independent testing of the water to confirm whether its radioactive levels could harm marine life. Cape Cod Bay is a protected habitat for the endangered right whale.

State Rep. Sarah Peake, whose district includes Wellfleet, said that independent testing should settle the matter.

"We want to know what is in that goop; we're sure it's more than just nuclear waste," she told CAI. "And we have jurisdiction over a list of chemicals and pollutants as long as your arm, and all we need is to have one of those be in there."

The discharge would also threaten the region's economy and real-estate values, Peake said.

"I think even if they say it's within a legal range of radioactivity, I think it's going to ruin shellfishing, even if it ruins it in people's minds," said Candace Perry, who shellfishes on Wellfleet year-round.

Diane Turco, director of watchdog group Cape Downwinders, says she looks forward to the wastewater analysis.

"A fisherman can't throw a gum wrapper into the Bay without getting fined," Turco said. "There are laws that they cannot pollute and contaminate our Bay."

Singh did not respond to a request for comment.

Patrick Flanary is a dad, journalist, and host of Morning Edition.