Boston (July 24, 2023) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Clean Air, Climate, and Nuclear Safety, released the following statement today celebrating Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection’s (MassDEP) tentative determination to deny Holtec’s request to modify its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit for the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station. MassDEP determined that the discharge would violate the Massachusetts Ocean Sanctuaries Act. Without a modified NPDES permit, Hotlec is prohibited from discharging its radioactive wastewater into Cape Cod Bay. MassDEP’s tentative determination will now undergo a public notice and comment process before a final determination is made.
“This is a good day for environmental justice. MassDEP’s decision to deny Holtec’s permit modification request is a win for the environment and for all of the people, businesses, and organizations that rely on Cape Cod Bay’s reputation for clean and safe water. When Holtec took over the decommissioning of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in 2019, the company promised this community an open and transparent decommissioning process—a promise Holtec’s CEO repeated to me in a hearing I chaired in Plymouth in 2022. In the years since, Holtec has fallen woefully short on this commitment—particularly with regard to its plans to discharge one million gallons of radioactive water into Cape Cod Bay, despite vehement opposition from local stakeholders. I applaud MassDEP for following the science, upholding the Massachusetts Ocean Sanctuaries Act, and heeding local concerns in its decision to rightfully deny Holtec’s request.”
Since Holtec first announced its discharge plans in December 2021, Senator Markey has opposed the proposal and uplifted community concerns. Last November, Senator Markey led his colleagues Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Representative Bill Keating (MA-09) in calling on Holtec to publicly commit to abide by the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) regulations and not discharge effluent water into Cape Cody Bay without modifying its NPDES permit. Holtec subsequently committed to pursuing a modified NPDES permit. In May 2022, Senator Markey held a field hearing with Representative Keating, titled 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 Representative 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.