On March 8, 2012, JRWA filed a legal challenge against Entergy’s operations at Pilgrim Nuclear Plant. One of the significant issues at hand is the number of fish that get sucked into the plant’s cooling system. Those of us who follow the annual Jones River herring run are well aware of how imperiled river herring are in the Jones and beyond. River herring are the third most impinged (sucked into the grates) species at Pilgrim. In fact, based on Pilgrim’s monitoring data, river herring have been impinged at Pilgrim every year from 1980 to 2010. The total number of river herring impinged in this time period was estimated at 92,001 (68,489 alewife + 23,512 blueback herring). Peak impingement years included:

  • 1995 when alewife alone was the greatest single species impinged at the plant and total river herring impinged was 41,128 individuals (39,884 alewife + 1,244 blueback herring)
  • 2010 when alewives were the second most impinged species (after Atlantic silversides) at an extrapolated total of 12,680 fish plus an additional 271 blueback herring. This is more than three times greater than the total number of fish estimated for the entire 2010 Jones River river herring population.

More Information

River herring are one of the candidate species under the federal Endangered Species Act that the groups say are being killed every year by Entergy’s cooling water intake structure at Pilgrim. The groups’ testimony also shows that one of the most endangered whales on the planet – the north Atlantic right whale – regularly feeds and forages close to the Pilgrim reactor.

“Entergy has a license to kill marine aquatic resources in Cape Cod Bay,” said Meg Sheehan, one of the lawyers filing the appeal on behalf of Jones River Watershed Association. “They’ve been killing hundreds of thousands of menhaden, tens of thousands of other types of fish, and billions of fish eggs, larvae and plankton everyday for the last 40 years. Enough is enough,” Sheehan added.

The groups claim the Nuclear Regulatory Commission cannot relicense Pilgrim until all impacts on whales, sea turtles, fish and marine habitat are fully assessed and Entergy takes steps to upgrade its destructive cooling water intake and discharge operations.

Here’s information about the species that Entergy kills and about the whales that are found around where Entergy discharges polluted water to Cape Cod Bay. Testimony on Whales & Fish →

Jones River Watershed Association in Kingston, Massachusetts detailed how Entergy’s cooling water operations are harming marine and freshwater species. Jones River Watershed Testimony →

To learn more, read more details about Pilgrim’s impacts on fisheries and whales in Cape Cod Bay.