Bravo to the Barnstable County Regional Emergency Planning Committee! For the first time in 42 years, agents of our government have done something to mitigate the extent of the potential Cape Cod disaster should there be a severe accident at the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station. They have issued a Radiation Emergency Reference Sheet which instructs anyone on Cape Cod to “shelter in place”.
Owned and operated by Entergy Corporation in Louisiana, Pilgrim has the same fundamentally incapable “containment” structure as the three units in Japan which continue to leak large amounts of radioactive material into the environment today, ever since their meltdowns in March of 2011. This means that if there were a severe accident in Plymouth, Massachusetts, we can expect a breach of the substandard containment – that was understood in 1972, and nothing has been done to change that expectation.
Since 1980, when the NRC began requiring emergency planning around nuclear reactors, the only* plan for Cape Codders has been that we should “shelter in place”. But there’s never been any program to educate the public about why, when, where, or how to do that. That’s changed now.
Since 1989 the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency has had a plan to close one or both bridges over the canal to facilitate evacuation of the 10-mile Emergency Planning Zone. The agency did their best to keep this a secret – on May 12, 2012, MEMA’s spokesperson publicly denied this fact, and Barnstable County’s Local Emergency Directors were kept out of the loop until MEMA Director Kurt Schwartz addressed them on October 3, 2012.
Against this backdrop of negligence, the BCREPC has released a Radiation Emergency Reference Sheet which states in part…
No Plans for Cape Cod
- Depending on the wind direction, Cape Cod could be subject to the effects of a general emergency at the PNPS.
- Radioactive materials from a PNPS release could settle on buildings, crops and gardens, and water. Consuming contaminated materials could put you at risk.
- Federal regulations provide for emergency evacuation plans for areas within the 10-‐mile EPZ.
- Cape Cod lies outside the 10-‐mile EPZ so no emergency evacuation is planned.
* MDPH has long had a brochure available for the Cape’s farmers and food processors which advises them to keep livestock indoors and feed them safely stored feed. And in 2003 MDPH began distributing potassium iodide in compliance with a 2002 law requiring Pilgrim’s operator to provide potassium iodide to Cape Codders. But KI distribution plans have been spotty (some towns have distributed little KI and have yet to stockpile it in schools) and there has been no widespread public education program regarding KI use.