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As Pilgrim Powers Down, Some Worry It Will Leave Behind Too Much Radiation

Signs and rope lines restrict access to working areas above the reactor at Pilgrim. Photo by Robin Lubbock for WBUR

Signs and rope lines restrict access to working areas above the reactor at Pilgrim. Photo by Robin Lubbock for WBUR

Trevor Lloyd-Evans certainly looks like a naturalist. On a walk through the woods in Plymouth, he sports a white beard, thick wool sweater and a pair of binoculars around his neck. The ornithologist with the Manomet Center’s Landbird Conservation Program is demonstrating his calling, too, pointing out cardinals, blue jays and Carolina wrens and imitating their unique chirps.

After navigating around mud puddles and swatting his way through thorny brambles, he comes out on a bluff overlooking Cape Cod Bay. He notes the flock of red-breasted mergansers floating in the water and the herring gulls flying overhead.

“Birds are amazing indicators of environmental change,” he says. “There’s a reason we talk about the canary in the coal mine.”

He can’t see it here, but the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station is only a few hundred yards away. You can hear its low mechanical hum.

Like all nuclear power plants, Pilgrim releases small amounts of radioactive gases and liquids as part of its normal operations. These emissions are controlled by the plant, and monitored by federal and state regulators to protect public health.

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