Anti-nuclear activists put spotlight on Cape safety

Notice: compact(): Undefined variable: in /homepages/39/d230859104/htdocs/cado/wp-content/plugins/post-snippets/src/PostSnippets/Shortcode.php on line 38
Published under Fair Use


August 07, 2014

Cape and Islands voters will be asked in the Nov. 4 state election if the region should be included in the emergency planning zone around the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station.

The nonbinding referendum asks whether voters want “to instruct the district’s state senator to vote in favor of any legislation to expand the emergency zone to include all of Barnstable, Dukes and Nantucket Counties.”

Currently, Cape and Islands residents would be expected to “shelter in place” in the event of a radioactive release, at least until residents within the 10-mile radius of Pilgrim known as the emergency planning zone, have cleared out.

“The public advisory question calls on our elected officials to take concrete action for the assurance for public health and safety,” Diane Turco, founder of the Pilgrim watchdog group Cape Downwinders, wrote in an email to the Times. The watchdog group submitted the petition for the referendum on Monday.

Turco went on to note Pilgrim is currently “one of the nine worst operating nuclear reactors in the U.S.”

The plant was downgraded by the Federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission in February, based on its number of unplanned shutdowns during the previous year. That status change has triggered more oversight from federal nuclear regulators.

The effort to gain better protection for the Cape is hardly new.

“This question builds upon an effort to expand the planning zone that began in 1987,” Turco wrote.

State Senator Daniel Wolf, D-Harwich, who represents 11 towns in Barnstable County along with Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, has been a vigorous opponent of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station, since his election four years ago. He has also been outspoken supporter of an expansion of the emergency planning zone.

Wolf, who needs no urging from his constituents to support such efforts, nevertheless praised this latest Downwinders’ initiative. “It’s another way to validate widespread support,” he said.

State Representative Sarah Peake, D-Provincetown, sponsored a bill last year to expand the emergency planning zone around Pilgrim and to instruct the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency to devise a detailed plan for evacuating Cape and Islands residents should a radioactive release occur.

The measure languished in the Joint Committee on Public Health and died at last month’s end of the legislative session.

Peake, on Wednesday, stressed the importance of keeping the focus on safety issues related to the plant.

“If the referendum passes, especially by an overwhelming margin, that’s very helpful to Sen. Wolf and myself when we refile our bill next session,” Peake said.

Peake believes there is no way to evacuate Cape residents if an incident occurs at Pilgrim so state emergency management officials will ultimately fail when ordered to devise a plan. Her ultimate aim is to force the shutdown of Pilgrim, since the safety of the public can’t be assured.

“We’re trying to focus on the impossible situation we would face if there was a problem at the plant,” Peake said. “We all know what the bridges from the Cape look like on Easter Sunday, July Fourth, or a Saturday in the summer.”

Turco said her group shares that goal.

“Cape Downwinders holds the position that the only way for the public to be safe is to remove the threat by closing Pilgrim,” she wrote. “Until then, an expansion of the Emergency Planning Zone will place us in the real risk area so our legitimate concerns will be seriously considered.”

Follow Christine Legere on Twitter: @chrislegereCCT.

via Anti-nuclear activists put spotlight on Cape safety |

Related Times stories on the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station

Tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.