Radiological Information

Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station
Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station

Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station:

Duxbury is located across the bay from the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station located in Plymouth. In the unlikely event of an emergency at Pilgrim with offsite releases requiring protective actions, you and your family should know what to do. Duxbury Emergency Management Agency has this information to help you be prepared.

You can prepare by signing up for Duxbury’s Rapid Dialing Telephone Service, Connect-CTY, to receive public service announcements from town officials by phone, email, fax and/or beeper; Permission for town officials to administer potassium iodide (KI) at a Town Shelter or at Duxbury’s Reception Center to a minor unaccompanied by a parent/guardian; and the Special Needs Card.

Radiological Emergency Response Plan:

The Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station (PNPS) is located in the Town of Plymouth in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on the shore of Cape Cod Bay. The Town of Duxbury is located approximately six miles northwest of the PNPS and entirely within the 10 mile EPZ. The 2010 Estimated Town Census is 15,439.

A hazard consideration for PNPS is the potential unplanned release of radioactive material resulting from an emergency at the plant. The probability of such a release is very low due to design and structural specifications required and enforced by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and redundant safety systems. The unplanned release of radiation from PNPS remains a possibility and therefore, appropriate plans to protect the public health and safety must be maintained.

A radiological emergency can arise from operations at PNPS, whether from a minor release of radioactive material contained within the PNPS site or a major release of material from the most serious design basis accident.

Read the full Radiological Emergency Response Plan for Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station.

Potassium Iodide (KI) and the Public:

Potassium iodide protects the thyroid gland from radiation injury caused by radioactive iodine that is released in a nuclear power plant emergency. It is approved and recommended for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and is available over-the-counter. It is stockpiled in Duxbury schools and public shelters for all adults and minors who have parent/guardian permission on record. It will be brought to Duxbury’s reception center, Braintree High school, in the event of a call to evacuate. However, in addition, you should have your own supply at home. Continue reading here...

Groundwater Protection Initiative:

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) and the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) recently completed an evaluation of the implementation of the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) Groundwater Protection Initiative (GPI) at the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant (PNPP) in Plymouth, Massachusetts. The thorough evaluation revealed that the groundwater near Pilgrim presented no public health risks for residents living in the area. Tritium, which occurs naturally in the environment in low amounts, is also produced in nuclear power plants as a by-product of nuclear fission.  Levels of tritium detected in a newly-installed monitoring well near Pilgrim exceeded the screening level and tritium concentrations have continued to rise slightly in this particular well over the last few weeks.

"The Department is monitoring the situation closely and working with MEMA and Entergy to ensure the safety of the public is protected," said Department of Public Health Commissioner John Auerbach."

The NEI groundwater initiative was implemented by Entergy and owners of other nuclear power plants across the United States. The groundwater monitoring program was created in 2007 to monitor for tritium in groundwater beneath and around the Pilgrim facility.  Groundwater monitoring is conducted to closely observe nuclear plant operations and infrastructure.  According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as with all ionizing radiation, exposure to tritium increases the risk of developing cancer.  However, because it emits very low energy radiation and leaves the body relatively quickly, for a given amount of activity ingested, tritium is one of the least dangerous radionuclides.

The Department of Public Health has posted all available groundwater sampling results on their website.  A screening level of 3000 pCi/L of tritium was established and further investigation would be undertaken for tritium levels above this amount. This value is ten times below the limit of 30,000 pCi/L for non-drinking water sources.

The highest level of tritium detected to date in this well is 11,072 pCi/L, which is still substantially lower than the non-drinking water standard of 30,000 pCi/L set by the NRC. Entergy officials have established a multi-disciplinary team to evaluate all possible sources of tritium that may be impacting the groundwater and plant officials have conducted weekly sampling of the well where tritium has exceeded the screening level.  Split samples are being shared with the DPH's Massachusetts Environmental Radiation Laboratory (MERL).

Massachusetts public health and public safety officials met with Entergy on July 8, 2010 and reviewed the Commonwealth's evaluation of the groundwater monitoring program and its suggestions for further enhancing the PNPP environmental monitoring system. Entergy officials have already acted on some of DPH's recommendations regarding the collection of surface water samples in adjacent areas of Cape Cod Bay; results for these samples are expected in the next several days.   Entergy and MDPH also discussed and Entergy agreed to the installation of additional groundwater monitoring wells based upon Entergy's groundwater monitoring program, MDPH recommendations and recommendations from Entergy's hydrogeologist.

Preparedness Information:

Visit the Nuclear Advisory Committee page for more information.