The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently released a draft water discharg permit for Plymouth, Massachusetts’ Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station, which will regulate the station leading up to and following its shutdown.
The plant, originally owned by Boston Edison Co., started operations in December 1972 and is currently owned and operated by Entergy Nuclear Generation Co., following a 1999 deal. Entergy announced in October 2015 that it would be ceasing electricity generation at the 670-megawatt facility no later than June 1, 2019, but that water discharge and withdrawls would continue in reduced volumes after that point during the decommissioning process. Because of this, the EPA is developing a permit to supplant the current National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit, which was issued in 1991.
The permit cover limitations and conditions for the plant’s stormwater outfalls, which manage runoff and stormwater accumulation. It also regulates the facility’s Cooling Water Intake Structure (CWIS) under a 2014 rule from the EPA, which requires facilities to minimize their environmental impact, including killing and injuring fish, fish larvae and eggs. Finally, the permit also creates conditions for the plant’s thermal discharges, which if unchecked can impact the environment in a way that harms native shellfish, fish and wildlife.
The EPA is accepting public comments on the permit until July 18.