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News Releases from Region 01

Draft Clean Water Permit for Pilgrim Nuclear Plant Outlines Practices During Plant Shutdown and Beyond

Contact Information: 
David Deegan (deegan.dave@epa.gov)

BOSTON – EPA has released a draft water discharge permit for the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth, Mass. The draft permit proposes conditions to regulate the intake of cooling water and the discharge of heat and other water pollutants prior to the plant shutdown as well as after the shutdown, during the plant decommissioning process. EPA is accepting public comments on the draft permit for 62 days.

The Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station's existing National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit was issued in 1991 and regulates the facility's withdrawal of water from Cape Cod Bay for cooling purposes, as well as the discharge of pollutants to Cape Cod Bay through a variety of wastewater streams. Wastewater regulated by the permit consists of condenser non-contact cooling water, thermal backwash water for bio-fouling control, intake screen wash water, plant service cooling water, neutralizing sump waste, demineralizer reject water, and station heating water. Additionally, there are five stormwater outfalls, which discharge stormwater runoff as well as stormwater that has accumulated in various electrical vaults around the property.  

The draft permit contains effluent limitations and conditions for each of the outfalls as well as conditions regarding the water withdrawal from Cape Cod Bay by the facility's Cooling Water Intake Structure (CWIS). The intake requirements are consistent with a 2014 EPA Rule which regulates CWISs under the Clean Water Act at existing facilities such as Pilgrim. To satisfy the Act, the location, design, construction, and capacity of the facility's CWIS must "reflect the best technology available for minimizing adverse environmental impact." The operation of CWISs can cause or contribute to a variety of adverse environmental effects, such as killing or injuring fish larvae and eggs entrained in the water withdrawn from a water body and sent through the facility's cooling system, or by killing or injuring fish and other organisms by impinging them against the intake structure’s screens. In addition, the permit contains thermal discharge limits which are designed to assure the protection and propagation of a balanced, indigenous population of shellfish, fish, and wildlife in and on the water.      

The permittee, Entergy Nuclear Generation Company (Entergy), owns and operates the 670 megawatt electricity-generating power plant adjacent to Cape Cod Bay. The facility occupies approximately 140 acres and is located on the western shore of Cape Cod Bay, occupying one mile of continuous shoreline frontage. Commercial operation of the station began in December 1972, when the facility was owned by Boston Edison Company. In 1999, Entergy assumed ownership of the facility.

On Oct. 13, 2015, Entergy announced plans to cease electricity generation operations at the plant no later than June 1, 2019. Entergy has advised EPA that some discharges and water withdrawals, though significantly reduced, will continue after the termination of electricity generation. Therefore, the draft permit has established permit limits that reflect post-shutdown operations and discharges as appropriate.     

The draft permit is available for public review and comment. Any comments or other information for the formal public record must be submitted by July 18, 2016.

To review the draft permit, go to: www.epa.gov/region1/npdes/mass.html