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10,000 people sign petition against Holtec's radioactive water discharge

Rally pilgim
Jennette Barnes
CAI file photo
Participants hold signs at a rally on Sept. 26, 2022 on the lawn of Plymouth Town Hall against the discharge of radioactive water from the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station.

More than 10,000 people have signed a petition asking Holtec, the owner of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station, not to dump radioactive water into Cape Cod Bay.

The company is considering discharging about a million gallons of radioactive water into the bay as part of the plant decommissioning.

Ryan Collins of Bourne started the petition, which calls on Holtec to make a pledge by late March not to dump the water.

It reads in part: “The people, the tens of thousands of residents of Plymouth and Cape Cod, and the million tourists who visit this area each year, have made it clear that we would prefer for this water to not be released into our beloved Cape Cod Bay.”

Collins spoke at last month’s meeting of the state panel on Pilgrim.

“Will your legacy, as individuals and as a company, be one in which you are remembered by us, and the future generations to come, as the company who ignored our simple request?” he said. “The wishes of people, the real human beings who live here in the shadow of the nuclear plant, in my personal opinion, ought to supersede the law and the science.”

But Holtec won’t pledge not to discharge the water, according to spokesman Patrick O’Brien.

“We're just following the process that's allowed … by the federal government, to look at it as an option,” he said.

He said release of radioactive water is nothing new.

“Every day, these type of things are happening with municipal wastewater treatment systems,” he said. “Hospitals are discharging into those.”

Holtec is pursuing a permit modification that could allow it to release the water into Cape Cod Bay.

The company has said it will probably use more than one disposal method, including discharge into the bay, evaporation, long-term storage, and trucking for off-site disposal.

Holtec said last June that trucking the water to a disposal site, instead of discharging it, would cost the company about $22 million.

Jennette Barnes is a reporter and producer. Named a Master Reporter by the New England Society of News Editors, she brings more than 20 years of news experience to CAI.