Preventing nuclear wastewater dumping

The Aquinnah select board finishing up their meeting. — Eunki Seonwoo

The Aquinnah select board was in favor of Mara Duncan’s request for a non-binding ballot question. Duncan’s ballot question was for Holtec International, owner of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant in Plymouth, decommissioned in 2019, not to discharge nuclear waste into Cape Cod Bay. Federal leaders from Massachusetts — Senators Edward Markey and Elizabeth Warren, as well as U.S. Reps. Seth Moulton and Bill Keating — have expressed opposition to Holtec dumping nuclear wastewater into the bay in a letter they wrote in January.

“When evaluating the proper method of disposal, Holtec must consider the public’s concerns surrounding and perception of the release of irradiated material into Cape Cod, especially when viable alternatives are available,” the letter reads.

Duncan told the board a number of groups, such as Physicians for Social Responsibility and the fishing industry, are against the dumping. Holtec has other disposal methods. 

“It is their cheapest option, obviously. It is very easy to open up just open the [lid] and let it spill,” Duncan said. 

Aquinnah town administrator Jeffrey Madison said a vote of the select board would not be necessary since the town clerk already gave the green light. 

West Tisbury also approved this ballot question for the annual town meeting. 

In other business, Meghan Gombos, a consultant to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, came before the board to gain feedback on their climate action plan. Kate Newman, who is a member of the steering committee for the plan, was also present. Gombos asked for a meeting to be held to gain feedback from Aquinnah town staff and residents. Madison requested Gombos to send him the resources about the plan and he would be “happy to help.”

Madison told the board he received a letter from the state’s Division of Marine Fisheries saying it wants all fisheries constables to go through with additional training. For Aquinnah, this would be the shellfish constables and warden. The training is scheduled virtually for March 7 to March 24 with an exam on March 28. The topics to be covered are shellfish biology, aquaculture, natural resource management, shellfish regulation and enforcement skills. 

Because all parties weren’t present, the board delayed the planned discussions with the Aquinnah Circle committee and with harbormaster and shellfish constable Brian “Chip” Vanderhoop. Another meeting will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 22, at 5 pm.


  1. Wow! Dumping directly into Cape Cod Bay! They gotta be joking! And who would allow such pollution and contamination! It’s the corporate way. Do it cheaply, not responsibly! If Pilgrim gets away with this, heads at every level should roll!

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