Pilgrim’s Use and Abuse of Cape Cod Bay

Pilgrim’s outdated “once-through” cooling water intake structure (CWIS) has been destroying marine resources in Cape Cod Bay and polluting our waters since it began operating in 1972.

Although Pilgrim’s owner, Entergy, has announced that Pilgrim will close no later than June 2019, until Pilgrim stops generating power it will continue to harm Cape Cod Bay in many ways including:

  • Massive Water Consumption: When operating, Pilgrim uses up to 510 million gallons of seawater from Cape Cod Bay each day for cooling purposes.
  • Killing Marine Life: In the process of pulling in sea water for cooling, Pilgrim kills tens of millions of fish and billions of planktonic organisms every year through impingement and entrainment.
  • Dumping Heated Water: Most of the energy produced by Pilgrim is wasted – only 34% of the thermal energy produced by using Cape Cod Bay’s water is converted to electricity and the remaining 66% of the energy produced is discharged into the Bay in the form of hot water.
  • Pollutants: The water discharged back into Cape Cod Bay is mixed with a variety of pollutants.

All of the adverse impacts discussed above can alter ecosystem processes and harm overall health. Furthermore, Entergy’s Clean Water Act “NPDES” permit that allows Pilgrim to discharge process water into Cape Cod Bay via its once-through cooling system expired in 1996! We have been urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection to update Pilgrim’s permit since 2012. While the permit renewal process finally started in 2014, it appears that the announcement of Pilgrim’s closure has stalled any agency efforts to update the permit. Learn more about our work on Pilgrim’s expired NPDES permit →

UPDATE May 18, 2016: Pilgrim’s New Draft Permit Has Finally Arrived. Learn more →

Read our 2015 Report, Entergy: Our Bay is Not Your Dump, to learn more about the impacts of Pilgrim’s once-through cooling system on Cape Cod Bay.

Pilgrim will be shutting down by June 2019, and possibly sooner. After shutdown, the daily intake and discharge of 500+ million gallons of seawater will be drastically reduced (along with impingement and entrainment of marine life!) to up to 3 million gallons per day until Pilgrim’s spent fuel pool is no longer operational (likely 5-10 years after closure). Learn more about Pilgrim’s decommissioning →

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