PLYMOUTH — Bourne resident Ryan Collins, whose father and grandfather were fishermen, continues the family tradition. He has now become an advocate as well.
Collins has collected more than 214,000 signatures on a petition asking the owners of the former Pilgrim nuclear plant not to release radioactive wastewater into Cape Cod Bay.
Collins told the Independent he took up the matter because he is a “common sense” person. “All of our ecosystems are under a lot of stress,” Collins said. “If there is an opportunity to keep something out of the water that may have some impact, we should do it.”
He said he has been listening to concerns from his fellow fishermen as well as family, friends, and neighbors about Holtec Decommissioning International’s proposed solution to disposing of the water from various systems at the shuttered plant.
“Everyone I am speaking to is against it,” he said. Eight weeks ago, he started his online petition at Change.org.
At the March 27 meeting of the Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel, Collins presented two Holtec representatives with a large binder containing just some of the signatures his petition has collected.
In the petition, Collins noted there have been convincing scientific arguments as well as legal arguments for not releasing the water into the bay. His main point, though, is that “the wishes of people, real human beings who live here in the shadow of the nuclear plant,” are clear. “We don’t want the water discharged into Cape Cod Bay,” the petition states.
At the meeting, Collins said that Holtec’s website describes the company as “a learning organization, forever striving for a higher standard of excellence.”
“CEO Krishna, if you happen to be listening,” he said, “I’d like you to know that I personally feel that right now is a wonderful opportunity for you to demonstrate this higher standard of excellence by acquiescing to our collective wishes as a community and agreeing to no longer consider dumping this water into our beloved bay.”
Retired Wellfleet shellfisherman Irving Puffer was not at the meeting. “I thought it was so ludicrous they wouldn’t even think of doing it, but I guess I’m wrong,” he told the Independent, referring to the release of the wastewater. “We don’t want that in our bays or harbors or anywhere near us.”
Even the perception that the bay was contaminated could have a huge effect on whether people would want to swim in it or eat seafood harvested there, said Puffer. In his view, too little is known of possible effects, and “once they do it, it’s done.”
Wellfleet lobsterman Damian Parkington noted the currents in Cape Cod Bay run counterclockwise. Woods Hole oceanographer Irina Rypina has studied the bay’s currents and believes the radioactive water released from Pilgrim would flow south, with one current branching off and hugging the coast of the Outer Cape while a second flowed into the bay where it would stall before heading out to the ocean.
“It’s scary,” Parkington said. “With the prevailing currents that would nest a lot of these sediments into the little harbors from Hyannis to Provincetown.”