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Problems for Pilgrim in Cape Cod

August 18, 2015

On August 9th, 2015, Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station was forced to reduce power due to the water in Cape Cod Bay being too warm.  The changing climate continues to affect Pilgrim as this is not the first time the nuclear power station has had to power down, having done so on two former occasions.

The water in Cape Cod Bay is becoming too warm for Pilgrim’s cooling system which requires that incoming sea water be no hotter than 75⁰F (24⁰C).  Anything higher is in violation of the company’s operating license because of the unsafe and precarious conditions in can create inside the nuclear power station.

The rising water temperatures can be accredited to the effects of global warming and the discharge that nuclear power plants put back in the water.   According to scientists, as greenhouse gases trap heat, our oceans have absorbed over 90% of the total heat that’s been added to our climate system in the past half a century.  The second reason behind the rising water temperatures involves nuclear power plant discharge. This discharge contributes to the thermal pollution, which raises the temperature of the seawater.

Finally, Pilgrim is not the first and only plant to suffer setbacks from rising water temperatures.  The issue of warming water temperatures has impacted nuclear facilities throughout the U.S. and Europe.  Another nearby example of this was seen in 2012 with Dominion’s Millstone nuclear reactor in Connecticut.  The reactor had had to shut down because of warmer temperatures of the water it took from the Long Island Sound.   It got approval in 2014 to continue operations with the warmer water, but this warm water trend affecting the viability of nuclear plants that were designed in the 1960s with 1960’s seawater temperatures in mind is something to monitor closely.

Brought to you by the EarlyBird Power Market Research Team