Dumping would cause large economic and likely radiological damage.
The state’s premier aquaculture industry is here. This summer, seventy-seven million seed oysters will be planted in Duxbury alone.
Fish, oysters, clams, and mussels filter the water for their food. A single adult oyster can filter as much as 50 gallons of water a day. Consumed radionuclides bioaccumulate as they move up the food chain to our dinner tables.
The fishing and aquaculture industries fear that dumping will contaminate the water, and millions of oysters, lobsters, mussels, clams, scallops, and fish. They rightfully believe that public perception of radioactive contamination of our waters could destroy a hundreds-of-millions-of-dollars aquaculture and other fishing industry.
Holtec’s planned dumping can have similar serious impacts on many boat and marine industries, to say nothing of real estate, tourism, and our beaches, on which the livelihoods of our towns depend.
Our economic viability depends on the public believing that the waters in Cape Cod Bay and Plymouth, Duxbury, and Kingston Bays are clean. How many consumers might not buy our seafood because they fear it might contain long-lived and toxic radiation?
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has said that Holtec can dump Pilgrim’s contaminated water whenever it wants to. Holtec says it will do anything the NRC allows, but that does not make it safe or the right thing to do.
The NRC’s methodology is flawed: it considers harm only to an individual, not to a wider population. They also do not consider the economic effects of a release. Furthermore, the NRC relies on what Pilgrim reports, and only reviews Pilgrim’s discharge program and past releases annually and the MA Department of Public Health does not monitor the releases at all.
Though Holtec says it will filter the water before dumping, but no filter is perfect; for instance, It is not possible to filter tritium at all. Holtec’s sampling protocol for fish and shellfish analyzes only gamma radiation. Tritium emits only beta.
The Commonwealth can STOP Holtec - if it wants to.
In the Settlement Agreement between it and the Commonwealth, Holtec agreed to “comply with all applicable environmental and human-health based standards and regulations of the Commonwealth.” Par. 10(l). These include:
MGL ch 270, Sec. 16 that makes it a crime to deposit or discharge “waste or other material of any kind … or in or upon coastal or inland waters….”; and
The protected Ocean Sanctuary Act (MGL Ch. 131A) regulations, particularly 301 CMR 27.05(1)(b) that prohibits “The dumping or discharge of commercial, municipal, domestic, or industrial wastes except as allowed in 301 CMR 27.05(2),” none of which apply to Pilgrim’s threatened dumping.
The Commonwealth can sue to force Holtec to comply with these laws and regulations – all it needs is the will to do so.