Letter Text (PDF)

Washington (April 30, 2024) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), chair of the Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Clean Air, Climate, and Nuclear Safety, today led a letter joined by Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Congressman William R. Keating (MA-09), sharing concerns from public health officials and local stakeholders, who have expressed that Holtec’s plan for dispositioning radioactive wastewater stored at the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station poses a threat to the health and safety of the public and the environment.

Scientists, public health officials, elected leaders, and residents of the communities surrounding the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station have been sounding the alarm over Holtec’s plan, which initially called for a discharge of wastewater into Cape Cod Bay, and now reportedly includes dispositioning through evaporation. In light of the harm that either form of wastewater release may have on public health, ecosystems, and the blue economy, the Massachusetts lawmakers urge Holtec to develop a transparent, community-involved approach for dispositioning the wastewater.

In their letter to Holtec International President and CEO Dr. Kris Singh, Ph.D., the lawmakers wrote, “There is no question that evaporating wastewater from Pilgrim poses potential health and environmental risks. During the 2022 U.S. Senate field hearing, you identified evaporation with electric heaters as an alternative to discharging the wastewater into Cape Cod Bay. But you also acknowledged that evaporation would cause environmental damage. After all, evaporated wastewater released into the air will not permanently remain in the sky; eventually it will return to sensitive areas such as Plymouth’s residential neighborhoods and Cape Cod Bay.”

The lawmakers continued, “Through the decommissioning process, Holtec routinely celebrates its transparency and community engagement efforts. With those values in mind, we urge Holtec to meaningfully engage with and center local stakeholders and experts to develop a community-driven approach for dispositioning Pilgrim’s wastewater in a manner that respects input from residents, state and local officials, marine scientists, and public health experts, upholds prior commitments, and complies with the law.

Since Holtec first announced its discharge plans in December 2021, Senator Markey has called for no unsafe discharge of the radioactive wastewater and uplifted community concerns. In May 2022, Senator Markey held a field hearing in Plymouth with Rep. Keating, “Issues Facing Communities with Decommissioning Nuclear Plants,” where the lawmakers secured earlier commitments from Holtec that it would not discharge any effluent water into Cape Cod Bay from the plant without the consent of stakeholders. In January 2022, Senators Markey and Warren and Reps. Keating and Seth Moulton (MA-06) sent a letter to Holtec once again making clear their opposition to the discharge of effluent water into the bay. In 2022, Senator Markey also secured commitments from Holtec to allow the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MADPH) and Environmental Protection (MADEP) to be present for the sampling of the wastewater and for the agencies to conduct split sample testing to verify the radiological and non-radiological pollutants in the waters, which was completed in 2023. In March 2023, Senator Markey sent a letter to Holtec urging Holtec to direct funds from Pilgrim’s ratepayer funded decommissioning trust fund to fund a robust and independent scientific study on the potential environmental impacts of a wastewater discharge into Cape Cod Bay.