A chance to do something about nuclear waste February 12, 2016; Meg Sheehan
Pilgrim could be next; why take the chance? October 3, 2015; Brian E. Boyle
State’s own study of Pilgrim-cancer link overlooked Sept. 23, 2015; Anna Baker
Replacing Nuclear Energy Sept. 18, 2015; Janet Azarovitz
Urge Representatives To Support Bills Safeguarding Cape From Pilgrim Aug. 28, 2015; Janet Azarovitz
Playing probabilities with Pilgrim can be fatal May 22, 2015; William Maurer
KI Protocol Applauded Apr. 23, 2015; Janet D. Azarovitz
Risks not worth game of Pilgrim roulette Apr. 22, 2015; Brian Boyle
Accept that Pilgrim is a nuclear waste dump Apr. 21, 2015; Janet Azarovitz
Surely being jobless trumps being dead Apr. 21, 2015; Margaret Rice Moir
Join ‘Mad as Hell Mother’s Day Rumble’ Apr. 21, 2015; Sarah Thacher
CORRECTION: Pilgrim EMPLOYEES AND THEIR FAMILIES Outnumber Critics May 22, 2015; Kathleen A. Vickery
Entergy is Wrong about Evacuation and Emergency Planning Mar. 6, 2015; Brian Boyle
Nuclear industry plagued with problems Mar. 3, 2015; David Agnew
Real danger to Pilgrim would come from above Mar. 3, 2015; Paul Rifkin
NRC not accountable if Pilgrim should blow Feb. 28, 2015; William O’Brien Jr.
Raise our voices against Pilgrim plant Feb. 25, 2015; Janet Azarovitz
The planet’s future is in renewable energy Feb. 10, 2015; Mary Conathan
Let our leaders know we want Pilgrim closed Feb. 7, 2015; Joan Holt
It’s time to revisit Pilgrim tax question Feb. 6, 2015; Robert Winter
Economics is the key to gutting nuclear power Feb. 5, 2015; David Agnew
More bad news for Pilgrim nuke plant Feb. 4, 2015; James Garb
Wolf’s bill might provide needed kick to Entergy Jan. 29, 2015; Brian E. Boyle
Efforts to close Pilgrim are for Cape’s future Jan. 21, 2015; Rosanne Shapiro
Pilgrim and the NRC: 9/11 Redux? Jan. 13, 2015; Brian F. Sullivan
Transfer of fuel rods at Pilgrim too risky Jan. 10, 2015; Maxine Wolfsett
No Solomon’s Choice over nuclear plant Dec. 14, 2014; Margaret Rice-Moir
Nuclear no solution for global warming Dec. 11, 2014; Robert R. Holt
Force closure of Pilgrim nuclear plant Dec. 10, 2014; Mimi McConnell
Protesters were realizing King’s vision Nov. 24, 2014; Diane Turco
Keep KI on hand in case of nuclear event Nov. 23, 2014; Stephanie Wall, M.D.
Undocumented claims on Pilgrim worthless Nov. 23, 2014; Robert Holt
DeMacedo must address Cape’s nuclear concerns Nov. 7, 2014; Janet Azarovitz
Anti-nuclear defendants respectful in court Nov. 4, 2014; Rosanne Shapiro
NRC protects the industry – not the American public Sept. 26, 2014; Joan Holt
Threats posed by Pilgrim are more than ‘logistical’ Sept. 20, 2014; Rosanne Shapiro
The undeniable truth Sep. 13, 2014; Janet Azarovitz
‘Shelter in place’ is unacceptable advice Sept. 13, 2014; Ann Rosenkranz
Entergy’s defense doesn’t undo the damage Aug. 09, 2014; Sandra Faiman-Silva
Jalopy nuclear reactors can’t compete with green Aug. 03, 2014; Harvey Wasserman
Cape is being regarded as Pilgrim’s collateral damage July 16, 2014; Susan Carpenter
We need more than ‘shelter in place’ July 11, 2014; Don Nuendel
Nuclear power plants are far from clean July 05, 2014; Caroline Quinn
Urge Patrick to seek closure of Pilgrim July 03, 2014; Lillia Frantin
State evacuation plan for Pilgrim endangers Cape June 26, 2014; David Agnew
Who includes Chernobyl on their travel itinerary? June 25, 2014; William Schutten
Add earthquakes to list of Pilgrim hazards June 18, 2014; Sarah Joslin
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OF NUCLEAR INTEREST: Living five miles from Pilgrim – but who’s counting?
April 12, 2017 – Wicked Local Plymouth
When I lived in Los Angeles, friends and family from Massachusetts would exclaim that they would never live in an earthquake zone, “It’s too dangerous!” Yes, earthquakes hit with a startling bang, and the shaking and noise can be intense. But everyone knows to prepare for earthquake dangers in Southern California.
Returning to my childhood home of Plymouth, I’m surrounded by the historic landmarks of “America’s Hometown,” families driving to The Cape for vacation and acres of pristine conservation land. It’s a tourist town where nobody talks about the local stockpile of nuclear waste and the ever-present danger of radiation leaks from the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant.
Between 2010-2017, the risk to public safety increased dramatically as Pilgrim’s safety ratings plummeted from Column 1 to Column 4. Pilgrim is now rated at the bottom of all 100 US nuclear plants by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
This is like a quick fall from an overall “A” grade to a “D.” Yes, both are technically passing grades but no amount of NRC double-talk will convince me that living near the lowest-rated plant is just as safe as living near the highest-rated plant.
After this harsh reality check, my head-in-sand safety plan no longer seems reasonable. In Los Angeles, basic earthquake preparedness was fairly straightforward: Secure items that could fall, stock up on power bars and water. But how do I protect myself from invisible radiation?
Everyone within a 10-mile radius of Pilgrim is issued a yearly calendar with attractive historical photos and “An Emergency Plan for Your Protection,” distributed by the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.
My calendar map identifies that I live in Emergency Planning Zone Sub-Area 5 (EPZ-5) and am actually closer to only five miles away from Pilgrim, but who’s counting? For a moment, I will pretend that anyone with a smart phone will not throw out a physical calendar and that the MEMA website will not crash during a disaster.
My EPZ evacuation information is generally unchanged since the 1970s. We use the same basic roads, which are now expected to carry a population that is at least four-times larger. But vehicles from The Cape won’t add to the traffic jam on Route 3 because the canal bridges will close and everyone on The Cape will shelter-in-place… indefinitely. Yes, that is their emergency plan.
Another MEMA instruction: Do not pick up your children at school. The schools will bus them to designated Host Facilities. Wait… what? Parents are expected to flee danger and leave their children behind? Because the schools have practiced these evacuation procedures to run smoothly like fire drills? Nope, they have never practiced.
And how would I even know if a radiation leak occurred? There are emergency sirens and loudspeakers downtown. But I live in a rural area and only hear every few words of the echoing emergency tests while hiking outdoors. The messages are drowned out by wind or rain and are completely inaudible if I am indoors, watching television or asleep.
MEMA can send alerts to my phone but this requires that I constantly broadcast my current location. So I “liked” MEMA on Facebook. Hopefully they will notify me if there is a radiation leak. Believe me, I’m open to better ideas. Installing a Geiger counter on the porch, near the hammock, is a possibility but information that radiation levels are spiking at my home seems like late notice.
This brings me to potassium iodine pills, which are standard issue to all residents within the EPZ and on The Cape. It is not a magic pill. It has potentially serious side effects and protects nothing except your thyroid for a number of hours. It should only be taken in the event of exposure to high levels of radiation. So I live somewhere “safe,” yet pills to treat exposure to high levels of radiation are standard issue for residents. And Pilgrim is “safe,” yet it has the worst safety rating of all 100 U.S. plants. Unpack that logic.
Contained in the calendar message from the commonwealth of Massachusetts to the neighbors of Pilgrim: “each and every human life is of equal and inestimable value.” And during an emergency, “There is no such thing as an acceptable level of death, injury or suffering.” Good to know.
The MEMA plans for the EPZ and The Cape are completely unrealistic and will not protect public safety in the event of a radiation leak at Pilgrim. Please speak up to your state and local officials. They represent us. At this point, we have little more practical protection than hoping for the best and remembering to “duck and cover.”
Diana Barker Price is a writer, photographer and Plymouth resident. She works with groups including The Wildlands Trust, The Nature Conservancy and Cape Cod Bay Watch to protect the public health and environment.
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A chance to do something about nuclear waste
February 12, 2016 – Wicked Local Plymouth
The town has the chance to make a difference in how Entergy stores the 44 years of nuclear waste that is sitting at Pilgrim.
With Entergy’s announcement that it is going to close its Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth by June 2019, we are hearing a lot of talk from town officials about doing something. Talk is good, but now is the time for action. The town has the chance to make a difference in how Entergy stores the 44 years of nuclear waste that is sitting at Pilgrim. This nuclear waste is stranded and has no place to go. It is likely to be there for decades if not hundreds of years. If the town does not act now, the chance to ensure the most robust, properly sited, and secure nuclear waste site at Pilgrim will be lost.
What can the town do? It can enforce its own local zoning bylaws. The purpose of these laws is to protect public health, safety, welfare and the economic value of people’s homes, land and businesses. Pilgrim is in Plymouth only because in 1967 the town gave Entergy’s predecessor, Boston Edison, a zoning permit to build and operate Pilgrim. The permit allows the nuclear waste to be stored inside the reactor building. At the time, the plan was to send the nuclear waste off-site to a deep geological storage facility or to reprocess it. Neither of those is happening any time soon. So Plymouth needs to deal with Pilgrim’s legacy now.
Seven local residents are trying to do something to address Pilgrim’s nuclear waste issues. In 2013, they brought a lawsuit to enforce the town’s zoning laws so that residents and town officials could try to have a say over how and where Entergy stores the nuclear waste. Instead of joining with its residents, the town is fighting the case. The town is spending taxpayer money to fight its own residents who are trying to make the town a better place by having a robust nuclear waste storage facility. These local residents are the backbone of Plymouth: a school nurse, a retired firefighter who served the town for decades, a successful entrepreneur, a whale watch naturalist, a health aide, a grandmother, and a civil association leader. They all live within two miles of Pilgrim and are concerned about the value of their homes and the future of their families.
The town officials who granted Boston Edison the 1967 zoning permit – Mr. Quinn, Mr. Collari and Mr. Forth – no doubt had the best interests of the town’s residents in mind at that time. They had the courage to use local zoning to try to protect the town’s interests. They never anticipated that some 50 years later, in 2016, there would be a legacy of almost a half century of nuclear waste left onsite by the time Pilgrim stopped operating. For almost 50 years, the town enforced local zoning laws at Pilgrim, requiring new permits for new buildings and uses. So what is going on now, in 2016, when town officials will not take a stand to use the zoning laws to try to improve the way nuclear waste is stored – but instead just want to talk about things?
Meg Sheehan is a lawyer and Plymouth native. Along with Earthrise Law Center, she is representing the seven plaintiffs in the lawsuit over nuclear waste storage. She also works with the local group Cape Cod Bay Watch on issues relating to Pilgrim’s nuclear waste and water pollution.
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Pilgrim could be next; why take the chance?
October 3, 2015 – Cape Cod Times
In March 2011, loss of power for cooling water triggered meltdowns at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Explosions sent a massive plume of radioactive material spreading across the countryside. About 160,000 people were evacuated. Fortunately for them, they didn’t have to get across the Sagamore or Bourne bridges.
Four years later, 70,000 people are still unable to return to their homes because of radioactive contamination. Local agriculture is suffering because of concerns over radioactive crops. Thyroid cancer in the area has skyrocketed.
An estimated 6,000 children contracted thyroid cancer following the earlier Chernobyl nuclear disaster; 237 people suffered from acute radiation sickness, of whom, according to the World Health Organization’s report, 28 died within three months.
Pilgrim Nuclear represents 2 percent of our grid’s capacity, and when Pilgrim shuts down because of its numerous safety failures, our grid supplies the electricity we need without problem. Why do we want to continue to take these risks from an aging nuclear reactor that is the same design as the ones at Fukushima, and whose inspection record now ranks at the very bottom of all U.S. nuclear reactors? Let’s instead focus on clean renewable energy as our strategy for the future.
Brian E. Boyle, Truro
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State’s own study of Pilgrim-cancer link overlooked
September 23, 2015 – Boston Globe
THE GLOBE’S stance in the Sept. 12 editorial “NRC’s puzzling about-face on cancer study” is commendable. It was highly concerning, however, that the editorial began by saying that “no credible scientific link has been established between radiation emissions from reactors and” cancer.
When he was governor of Massachusetts, Michael Dukakis pushed for a cancer study in the area surrounding the Pilgrim nuclear power plant, which resulted in the Southeastern Massachusetts Health Study. The study was conducted by the state Department of Health to determine whether communities near the Pilgrim reactor have elevated incidences of leukemia. The final report found a four-fold increase in leukemia among residents of certain towns within a 20-mile radius of the plant.
Anna Baker, Marshfield
The writer is chairwoman of the Pilgrim Coalition.
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Replacing Nuclear Energy
September 18, 2015 – Falmouth Enterprise
Frank Messman’s letter to the editor last week was not the first that he’s written. I rarely advocate a broad brush such as he has used but I’d probably be correct in saying that he is a proponent of nuclear energy. The “Downwinders” he refers to are not all anti-nuke. The mandate of the groups is to take action to protect the lives and welfare of the residents of Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket against the threat of death or injury resulting from the use of nuclear energy at Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station.
In an NRC report issued September 3, the rating of Pilgrim was downgraded to the lowest level of all of the 99 operating plants in the US. Entergy (owner of all three of the in the lowest category four) must provide the NRC “with additional information in deciding whether the continued operation of the facility is acceptable and whether additional regulatory actions are necessary to arrest the licensee/plant performance.”(sic) Rather than list the reasons why the plant has been degraded to this standing, anyone can read the report or go to the Cape Downwinders Cooperative website for other reports. There is further evidence that this aging, yes, safe but at risk even by NRC standards, nuclear power reactor should be shut before we find ourselves in a catastrophically similar situation as is happening because of the identical, GE Mark I BWR reactor in Japan. Residents were told that they were safe by Japanese nuclear regulators – they had had 40 good years of successful electricity production – but all was changed forever by one bad day. Enough said about a “safe” production of electricity but, as Einstein said, it’s a “hell of a way to boil water.”
Now pointing to some facts about alternative forms of electricity production. Proven, coal and oil certainly have added to worsening climatic changes causing devastating health and environmental effects. But overall, the country is relying less on coal for power. In 40 states, use of coal, as a share of all power sources, has dropped since 2004. Many states are increasingly relying on natural gas instead, fraught with its own problems. Solar and wind energy production information that Mr. Messman uses comes from woefully old information. To date, California, is committing to 50 percent renewable by 2030. Growth of renewable energy outpaced that of fossil fuels in the electricity sector in 2014, with a record 135 GW, equivalent of 210 Pilgrim plants in terms of capacity. By the way, Pilgrim generates about 2 percent of the power in the ISO grid. By the end of 2014, renewable energy accounted for a 27.7 percent of world power generating capacity installed, equivalent to 22.9 percent of the global electricity demand. Even decommissioned reactor land is used to provide electricity. Rancho Seco, California, is getting a new lease on life. The nuclear generating station, decommissioned in 1989, will be home to a new 11 MW solar array. The plant is expected to be operational in the fall of 2016.
There are many reasons to be hopeful that we can replace the Pilgrim plant rather than allowing a corporation to run a substandard facility that, after running almost 43 years, could devastate lives of millions of citizens with… one bad day.
Janet Azarovitz, Falmouth
Janet is a founding member of Cape Downwinders Cooperative
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Urge Representatives To Support Bills Safeguarding Cape From Pilgrim
August 28, 2015 – Falmouth Enterprise
About a month ago, the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Public Health heard testimony to consider all matters concerning the public health of the commonwealth. Citizens from the Cape and representatives of the Association to Preserve Cape Cod, MASSPIRG, and Toxic Actions Center gave testimony July 28 on four bills that would provide important public health protections to residents of the areas surrounding the Pilgrim Nuclear plant currently rated by NRC as one of five worst-performing plants in the US. It is very important though, that the committee hear the voices of those who live on the Cape and beyond in support of this proposed legislation. Falmouth was one of the 15 towns on the Cape that voted to ask then-Governor Patrick to take action and call on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to close the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth. Citizens should use their voices, once again, to support the proposed legislation by calling on those who represent us and ask that they support this legislation before the joint committee.
House Bill 1898, proposed to increase nuclear power plant protections to a 20-mile radius, is critical to the commonwealth’s nuclear energy safety. As the law currently stands, monitoring capabilities are limited to a 10-mile radius of three nuclear plants that are in the state or bordering Massachusetts. The Fukushima disaster created high levels of radiation beyond 25 miles, and NRC executive director for operations said five days later, that “If this happened in the U.S., we would go out to 50 miles. That would be our evacuation recommendation.”
Both H1898 and H2031, an act increasing nuclear power plant protection to a 50-mile radius, expand the current radiological emergency planning zone recognizing that the impact of an accident spreads farther than 10 miles.
H1899, proposed by Representative James Cantwell (Marshfield), would raise present Massachusetts Department Public Health (MDPH) funding from a maximum $180,000 yearly, per facility, to an annual assessment of not less than $400,000. To date, the legislatively required offsite environmental monitoring and surveillance cannot possibly be covered by current MDPH allocations. Pilgrim releases radiation into the air and water daily. Monitoring is absolutely essential to assure that citizens’ health and safety are protected from Pilgrim’s daily operations and in the event of an accident. A monitoring program proposed in 1990 was put on hold for over a decade. Currently, monitoring is provided in a very limited way. Part of Cape Cod is in an area that is never monitored, a blind zone, and citizens who asked for protective monitoring were told that the department would like to install more monitors but did not have the money. MDPH needs more money to do its job. Entergy, making many millions of dollars selling Pilgrim’s electric power, does have the money and can well afford to properly monitor the radiation that emanates daily. Should not owners be responsible for costs resulting from their operations, including paying for the state’s surveillance programs? This bill provides an opportunity for MDPH to do what is necessary.
H2030 authorizes MDPH to make assessments not less than $400,000 to each operating nuclear reactor impacting Massachusetts (Pilgrim and Seabrook) to cover costs to purchase, install and maintain radiological air monitoring stations. Proposed by Representatives Sarah Peake (Provincetown) and Ann-Margaret Ferrante (Gloucester), this bill is similar in intent to H1899. Rep. Peake has worked tirelessly in an effort to bring what her constituents have asked of her, residents who would ultimately be trapped on the Cape in the event of a radiological accident at the Pilgrim plant. Cape residents know and been told by the head of MEMA that one of the bridges that connect to the mainland will be closed. Furthermore, when allowed to cross, possibly hundreds of thousands would have to pass through a plume emanating after a release in the event of an accident. This bill will help to alert the emergency managers whose responses are based on real-time monitoring.
Cape Representatives Tim Madden and Brian Mannal (Centerville) are co-sponsors of 2030 and join with 16 others, including our own Representative David Vieira, as well as Randy Hunt (Sandwich) and Tim Whelan (Dennis) in sponsorship of 2031. Senator Dan Wolf is also a co sponsor.
Our first-term Senator Vinny deMacedo’s voice is lacking and should, in particular, be asked to be supportive of what Falmouth citizens have asked in the past: that is, to make us safer, whether Pilgrim is operating or not.
Please contact the joint committee chairmen, Senate 617-722-1206, House 617-722-2130 or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org for names and numbers of legislators to contact. Its importance cannot be underestimated.
Janet Azarovitz, Falmouth
Janet is a founding member of Cape Downwinders Cooperative
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Playing probabilities with Pilgrim can be fatal
May 22, 2015 Cape Cod Times
Banking and insurance professionals don’t risk their money betting on the commercial nuclear energy industry. Bankers require government-guaranteed loans. Homeowners insurance doesn’t cover losses by nuclear accident. Insurers indemnify owners up to only $375 million per plant. The Price Anderson Act forces the entire U.S. nuclear industry to be accountable for another $12 billion in damages. The federal government is responsible for damages over and above.
Chernobyl is estimated to have cost $325 billion. Fukushima costs are estimated at $105 billion.
The point is that elite professional risk takers, bankers and insurers, are convinced that the U.S. commercial nuclear energy industry is too risky to bet on and underinsured. Conversely, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the industry have told Americans it won’t happen here based on probabilistic risk assessment. Yet they told Americans 50 miles from Fukushima to evacuate, but plan to evacuate only people 10 miles from Pilgrim. And it’s OK that 215,000 Cape Cod residents and another 200,000 visitors 10 to 50 miles from Pilgrim will be trapped, most stuck in a gridlocked, get-out-of-Dodge reaction, hoping the wind doesn’t blow in their direction!
Counting on it not happening at Pilgrim is a fool’s bet confirmed, for me, anyway, by the smart money.
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KI Protocol Applauded
April 23, 2015
As a grandmother who has a grandson in Bourne Middle School, I was pleased to read Mary Petiet’s article in The Bourne Enterprise titled, “With Nuclear Station Close By, Schools Look to Update KI Protocol.”
A long-standing policy, it exhibits the wisdom of those who are charged with the responsibility of our children and grandchildren during their school day. In the unlikely event of a radiological release of radioactive iodine, my grandson, all students, will be protected by the administration of the KI [potassium iodide] pills as soon as word is received by the nurses’ offices. The cluster of Bourne schools is about 27 miles away from the power plant. The NRC does not consider Bourne in the EPZ, an arbitrarily designated area of extra protection for residents within 10 miles of the plant.
But on any given day the plume could easily travel beyond that and it is known that the NRC advised those American citizens within 50 miles of Fukushima to take KI to protect themselves against cancer of the thyroid and other diseases of the thyroid gland. As a matter of fact, the American Thyroid Association strongly suggests that KI should be “predistributed” to households within 50 miles of a plant. It is most effective if taken within hours of a release and exposure. Coupled with that fact is the statement by Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency director that there is no evacuation plan for Cape Cod residents and that we are to shelter in place. Most susceptible are young children and the unborn.
A fellow Downwinder and I had hoped to bring that same policy to the schools in Falmouth. Heartened by an endorsement of that policy by the Falmouth Board of Health and the superintendent of schools, we thought that it would be happening for the students in the Falmouth schools. We drew attention to the fact that potassium iodide is recommended by leading agencies such as the FDA, Centers for Disease Control, Massachusetts Department of Health, FEMA, NRC, Environmental Protection Agency, the Health Physics Society and World Health Organization. It was acknowledged that it would not be an easy undertaking, could create “logistical problems” but we stated that many schools on the Cape have adopted this policy. I suggested several models being used by other school systems, including the one established in the Bourne schools.
With the plant just 27 miles from parts of Bourne and Falmouth, who’s to say which way the winds will be blowing….there is no “wall” that stops the plume blowing toward us, especially during those winter months that have been marked by increasingly strong northeasters. Thanks to Bourne superintendent Stephen Lamarche, nursing staff and school committee, the policy will continue in Bourne. A “logistical problem” is a small price to pay to rest assured that we’ve done the best we could do for our children.
Janet D. Azarovitz, Shapquit Bars Circle, West Falmouth
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Risks not worth game of Pilgrim roulette
April 22, 2015, Cape Cod Times
Thomas Glesthorpe’s April 15 op-ed suggested that nuclear reactors don’t kill, don’t emit carbon dioxide, have a tiny risk, and are essential to our electricity. These assertions are simply not accurate.
Fukushima is the same design as the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station, and more than 300 workers there received significant radiation doses; surely a percentage of them will die from the ensuing cancers. Over 40 died of radiation from the Chernobyl accident.
Instead of emitting carbon dioxide, Pilgrim heats up Cape Cod Bay and emits tons of radioactive uranium that will be stored in Plymouth for the indefinite future. Reactors of the same design as Pilgrim have suffered serious accidents, and that design has been known to be deficient for decades.
Given that there is no effective emergency plan for Cape Cod residents, even a small risk is terrifying.
Finally, Pilgrim’s capacity is just 2 percent of the capacity of the entire New England electrical grid from which Massachusetts draws its electricity. Pilgrim goes offline for repairs frequently, and nothing happens to our electricity. We don’t need the risks and pollution of Pilgrim to just have a little more excess capacity in the electric grid. It’s not worth it, so why play Pilgrim roulette?
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Accept that Pilgrim is a nuclear waste dump
Apr. 21, 2015
Thomas Gelsthorpe (“Activists exaggerate risks; managers calculate trade-offs,” op-ed, April 15) outlined what he said were exaggerations of activists in stating the concerns that Cape residents have about the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station.
Contrary to his statement that electricity generated from nuclear power does not emit carbon dioxide, the nuclear fuel cycle does release CO2 during mining, fuel enrichment, plant construction and decommissioning. Uranium mining, essential to that production, is one of the most CO2-intensive industrial operations, and if demand for uranium grows because of new electricity generation and new plant construction, CO2 levels will also rise. Adding up all the CO2 emissions, nuclear power releases four to five times more CO2 per unit of energy produced than renewable energy sources like wind and solar.
One extremely important point Mr. Gelsthorpe totally ignored is that the ultimate byproduct, the spent fuel waste from nuclear energy-generated electricity, is one of the most toxic threats to our existence. Every year 2,000 metric tons of radioactive waste are produced by nuclear plants. There is no known solution on how to store or dispose of it.
Bottom line, Plymouth is a nuclear waste dump. No exaggeration, no refuting that fact.
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Surely being jobless trumps being dead
Apr. 21, 2015
I appreciate Daniel Hurley’s efforts on behalf of the workers at the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station (“Pilgrim adds mightily to local economy,” Letters, April 15). Many of us who passionately oppose the operation of the facility because of significant health and safety risks are also deeply concerned with those same workers.
Any union leader worth his or her salt works like a son of a gun to maintain jobs for members. But this is a Solomon’s choice Mr. Hurley is making. Those closest to a nuclear accident at Pilgrim will face a gruesome and significantly reduced future. How does slow death from any number of agonizing cancers compare with unemployment? How many plant employees have sufficient medical insurance to cover costs associated with a radiological “event” for themselves, their loved ones and their unborn children?
I urge Mr. Hurley to more effectively protect his members by joining our fight to shut this very dangerous threat to Cape Cod, Plymouth, Boston and beyond, and to lead us in the call for replacing all lost jobs with the necessary “green” jobs that will truly benefit our beautiful and fragile environment and economy.
Margaret Rice Moir
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Join ‘Mad as Hell Mother’s Day Rumble’
Apr. 21, 2015
If there are any persons out there who sometimes wake up at night and worry about Fukushima happening here and are frustrated that there is no course of action available (despite the notion that we live in a democracy), come join us 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 10th at a We’re Mad as Hell Mother’s Day Rumble at 95 White Horse Beach Road in Manomet.
Bring food, noisemakers, your mother and your grandmother and your children and their friends for music, poetry, drumming, interesting conversation, some creative thinking (and optional civil disobedience) and go home ready to take on the powers that be.
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CORRECTION: Pilgrim EMPLOYEES AND THEIR FAMILIES Outnumbered Critics
Mar. 22, 2015; Kathleen A. Vickery
Sent to the Old Colony Memorial – March 22, 2015
To the Editors of the Old Colony Memorial Newspaper:
I preface this letter by saying I am not a member of any Pilgrim watchdog groups nor do I know anyone in those groups. I am a 26-year resident of Manomet who lives 5.16 miles from the Pilgrim plant. I write to you today with clarifications and concerns about your 3/21 front-page article regarding the 3/18 public meeting hosted by the NRC.
Your headline was biased and misleading: “Supporters Outnumber Critics…” It should have read: Pilgrim Employees and their Families Outnumber Critics…” Your article then went on to quote eight of the many pro-Pilgrim speakers without a single mention of the comments and opinions presented by the watchdog groups or any other residents in attendance at the meeting.
In reality, the NRC’s Annual Assessment and IP95002 Inspection Results Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station Meeting was a well choreographed dog-and-pony show more like a March Madness pep rally than a balanced exchange of understandable information. Pilgrim cheerleaders and their families sporting their company-issued pro-Pilgrim buttons, filled the Radisson ballroom and hogged the microphone. Though there was little mention of them in your article, “critics” as well as impartial residents with questions were, in fact, in the audience. After our bags were searched, we obediently completed the required info/question pre-screening cards before the meeting and sat patiently waiting for our names to be called. As it turned out, the deck was stacked against us. Not surprisingly, it was an NRC staffer who was in charge of selecting who would speak. Residents—those of us within the 10-mile radius who live with a supply of Potassium Iodide Tablets in our medicine cabinets—and who did not indicate that we planned to spout the party line, were screened out of the Question and Answer portion of the meeting. Nor, it seems, was there time for neutral residents—ones who could not be easily categorized as proponent or opponent— to ask questions. How are they to come to their own conclusions if they are not given the opportunity to ask their own questions and express their own concerns? Wasn’t that one of the purposes of this meeting? With many more of us waiting to take advantage of our 3-minute window to speak, the Question and Answer portion was shut down. Meeting adjourned. Mission accomplished.
I noticed, however, there was ample time (with several speakers exceeding their allotted three minutes) for many redundant pro-Entergy comments: the young, impressionable students (primed by mom or dad or Uncle Bob who works at the plant) to enthusiastically speak of Entergy’s generosity to their schools and the wonders of nuclear power. The representative from the Plymouth Philharmonic singing Entergy’s praises for its continuing sponsorship. And tourism and business proponents crediting Pilgrim with bringing millions of dollars into the town. (Note to Plymouth bean counters: You CAN’T take it with you…and even if you COULD, all that money is just going to rot away on the seat beside you as you idle in bumper-to bumper traffic TRYING to evacuate as America’s hometown melts away in the rear-view mirror. Good news: No more worries about financing that Plymouth 400 Commemoration in 2020.)
It was, as expected, another glowing example of the NRC showing off its impressive science vocabulary and process-speak skills while pretending that they are not in the utility company’s pocket and really do care about our safety. And Entergy trying to look like it’s not all about the money and that they really do know how to operate/scram/fix/repeat Pilgrim, the 1972 Saab of nuclear power plants: it still runs but the “check engine” light is always on, it’s terrible in snowstorms, it breaks down a lot and the mechanics can’t tell us exactly when it will be up and running again because they are searching every junkyard from Fukushima to Chernobyl for a replacement part.
Thankfully—though one would not know this from your article—there were some people in the audience who have not drunk the Kool-Aid that seems to be flowing through the Pilgrim station’s water fountains. Members of watchdog groups from bordering towns and the Cape—some who drove up all the way from Wellfleet and Chatham—still retain the common sense, legitimate fears and dedicated activism that prevailed in Plymouth during the Stop Pilgrim II rallies in the late 70’s/early 80’s. And unlike the NRC and Entergy’s portion of Wednesday night’s program, their message was refreshingly clear and easily understood. “Shut it Down.”
Kathleen A. Vickery
Within the 10-Mile Radius
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Entergy is Wrong about Evacuation and Emergency Planning
March 6, 2015, Cape Cod Today
Regarding evacuation and emergency planning, Entergy employee Lauren Burm said, “Years of analysis went into the initial selection of a 10-mile zone, and additional years of study by the NRC have determined that it is the appropriate size to ensure public safety”.
This statement is factually wrong. The 10-mile zone is a one-size-fits-all guideline developed in 1980 after the partial meltdown at Three Mile Island. In 1996 the NRC and FEMA stated:
“The exact size and configuration of the EPZs [Emergency Planning Zones] surrounding a particular nuclear power reactor should be determined in relation to local emergency response needs and capabilities as they are affected by such conditions as demography, topography, land characteristics, access routes…”
Pilgrim Nuclear is the only nuclear plant in the U.S. where a significant population is located near the plant, separated only by a body of water, Cape Cod Bay, and with no practical way to evacuate in a timely manner.
More disconcerting is that Entergy is so quickly willing to ignore local geographical reality, and the safety concerns of over 100,000 Cape and Island adult citizens and registered voters who want to be included in an emergency plan.
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Nuclear industry plagued with problems
Mar. 3, 2015; David Agnew (Environmental Health News)
This letter to the editor is in response to Peter Dykstra’s series on nuclear energy.
I believe Mark Heinicke’s Feb 20th criticisms (“nuances of language—satire and innuendo in particular”) of Peter Dykstra’s Last Tango for Nuclear series (Jan 31) are valid. As Heinicke says, metaphors, tone, headlines, and framing DO matter. Yet Heinicke, a self-described nuclear proponent, did not challenge any of Dykstra’s claims, nor did he make any defense of nuclear energy, or arguments for its value.
In addition to Dykstra’s laundry list of nuclear problems, 1 percent of all power reactors worldwide have suffered meltdowns. Thus a meltdown is not a rare event, and the fleet is aging. Nine percent of all GE Mark 1 reactors have suffered meltdowns with breach of their containments. Indeed, a breach after core melt was deemed likely by GE engineers and the Atomic Energy Commission back in the early 70’s. Twenty-two of these faulty designs still operate in the U.S. and I live downwind of one, Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Massachusetts.
Nuclear energy is a mature industry which:
- Has no idea what to do with its waste fuel. Possibly the most toxic material on the planet, the EPA requires it to be isolated for a million years. After 70 years, the longest period of repository isolation has been 15 years – before a cloud of plutonium vapor drifted into a town downwind of the Waste Isolation Pilot Project in New Mexico. The government-industry partnership reached fifteen-millionths of the way to the goal before failure.
- Cannot insure its operations against resulting damages which could render vast areas uninhabitable for centuries (a study done for the Massachusetts Attorney General found that a fire in Pilgrim’s spent fuel pool could cause $488 billion in property damage, 24,000 cancers, and contaminate property for hundreds of miles downwind). Under the Price-Anderson act, property owners would be lucky to receive pennies (from taxpayer largesse) on the dollar. Homeowner’s insurance to cover a nuclear accident is unobtainable.
- Cannot obtain construction loans without taxpayer loan guarantees to reimburse lenders in the likely event of cost-overruns, long delays, or project abandonment.
Although all reactors release radioactive material daily and there is no safe dose of radiation (National Academy of Sciences Committee on Biological Effects of Radiation), when there is a problem at a reactor, the operators invariably respond with the mantra, “there was no threat to the safety of the public”. On January 27th, Pilgrim Station had an automatic shutdown amidst a blizzard and state-ordered travel ban; if an evacuation had been necessary, it could not have happened. Then a major cooling system was found inoperable, and the mantra was used. It was hogwash; all nukes are required to have evacuation plans because they threaten the public.
Finally, one correction to Dykstra’s article: An ambitious metastudy published by the New York Academy of Sciences estimated “the overall mortality for the period from April 1986 to the end of 2004 from the Chernobyl catastrophe” at “985,000 additional deaths” (Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment). That would certainly mean a death toll of 7 figures to date (not 6).
Satire and innuendo are inappropriate in a science-based critique of nuclear energy. But given the industry’s focus on profits and the NRC’s disregard of public safety, it comes as no surprise.
Co-founder, Cape Downwinders
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Real danger to Pilgrim would come from above
Mar. 3, 2015
On Sept. 15, 2012, I went on a helicopter flight over the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth.
I took photos as we flew by the facility several times. I did this to demonstrate that security at this most vulnerable and potentially dangerously combustible nuclear plant is completely lacking. At no time was the pilot contacted during the flight. It seems that there was no concern about who we were or what our intentions might be.
Subsequent to the 2012 flight, I have flown over and taken photos of Pilgrim numerous times. The pilot has never heard from anyone suggesting that we go fly elsewhere.
Your Feb. 26 report “Pilgrim plant: Opponents pleading for more security” points out that there have been 15 incidents of trespassing on the Pilgrim property since 2002. The absurdity of Pilgrim’s owners’ upgrading signage directed toward beachgoers and kayakers notifying them that “they are near plant property” and might be subject to arrest is striking; with the pool on top of the reactor containing more than 3,000 spent fuel assemblies, the real danger of a terrorist attack would come from above.
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NRC not accountable if Pilgrim should blow
Feb. 28, 2015 Cape Cod Times
It is provocative when an intelligence analyst says the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station should be shut down because of its aging infrastructure and vulnerability to a terrorist attack (“Pilgrim needs a cybersecurity plan, now,” My View, Feb. 16). There seems to be no one accountable if there were a human-induced accident or a weather problem such as this terrible winter — a terrible winter no doubt caused by carbon emissions into the stratosphere and the depths of the sea.
Who is in charge? The Federal Emergency Management Agency? The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency? My understanding is the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has the sole responsibility to shut down the facility. Pilgrim nuclear power is safe — that is the rubric of the NRC, which translates into “we are not accountable.”
William O’Brien Jr.
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Raise our voices against Pilgrim plant
Feb. 25, 2015 Cape Cod Times
With your recent poll asking, “Should the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station be shut down?” it was revealed that the Nuclear Energy Institute, one of the largest lobbying groups in D.C., with worldwide membership, put all members on notice that Pilgrim is in need of support.
In an email, it asked those members to take part in the poll. That one, along with this week’s poll, said that the majority think it should remain operational.
How can we, as citizens who have lived through the shutdowns, the equipment failures, especially the focus on its shortcomings during the latest severe blizzards, believe that those whose concerns and awareness have been heightened by countrywide coverage of the events actually think it should continue operation?
Now we, more than ever before, need to make our voices heard and speak out when we hear the oft-repeated quote that Entergy’s first priority is safety. It is actually among the top six worst-performing U.S. nuclear power plants, and the NRC plans to maintain additional oversight based on an inspection performed there last fall, when Entergy failed to meet mandated changes in operation and repair.
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The planet’s future is in renewable energy
Feb. 10, 2015; Mary Conathan (Cape Cod Times)
Jack Edmonston is correct that we need to replace fossil fuel power (“With no magic bullet, stick with nuclear” My View, Feb.2), but the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth is operating during its “sunset years” and will be decommissioned in 17 years, if not before. It is currently shut down for safety reasons, but even when running, it produces only about 5 percent of Massachusetts’ electricity.
Unfortunately, when a nuclear plant gets decommissioned, it doesn’t just get sent to the happy hunting grounds for nuclear reactors and a new multibilliondollar nuclear plant is installed.
These plants are really electric generators with a radioactive storage area. It takes years to dismantle the generator, but the tons of dangerous, radioactive waste will be with us for generations to come.
The future for Massachusetts, and the rest of the planet, is renewable energy, especially solar, wind and hydro. Joint Base Cape Cod has more than enough land, so if only a fraction of it were covered with solar panels, we could easily replace the power provided by Pilgrim. Most important, we would no longer live with the possibility of a nuclear plant catastrophe in Plymouth with no way for the Cape to escape.
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Let our leaders know we want Pilgrim closed
Feb. 7, 2015 (Cape Cod Times)
At this point, I and many others are really alarmed about the continued operation of Pilgrim.
It is clear that things went wrong there during the recent blizzard. It is equally clear that NRC’s “investigation” into the “event” will find no reason to keep the reactor in shutdown mode. The NRC always makes its decisions in favor of the nuclear industry, not public safety. It has rated Pilgrim one of the worst nuclear plants in the country, yet it continues to allow it to operate. I feel held hostage to a real menace.
Federal pre-emption over nuclear power is making a mockery of our ability to protect ourselves, our families, and our community. Every Cape town voted for closing Pilgrim. But that doesn’t seem to count. We cannot trust the NRC. It demonstrates daily whose interest it is protecting, and it isn’t ours. Even when it says there’s “no danger to the public,” we suffer anxiety about a danger we seem powerless to rid ourselves of. Is there nothing our government leaders can do to rescue us from the constant threat we face from Pilgrim?
The above is the message I sent to our governor, senators and congressman; I urge readers to contact them as well.
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It’s time to revisit Pilgrim tax question
Feb. 6, 2015 (Cape Cod Times)
In your Jan. 23 Cheers & Jeers editorial, state Sen. Daniel Wolf, D-Harwich, received a “jeer” that I don’t believe he deserves.
The facts don’t justify your conclusion that “this seems like the Senator is overreaching.” Our object should be to justify the state’s right to tax Pilgrim. The way damages were calculated can be questioned, but the result is big enough to get the attention of Pilgrim’s out-of-state owners, and the amount makes a good place to start negotiations.
When the NRC approved Pilgrim for another 20 years, we knew it was at a critical point and needed a new strategy. Pilgrim, with a design life of 20 years, is now approved for 60. And NRC decisions can’t be appealed.
Our state officials have tried almost all options to no avail. It’s time to revisit the tax question as Sen. Wolf suggests. We must ask Attorney General Maura Healey to consider the question and render an opinion. Hopefully, it will make possible favorable legislation action.
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Economics is the key to gutting nuclear power
Feb. 5, 2015 (Cape Cod Times)
According to a 2006 study presented by then-Attorney General Martha Coakley challenging Pilgrim’s relicensing, a fire in Pilgrim’s spent fuel pool could cause up to $488 billion damage from the release of cesium 137 alone. (There are about another 100 radioactive — carcinogenic — elements in there.) Imagine Cape Cod or Boston as “exclusion zones.”
Never mind the 24,000 cancers predicted by the study from cesium alone, and never mind the birth defects that would randomly follow for many generations to come. Why ignore the health effects, you may ask? Because according to the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, only the federal government has jurisdiction over reactor safety, and the NRC, with the Nuclear Energy Institute shouting in its ear, says they’re all perfectly safe.
So back to the part of a spent fuel pool fire that, under federal law, the state can have a say in — economics. Less fuel in the pool would mean fewer radionuclides released, hence less economic damage. If a $10,000 tax on each fuel bundle in the pool is “arbitrary,” how about $27,459? The Cape Cod Times says that Sen. Daniel Wolf’s bill is disingenuous and frivolous. What’s your bright idea?
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More bad news for Pilgrim nuke plant
Feb. 4, 2015 (My View in the Cape Cod Times)
By James Garb
As of this writing, the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth is off line due to several equipment malfunctions following an emergency shutdown (known as a “scram”) during the blizzard of Jan. 27. The initial shutdown is thought to be due to a loss of offsite power to the plant resulting from the storm.
But the more troublesome part of the story is what happened next. The station experienced several equipment issues in the course of cooling down following the scram. These included the station diesel air compressor which failed to start, a safety relief valve that could not be operated manually from the control room, and the failure of a gland seal motor that provides high-pressure coolant injection. This does not inspire confidence.
These events occurred a day after the release of an extensive investigative report by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission detailing their findings surrounding four scrams at Pilgrim in 2013. The NRC, it should be noted, is part oversight agency and part lobbyist for the nuclear power industry – all in all, a good friend of the industry. These four scrams in one year resulted in Pilgrim being placed under increased safety scrutiny by the NRC.
The NRC report is 48 pages long. In its accompanying letter to the Pilgrim site vice president, the NRC made several statements that are of great concern. In evaluating the response of Entergy (Pilgrim’s parent company) to the four scrams in 2013, the NRC said the following:
“Although inspectors determined that, in general, Entergy’s problem identification, cause evaluation, and corrective action plans (CAP) … were adequate, they identified deficiencies regarding Entergy’s execution of corrective actions … as well as Entergy’s understanding of some of the causes of the issues. Specifically, inspectors identified several examples where corrective actions were not completed as intended or were closed prematurely. Additionally, for one of the root cause evaluations, inspectors determined that Entergy failed to investigate a deficient condition in accordance with the CAP requirements to ensure they fully understood all of the causes of one of the scram events.”
The NRC further stated “Inspectors determined that corrective actions identified to improve performance in this area have not been effective. Ultimately, inspectors determined that your actions in total did not provide the assurance level required to meet inspection objectives and represent a significant weakness.”
This report addressing the four scrams in 2013 and the events of this past week heighten concerns about the safety of Pilgrim. This is an aging plant that is not being well maintained, and it was a flawed design to begin with. Now we have damning documentation by the NRC that corrective action plans are not being taken seriously, to the point where the NRC questions whether Entergy even understood all of the causes of one of the scrams. While the NRC did not directly blame the safety culture at the plant for these scrams, they did cite corrective action plan weakness identified in the safety culture review, and their report does identify other aspects of the plant’s safety culture that require attention, including issues with training, communication and understanding of the accountability model. One could conclude that the NRC let plant management off easy on the safety culture assessment.
If the NRC is concerned, we should be concerned as well. Pilgrim is in our back yard. As everyone knows, a disaster at Pilgrim would leave Cape Cod residents with no viable evacuation option. The handwriting on the wall could not be clearer. How many of these events will we tolerate before a situation occurs at the plant that can’t be contained? Pilgrim should be closed now before a perfect storm of an aging, failing plant, poor maintenance of critical systems, and a deficient safety culture result in a serious radiation leak that could alter life on Cape Cod for generations to come.
Dr. James Garb of Yarmouthport, a consultant, is board certified in occupational and environmental medicine.
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Wolf’s bill might provide needed kick to Entergy
Jan. 21, 2015 (Cape Cod Times)
I write in response to your Jan. 23 Cheers & Jeers editorial “Let’s get real, Senator.”
I applaud Sen. Wolf’s sincerity in looking out for the public’s safety. While it would be nice to rely on Entergy, a $16 billion company, to protect us from its Pilgrim nuclear waste, it seems that we can’t count on its concern for the public to be sufficient incentive to act responsibly by swiftly moving all of the plant’s radioactive rods.
Entergy plans to move rods to dry casks only as needed to make room in the pool for rods from the reactor. When the plant closes, Entergy hopes the underfunded decommissioning trust fund will grow until it can cover the costs of transferring the entire 3,300 rod pool. NRC is willing to give Entergy 60 more years, but if the company still doesn’t perform, taxpayers will be left holding the bag.
Pilgrim Nuclear is a clunker that Entergy bought for cents on the dollar, and it poses Fukushima-like risks to our public safety. Must we also expect to subsidize Entergy’s cost-cutting to preserve our future? Entergy has the ability to act in the public’s interest and Sen. Wolf’s bill can help provide it with the will to get it done.
Brian E. Boyle
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Efforts to close Pilgrim are for Cape’s future
Jan. 21, 2015 (Cape Cod Times)
Stephen Boyson’s Jan. 16 letter states that dry casks used to transfer and store spent fuel rods at the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth are indestructible, citing an industry expert to prove this fact.
However, he fails to present the larger picture, stated in Maxine Wolfset’s letter of Jan. 10, i.e., the process of transferring fuel rods is hazardous; it releases radiation into the environment and there is no equipment to monitor radiation levels. Additionally, the casks’ location at 25 feet above sea level cannot guarantee that they will remain dry, given rising sea levels secondary to global warming.
Boyson does not address the primary reason for transferring spent fuel rods to dry casks, i.e., that the spent fuel pool is already over capacity, and Entergy (Pilgrim’s owner) had to reduce the number of spent fuel assemblies in that pool. Doing so will make room for more spent fuel assemblies ad infinitum.
Leaving out important facts is a distortion perpetuating Entergy’s ability to emphasize profits over safety and health. We who are asking that Pilgrim be closed permanently are not perpetuating the “nuclear scare”; we are guaranteeing that Cape Cod, the Islands and Southeastern Massachusetts will be safe and habitable for future generations.
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Pilgrim and the NRC: 9/11 Redux?, Jan. 13, 2015
(Cape Cod Today)
Is the Plymouth nuclear plant a target for terrorists?
The parallels between the old Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the lead up to the September 11, 2001 attacks and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) today are unmistakable.
Prior to 9/11 the FAA was charged with a conflicting dual mission – that of promoting the aviation industry, while attempting to regulate the airlines at the same time. We saw the tragic consequences of that conflict of interest, when the industry constantly and successfully fought what they considered to be costly security enhancements. Concerns about the bottom line – the almighty dollar – time and time again resulted in efforts to secure the flying public being thwarted in favor of moving passengers and aircraft without being encumbered by enhanced security measures, which the airlines felt had a diminished cost benefit. You know what that boiled down to – profits versus protecting the lives of the travelling public and those on the ground beneath their planes.
Now let’s turn to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and our nuclear power stations. When security professionals conduct a risk analysis they look at three components – criticality, vulnerability and threat. Using Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth as an example, is it a critical facility? Absolutely, according to the Department of Homeland Security. All of our nation’s nuclear power plants are considered critical infrastructure and in Pilgrim’s case add the fact that its location in America’s Hometown makes it also a symbolic target.
Is it vulnerable? Well, thanks to the NRC and Entergy, yes it is. Just look at the recent decision to delay transfer of spent fuel assemblies to dry cask storage and the Nuclear Energy Institute’s (the industry’s main trade group) efforts to revise cyber security requirements in a way that experts say will leave our nuclear plants’ systems more vulnerable. Is it mere coincidence that Pilgrim Station was supposed to have its cyber security plan fully implemented by December 15, 2014 and that requirement has now been delayed by the NRC until June 30, 2016?
And now, how about threat? The Islamic Fundamentalist Extremist threat against east coast nuclear power plants in the lead up to and since 9/11 is pretty well known. Add to that the recently revealed threat posed by North Korea when, according to a 2004 Defense Intelligence Agency report, they sent commando teams to infiltrate the United States in the 1990s for possible terrorist attacks against nuclear power plants. Recent reports of drones flying over French nuclear power plants and cyber-attacks on South Korea plants are certainly not comforting. It doesn’t take much to extrapolate from the recent terrorist attacks in France to see the possibility of similar actions here within the continental United States. The question to ask is, do the spent fuel pools at our nuclear power plants present an inviting target?
The NRC suffers from the same type of “revolving door” that was experienced within the FAA prior to 9/11. Top level officials rotated from the regulatory agency to the aviation industry and vice versa. The end result was compromised security, due to the influence the airlines had with the regulator (the FAA), which resulted in the regulatee (the airlines) being able to ward off numerous security enhancements due to their cost benefit analysis. Industry concerns frequently took precedence over safety and security for the travelling public. We now have a similar situation within the NRC. Industry concerns about cost, once again, seem to take precedence over the safety and security of our local communities.
Al Qaeda found a way to use our resources, our airplanes, against us when they attacked on September 11, 2001. Are our enemies now going to use our spent fuel against us? The industry’s fawning sycophants within the FAA helped facilitate the diminished security which lead to the 9/11 attacks. We need to push hard to insure that the NRC doesn’t repeat those same mistakes. Recent actions demonstrate that the NRC has yet to learn one of the most important lessons from the September 11, 2001 attacks and that is to address failure of the imagination and connect the dots. The NRC must change its dangerous course if we in Plymouth, Cape Cod and surrounding communities are going to be given the safety and security we deserve.
LTC (Ret.) Brian F. Sullivan
Mr. Sullivan is a retired Military Police Officer and former FAA Special Agent. He has worked in the U.S. Army’s nuclear surety program, served as a Civil Defense Director for the town of Brookfield, MA and has numerous hours of training in Civil Defense Management and Emergency Preparedness as a former member of the Massachusetts Army National Guard.
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Transfer of fuel rods at Pilgrim too risky, Jan. 10, 2015
(Cape Cod Times)
I realize the reason for transfer of fuel rods by Entergy Corp. into dry casks at Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth is to make room for even more dangerous irradiated rods into the existing overcrowded pool.
Transferring fuel rods is a very difficult, costly and hazardous process. There really is no safe dose of radiation, and transfer of fuel rods will involve increased radiation levels released into the environment.
How do we know this process will have no impact beyond the borders of the reactor? There are no monitors beyond the property’s borders. This process is strictly for profit, ignores public safety and allows the beautiful town of Plymouth to become a huge waste dump. It is Massachusetts’ responsibility to warn its citizens about all environmental dangers in its communities.
In addition to the threat of radiation leakage, these dry casks are being located only 25 feet above sea level. With global warming and storms increasing in severity, sea levels are rising worldwide. It logically follows that these casks might not be “dry” in the coming years.
Keeping the aged, outdated Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station open is unacceptable and a threat to our survival. Shut down Pilgrim!
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No Solomon’s Choice over nuclear plant
Dec. 14, 2014 (Cape Cod Times)
Frank Messmann wrote a thoughtful My View column last week on the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth. But it is dangerous, as well as foolhardy, to choose between two kinds of death: nuclear accident or fossil-fuel poisoning.
Indeed, the ongoing emissions from nuclear power plants, Pilgrim in particular, are serious, dangerous contaminants that affect all of us cumulatively on a daily basis. Thus, while an accident such as the one that occurred at Fukushima is not necessarily a foregone conclusion; nonetheless, the devastation from such an event is too catastrophic to imagine, and we must not take such a chance.
It is a “Solomon’s Choice” Mr. Messmann is suggesting we make. Shall we destroy ourselves with fossil fuels or nuclear power? I refuse to be forced into making such an absurd choice.
The answer to our energy challenge in this global community is the development of a green energy economy. Solutions exist. We can provide good jobs and a clean environment.
We must never settle for replacing one deadly energy source with another. Pilgrim must be shut as part of a global movement to save our planet from annihilation due to the dangers of both fossil fuels and nuclear power.
Margaret Rice Moir, of Brewster, is a member of Cape Downwinders.
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Nuclear no solution for global warming
Dec. 11, 2014 (Cape Cod Times)
In his Dec. 8 My View, Frank Messmann repeats the common misunderstanding that, since generating electricity via nuclear power produces no carbon dioxide, the dangers of global warming dictate that we should give it “a pivotal role.”
To his credit, he appropriately calls attention to the environmental issues and the need for much more effective countermeasures than we have seen so far. His conclusion that “there is no way to climate stabilization that does not include a pivotal role for nuclear power” is nevertheless quite mistaken. And his argument in no way backs up the headline’s bold and misleading assertion that nuclear is best.
He pins his hopes on Generation IV nuclear plants – which do not yet exist! He accepts all the industry’s claims for these wonders of the future uncritically.
Nuclear power fails the market test: None has ever been able to operate without massive governmental subsidies. Solar and wind are intermittent, but the research on various new types of energy storage proceeds apace. There is an opportunity cost for the iffy project of new types of reactors: The needed money would be better spent on this far more promising and widely useful work on energy storage R&D.
Robert R. Holt
The writer is professor of psychology emeritus at New York University.
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Force closure of Pilgrim nuclear plant
December 10, 2014 (My View in the Cape Cod Times)
I recently stocked up on potassium iodide pills (KI) at my health department to protect my family in case of a fatal accident at the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station. Even as I did so, I realized how futile taking these pills would be against the short- and long-term effects of such a radioactive catastrophe ‘ akin to taking a baby aspirin to counter a massive stroke. Further, KI works only temporarily to protect the thyroid gland from the effects of radiation, but doesn’t protect our other organs.
We on the Cape and Islands go about our daily lives hoping against hope that Pilgrim, with its record of malfunctions, its vulnerability to acts of nature, human error and even terrorism, will not turn into a Fukushima-like event that would make life here impossible. Here are some relevant facts:
- Pilgrim was No. 1 in shutdowns among U.S. nuclear plants last year because of internal failures.
- Though Pilgrim is one of the nine most troubled nuclear plants in the nation, at the age of 40 years it was granted a renewed license of 20 years by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission two years ago.
- ‘Five other of the most dangerous nuclear plants in the U.S. were shut down over the past two years.
- ‘Japan has now closed 48 of its nuclear plants; Germany has closed eight and uses solar and other renewables to compensate, making it a world leader.
We must not feel helpless in the face of Pilgrim’s hold on us, nor by the NRC’s failure to carry out its legal mandate to protect our citizens’ health (serving instead as the nuclear industry’s lapdog).
Indeed, the NRC itself has given us the opening for Gov. Deval Patrick to take action now in shutting down Pilgrim and setting in motion its cleanup. NRC’s chairwoman, Allison Macfarlane, clarified last March that it is up the state to guarantee effective evacuation in the event of a nuclear catastrophe at Pilgrim. But with no such evacuation humanly possible, given our geography, our governor has the legal obligation to protect public health and property by demanding ‘ not asking ‘ that the NRC close Pilgrim for good.
This closure will mean that electricity will come temporarily from other sources, as it does now during Pilgrim slowdowns and shutdowns. But the hidden blessing here is that we will as a region and state accelerate our transition to renewable energy, whether it be solar, wind, or tidal, possibly adding natural gas to the mix if timely and warranted. This is Massachusetts, after all, tech-savvy and with feisty citizens rising to meet new challenges over its long history. Each of us is therefore part of the equation in our daily lives by conserving energy in our homes and businesses, now and in the future.
Here is how to reach Gov. Patrick to express your concerns and to demand action in closing Pilgrim:
- ‘Call his office at 617-725-4005; keep trying if lines are tied up.
- ‘Write him at the Statehouse, Room 360, Boston, MA 02133.
- ‘Send emails to email@example.com.
Be the squeaky wheel. Be the voice of your family, friends and neighbors. Remember, you are not alone: 73 percent of Cape and Islands residents who voted in the past November election supported the nonbinding referendum that, for all intents and purposes, would close Pilgrim. Our fears for people’s health and property trump the monster in our midst.
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‘ Mimi McConnell lives in Cotuit.
Protesters were realizing King’s vision
Nov. 24, 2014 (‘My View’ in the Cape Cod Times)
In his Nov. 4 letter, Harold K. Isham Jr. challenges the intent of the “Four Grandmothers” in the Pilgrim Nuclear trial and suggests we showed disdain for the court process. On the contrary, with all due respect to our rights as citizens, we were addressing a most serious matter to the court. Our actions were meant to bring alive Dr. Martin Luther King’s expression of creative tension, which he described in “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” Creative tension occurs when a community confronted with an issue dramatizes it so that it can no longer be ignored.
The Honorable James Sullivan heard our closing statement:
“On Mother’s Day 2014, Cape Downwinders held a rally in St. Catherine’s Chapel Park and march to the Pilgrim nuclear power reactor in Plymouth. We called for the closing of Entergy Corporation’s Pilgrim Nuclear Power Reactor because our children and future generations are at risk to the damage of ionizing radiation.
The Mother’s Day proclamation written and read by grandmother Sarah Thacher that day is as follows:
‘This Mother’s Day action is an expression of our rage against a polluting nuclear reactor and our love for all children. This is not about an accident happening in the future. It is about an ongoing accident occurring daily.
We have stood by and watched our air and water become polluted. The incredibly high cancer rates have become acceptable. We are churning out more and more radioactive waste with no place to go but into our own backyards and Cape Cod Bay … or to be vented, leaked, and dribbled into our atmosphere.
As mothers and grandmothers (who are now paying attention) we want this poisoning to stop. We are here to put our bodies on the line with an apology, that we didn’t understand earlier about this evil that is being perpetrated on our children and generations to come.
Our job is to see Pilgrim shut down and cleaned up.’
As grandmothers (looking back on two generations for Mary and me, and for Susan and Sarah, three) we have a joyful and solemn responsibility to make sure our children are safe. With the tragic lessons learned from Fukushima mothers, we will protect the children.
We act on a moral imperative with civic responsibility. The ongoing operation of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Reactor in Plymouth is a crime beyond what we four grandmothers have been charged with. Damaging and killing of life from exposure to ionizing radiation and the imminent threat of a catastrophic accident that is already acknowledged to be a viable event is a far greater crime than the gentle affirming actions of four loving grandmothers.
Your Honor, with our testimony presented, we hope that you will come to the conclusion that the four grandmothers did not commit a crime of trespassing but, rather, with clarity and compassion, are calling attention to the alarming truth: that Entergy Corporation’s operation of Pilgrim Nuclear on the shores of Cape Cod Bay is the real threat and danger to our beautiful children and our beloved community, trespassing on all of us every single day in a most serious and deadly capacity.
In closing, Mother’s Day founder Julia Ward Howe exclaimed: ‘Arise all women who have hearts, whether your baptism be that of water or tears! Say firmly we will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies.’
Most Honorable Judge Sullivan, we four grandmothers stand in your court as a serious expression of the unwillingness of the government to protect the people and seek your confirmation that our peaceful actions are urgently meaningful for the protection of our children and future generations.
Otherwise, with broken hearts, we will regretfully apologize to our children once again.”
Diane Turco of Harwich is a co-founder of Cape Downwinders.
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Keep KI on hand in case of nuclear event
Nov. 23, 2014 (in the Cape Cod Times)
During the recent trial of the four Cape grandmothers who trespassed on the Plymouth Nuclear Power Station property as an act of civil disobedience, Dr. Helen Caldicott testified. Dr. Caldicott founded Physicians for Social Responsibility, forerunner of International Physicians for Prevention of Nuclear War, which received the Nobel Peace Prize.
During her testimony, she discussed the possibility of a Fukushima-like accident at Plymouth, and the use of potassium iodide (KI) in such an event. Since a blowout at Plymouth would spew multiple dangerous radioactive substances into our air, water, soil and bodies, she made the point that KI would protect only the thyroid gland of exposed children and adults. KI would not prevent other sequelae such as leukemias, other cancers, birth defects, miscarriages, or radiation poisoning.
Though it did not make it into the newspaper reports, she stressed that KI should be used as recommended as long as we did not thus have a false sense of security that it would protect any other body system except the thyroid.
Stephanie Wall, M.D.
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Undocumented claims on Pilgrim worthless
Nov. 23, 2014 (in the Cape Cod Times)
The letter by Frank Messmann in Monday’s Cape Cod Times, patronizes our superbly well-informed Senator Dan Wolf as “well intended” but “misguided in wanting to close down Pilgrim” nuclear plant. Dr. Messmann has been a diligent proponent of nuclear power, having written a good many other letters to papers, promoting the notion that it is the only answer to our future energy needs. Actually, he pins his hopes on the as-yet undeveloped thorium reactors, scornfully rejecting green, renewable energy sources as pie in the sky, though the widely respected expert Amory Lovins has produced hard data demonstrating that just these thoroughly developed sources are in many ways better than nuclear. They cost less, can be put on line much faster, and have no problems of fuel supply or waste disposal. Their share of energy supply is therefore growing at an astonishing rate, while that of nuclear power is shrinking.
Messmann’s doctorate is in Political Science, and there is no reason to take at face value his undocumented claim about nuclear power that “the plants, including Pilgrim, are safe now and can remain so indefinitely”–even when some of them will be “using designs as much as 100 years old!” Would even such a zealot feel comfortable driving a car of similar vintage on a highway today?
Robert R. Holt
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DeMacedo must address Cape’s nuclear concerns
Nov. 7, 2014 (in the Cape Cod Times)
Sen. Vinny deMacedo made a promise to the Cape Downwinders that he would work across the aisle and support residents of Sen. Dan Wolf’s district to expand the plume exposure zone.
Mr. deMacedo must realize he no longer works for just Plymouth residents. His primary concern there was for the jobs and the money Entergy’s plant brought to that town. He now must consider that, in addition to all the towns that voted to close the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station, tens of thousands in Wolf’s district voted for the plume exposure zone be expanded to include all the towns on the Cape and Islands.
Cape Codders now are expected in the event of an incident at Pilgrim to stand aside, shelter in place and be exposed to radionuclides, with ingestion of contaminated food and water banned. In the likelihood of wind directed toward our precious homes and land, we would also inhale these radioactive particles, more deadly than just swallowing them.
Jobs are of utmost importance, but jobs would remain were Pilgrim decommissioned, as many workers would be needed to clean up the remaining waste – the most toxic waste known to man. Replacement with present technology should be the vision of the future.
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Anti-nuclear defendants respectful in court
November 4, 2014 (in the Cape Cod Times)
Harold K. Isham Jr.’s Nov. 4 letter makes questionable assumptions about the defendants’ attitudes and motives. He states “These women used the court for their own purposes” and “What was especially irritating was how arrogant they looked. Their disdain for the court process showed.”
I was at Plymouth District Court for the entire trial and saw in the four defendants neither arrogance nor disdain. They showed respect for the court and its process; dignity in response to questioning by attorneys; and a sincere desire to change a situation which they – mothers, grandmothers and great-grandmothers – see as a threat to themselves, and their loved ones, including future generations.
Mr. Isham says, “They were found guilty, but not really punished.” Three of the defendants received one year’s probation and must pay monthly probation costs; Mary Conathan, a first-time offender, had to pay a $100 fine. I believe Judge Sullivan showed fairness in deciding not to incarcerate all four defendants, but this was not a given at the outset.
We are indeed fortunate to live in a country whose legal system ensures that those who are brought to trial are treated fairly, and with respect and dignity.
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NRC protects the industry – not the American public
September 26, 2014 (in the Cape Cod Times)
The New York Public Interest Research Group tried for years to get the Indian Point nuclear plant closed. The plant’s evacuation plan wasn’t worth the paper it was written on. New York roads would be at a standstill within minutes.
New York City is 25 miles from Indian Point; one-tenth of the U.S. population lives within 50 miles. We intervened in Nuclear Regulatory Commission hearings on the Indian Point licenses (along with the Union of Concerned Scientists, New York City Council members, Audubon, Friends of the Earth, and many community groups).
Our witnesses were police chiefs, county officials, ambulance and bus drivers, scientists, economists, schoolteachers, parents, seniors, disabled people ‘ all testifying that the evacuation plans wouldn’t work. The NRC’s Licensing Board judges got stuck on a local road during a mild snowfall and couldn’t make a scheduled hearing. So much for the approved evacuation plan!
We failed. Surprised? The NRC protects the nuclear industry, not the public.
We’re told an accident is improbable. But it is possible in out-of-control circumstances (including severe weather events, aging equipment, human error, sabotage). The consequences of a major accident at any nuclear power plant are totally unacceptable.
Close Pilgrim; close Indian Point; close them all!
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Threats posed by Pilgrim are more than ‘logistical’
September 20, 2014 (in the Cape Cod Times)
I am concerned that your Sept. 14 editorial, “Tipped off,” didn’t go far enough in talking about evacuating the Cape if there is a radiological accident at the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station.
The Massachusetts Emergency Management Authority has stated that in the event of an accident, at least one bridge would not be available to those attempting to leave the Cape. Even if it were possible to use the Bourne and Sagamore bridges, vehicles exiting the Cape would travel directly toward Pilgrim; these are more than “obvious logistical issues.”
The editorial states, “just because something is difficult or even near impossible does not mean it is not worth attempting,” a well-meaning statement that ignores a solution many ‘ including state Sen. Dan Wolf ‘ have proposed: Close Pilgrim!
There would be challenges if Pilgrim were decommissioned, including storage of spent fuel rods and financial concerns for those whose livelihood is connected to the plant. However, each day that it remains open places all of us on the Cape at serious risk.
Sen. Wolf said, “I don’t understand why we should be asked to tolerate the potential risk of an event that exposes us so disproportionately.” Neither do I!
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The undeniable truth
Sep. 13, 2014 (Wicked Local Plymouth – Plymouth, MA)
David Noyes, regulatory and performance director at Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station, stated in a letter to the editor that a recent column by Meg Sheehan, Ecolaw environmental advocate, was a disservice to readers. This letter is in and of itself a disservice to those readers who’ve become aware of what is happening at Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station. It is worth noting that he and other employees of the PNPS have spent a lot of time touting the safety and the importance of the plant to Plymouth and the environs. But this is a paid employee who has drunk the Kool-Aid and is trying to put a good face on this aging major catastrophe waiting to happen and in so doing is putting out untruths and outright misinformation.
The plant is in a coastal zone, with low level radioactive waste sitting close to the shoreline which, according to substantiated climate studies by national and local scientists is subject to increasingly higher tides. With thousands and thousands of acres of land owned by Entergy, they’ve chosen to build storage pads to store spent fuel rod assemblies in perpetuity, close to the reactor, said by the PNPS communications director that the reason to do so was because it is less expensive than higher ground, higher ground would mean safer grounds. In the meantime, the corporation went forward with building without proper permitting. Entergy’s ongoing construction of the nuclear waste dry cask storage facility should be closely monitored in relation to sea level fluctuations and flooding risk. Storing high level nuclear waste in a coastal zone, below a safe elevation (at approximately 24 feet above mean sea level) is a serious concern. In addition, Entergy also stated that they “don’t monitor the tides” at Pilgrim. How can they also claim that Pilgrim is a “dry site” if they don’t monitor how high the tides reach onto the site?
As to Noyes’ statement that the Pilgrim is required by permits with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, state Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to make sure the water that is used and returned to the environment meets clean water standards. Nonsense, no, a lie. Under the Clean Water Act, Entergy was issued a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit. The NPDES permit is intended to regulate discharge of pollutants to CCB. Entergy’s NPDES permit is based on outdated information and has been expired for at least 18 years. A fact. Not telling the whole truth is just lying. Under the Clean Water Act, a notice of intent to sue letter went to Entergy and state and federal regulators. The letter outlines Pilgrim’s 33,000+ violations of the federal Clean Water Act. The letter is based on Entergy’s own reporting of the violations.
The pollution that Noyes denies existing is another obfuscation. Denial that tritium was leaking has gone on for years, always saying that the leak could not be found. And tritium pollution is a serious radiological pollutant. It is a carcinogenic pollutant. The American Academy of Science states that any dose of radiation can cause cancer, that no amount is safe.
The water that goes through the plant and is pumped out into Cape Cod Bay is a thermal pollutant, as well. In raising the temperature of the water that flows into the Bay it kills thousands upon thousands of fish, phytoplankton and larval forms of life.
Meanwhile, the Nuclear Energy Institute, one of the largest lobbying forces in Congress, is spending thousands upon thousands of dollars in full-page color ads, radio ads, financing polls that are weighted by members of NEI to paint as rosy a picture as possible to the wonders of the PNPS, lulling and dulling the minds of the readers and residents who live in the shadow of the U.S. 2013 lead plant due to shutdowns because of malfunctioning gauges, pipes, monitors… the list goes on and on. It is an economically floundering corporation. The NRC, who didn’t even take climate change into consideration in relicensing this plant, walks hand in hand with this in our world of corporatocracy, certainly not the democracy that we are always seeking to have.
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‘Shelter in place’ is unacceptable advice
September 13, 2014 (in the Cape Cod Times)
The committee that produced the instruction sheet for use in case of an accident at the aging, failing Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station informs Cape Codders how to “shelter in place.” At the same time, it highlights the inordinate danger we are subjected to from this power plant which, by ISO New England estimates, provides us with around 5 percent of our energy.
Protecting the thyroid for a day with pills supplied by Entergy does not address the toxicity from cesium, strontium and the other nuclides that will also be released and which are known to cause cancer, birth defects and death.
Also, it would be important to note that on the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency website, the Page 2-6 of the radiological emergency response plan states: “Generally, sheltering-in-place can provide significant protection for about 2 hours in small residential structures. Larger masonry structures can provide protection for up to 5 hours.”
Should a radioactive plume be released, the “ingestion zone” extends 50 miles, encompassing Boston, Providence and the Cape and Islands. The risk to the region and its millions of inhabitants bodes long-term devastation and is entirely unacceptable.
Please pressure elected officials to close Pilgrim; and consider this issue when voting.
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Entergy’s defense doesn’t undo the damage
August 09, 2014 (in the Cape Cod Times)
Entergy’s recent defense of its operations is both disingenuous and false.
First, Entergy has not demonstrated the plant is safe, either in the short or long term. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission downgraded the performance rating of the Pilgrim plant in 2013 because of an excessive number of shutdowns.
Second, Entergy has misled the public on its safety and failed to report that it is housing more than 3,000 highly radioactive spent fuel bundles in “wet storage” pools designed to hold only 880 bundles. Entergy is building dry-cask storage facilities at Pilgrim, which means spent nuclear fuel will be housed there permanently for decades to come.
Third, Entergy failed to tell the public the Cape has no evacuation plan for the more than 200,000 Cape residents who stand to receive toxic nuclear radiation if the plant experiences a catastrophic event.
Fourth, this 42-year-old nuclear power plant is identical in design to the Fukushima plants that were devastated by an earthquake and tsunami. Entergy claims to have numerous backup systems in place’a 2nd electricity transmission line, portable generators, and a mysterious cooling pump system that does not require electricity. I am not convinced!
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Jalopy nuclear reactors can’t compete with green
August 03, 2014 (in the Cape Cod Times)
John Tudor’s July 19 letter supporting nukes ignores the realities of an industry that for decades said a commercial reactor could not explode … but has now brought us a barely contained explosion at Three Mile Island, a huge one at Chernobyl and now four more at Fukushima. The four exploded Fukushima reactors are virtually identical to those used at the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station and at 22 others in the U.S.
For years the industry denied any fuel melted at TMI ‘ until robotic cameras showed otherwise.
It still denies anyone died at TMI. But the epidemiological data show otherwise (see www.nukefree.org). A survey of 5,000 studies at Chernobyl shows more than a million deaths worldwide. At Fukushima, downwind childhood thyroid cancers and abnormalities are 40 times normal. Studies from Germany and elsewhere show heightened cancer rates among people living nearby, and significant improvements in public health when those reactors shut.
Germany is making a successful transition into renewables. Our choice has never been between fossil fuel and nuclear power. Those two industries are inseparable.
Instead our choice is between superheated/radioactive extinction, or switching to a green-powered Earth. Jalopy reactors like Pilgrim can no longer compete.
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Cape is being regarded as Pilgrim’s collateral damage
July 16, 2014 (in the Cape Cod Times)
It is appalling to realize that should a major accident occur at Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station we will be told to “shelter in place”; the bridges will be closed.
Later officials in protective gear will arrive to assess the situation. We will not be evacuated; we will be “relocated.” Kurt Schwartz, head of the Massachusetts Emergency Planning Agency, states we do not need to worry because the inhalation zone extends only for 10 miles from the plant. Unfortunately, the next 40 miles are in the ingestion pathway, which effectively means our cancers will take longer to develop.
Entergy, the owner of Pilgrim, is mandated by the state to distribute potassium iodide (KI) tablets to all towns within a 50-mile radius of the pant. KI protects from radioactive iodine, which causes thyroid cancer. Boston did not receive KI tablets. Cape Cod and the islands received them. That means we have no alternative other than taking the direct hit. No evacuation, no shelters. We are expendable.
Collateral damage, if you will. It is time to close the power plant for good.
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We need more than ‘shelter in place’
July 11, 2014 (My View in the Cape Cod Times)
The June 10 My View commentary by Diane Turco caught my attention, especially after the discussions we’d just had at our Cape Cod National Seashore Advisory Commission meeting the previous day. A significant part of our meeting was set aside to discuss the concerns we have with the continued operation of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station.
One of our commissioners reported on his experience at a recent meeting held in Plymouth sponsored by Entergy, which he attended. We also discussed the progress that has been made making the public more aware of the potential dangers that exist by operating an old plant bulging with expended fuel rods.
Thanks to Ms. Turco and others, there is mounting support from our federal and state representatives to put pressure on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to take a harder look at its vote to allow Pilgrim another 20 years of operation, and the consequences if there is a radiological catastrophe.
However, there is much more to be accomplished. For example, I believe the evacuation plan for Cape Cod should not be “shelter in place”! Let’s face it, if there were a catastrophe at Pilgrim, there would be chaos on the roads because people are not going to wait for contamination to arrive at their front doors! As Ms. Turco so eloquently stated, “Pilgrim presents an unacceptable risk to the lives and safety of us all.”
The plan for Cape Codders and visitors to shelter in place if a radiological catastrophe occurs is inconceivable, ill-advised and makes no sense. Granted, moving people off Cape is not a simple matter, especially in July and August. But there must be a plan that gives us a chance, and shelter in place is not the answer. We must continue to ratchet up the pressure on the NRC and our state and federal representatives to scrap “shelter in place” and come up with a real plan to move people to safety. We also must continue to pressure the NRC to re-evaluate its claim that Pilgrim is safe to continue operations.
I believe the advisory commission’s decision to look at potential economic impacts to Cape Cod if a radiological incident occurred at Pilgrim was a great approach to get the attention of businesses, banks and real estate agents. What would happen if the Cape were highly contaminated, at levels that would leave this beautiful peninsula uninhabitable? What would happen to the mortgages the banks are holding, real estate values or the tourist industry?
At the request of the advisory commission and the superintendent of the Cape Cod National Seashore, a paper was written by a doctoral student titled “An Analysis of the Impact of a Disaster at the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant on the Economy of Cape Cod” and is available at www.nps.gov/caco/parkmgmt/upload/PilgrimreportimpactfinalV7.pdf. This paper was written to promote discussion and encourage public comment on this topic. Please visit this site.
Don Nuendel lives in Eastham.
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Nuclear power plants are far from clean
July 05, 2014 (in the Cape Cod Times)
In response to the letters of April 17 and May 20 written by two employees of Entergy Corp., owners of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station, claiming the station is “carbon free” and not polluting to the atmosphere, those statements are misleading and untrue. The energy used to mine uranium, which is the life blood of a nuclear plant, is fossil fuel ‘ the kind of energy the nuclear plant claims they are replacing.
First, nuclear power plants are not autonomous. The unseen steps behind bringing a nuclear power plant online begins with the production of fossil fuel and the production of more carbon dioxide. The mining and milling of uranium is a complex process: excavating the rock, bulldozing, shoveling, transporting it via trucks, grinding the uranium-bearing rock. All these machines use diesel oil and electrical-powered mills for the rock grinding.
One of the best studies by Jan Willem Storm van Leeuwen and Philip Smith, titled “Nuclear Power-Energy Balance,” concludes that under the most favorable conditions, the use of nuclear power causes about one-third as much carbon dioxide emission as a gas-fired electricity production. The only thing green about a nuclear plant is the money!
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Urge Patrick to seek closure of Pilgrim
July 03, 2014 (in the Cape Cod Times)
After recently downgrading Plymouth’s Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant, NRC Chairwoman Allison Macfarlane has finally clarified Gov. Deval Patrick’s power to shut down Pilgrim “if no viable evacuation plan” is possible. Writing the NRC this March, the governor said, “the unique geographical relationship between Pilgrim and the communities of Cape Cod and Southeast Massachusetts could put those residents at serious risk.” Joining him is Sen. Edward Markey, who calls Pilgrim “a disaster waiting to happen.” State Sen. Daniel Wolf has called for a “plan for decommissioning that … protects the public safety.”
The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency has already admitted that there is no plan for Cape residents except to “shelter in place” and wait.
It’s clear: Closing Pilgrim is the only sensible and responsible way for the governor to proceed. Patrick can leave office with a milestone accomplishment ‘ closing an outdated and dangerous nuclear plant whose energy we don’t need and a nuclear waste dump on the shores of Cape Cod Bay that endangers our children just to protect Entergy profits. Time to write and call Gov. Patrick to act. Time to make sure gubernatorial candidates seeking Cape voter support are on public record to shut Pilgrim.
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Cape Downwinders cares about Pilgrim workers
June 27, 2014 (in the Cape Cod Times)
In his letter June 22 regarding Cape Downwinders, Stephen Boyson suggests the group uses propaganda. The facts we state are from documented sources, particularly from the state, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and Union of Concerned Scientists.
Gov. Deval Patrick also shares our concerns. Cape Downwinders is about education, not propaganda.
Entergy is a for-profit corporation. Yes, there are donations and tax revenue, but that masks the dangers of the reactor. During the strike of 2012, union president Daniel Hurley said: “Entergy makes a million dollars a day in profits from Pilgrim Nuclear and yet company executives are threatening the safety of our communities by trying to replace highly skilled veteran workers with outside contractors who have little or no knowledge of this facility.” That worker strike was over safety, staffing and health care issues, which speaks volumes of how Entergy treats its employees.
Is there a contingency plan in place today for workers when Entergy isn’t making enough profit and shutters Pilgrim like it did with Vermont Yankee?
Cape Downwinders has never criticized the Pilgrim workers and calls for responsible assistance to those affected when Pilgrim does close. We all care about our families and community. That is why Cape Downwinders calls for closing Pilgrim.
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State evacuation plan for Pilgrim endangers Cape
June 26, 2014 (in the Cape Cod Times)
Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chair Allisan Macfarlane rightly responded to Gov. Deval Patrick, when she wrote: “The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has a significant role in determining the adequacy of Pilgrim’s Emergency Preparedness program.”
Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency has approved the 10-mile evacuation plan for decades despite the fact that the plan endangers everyone on Cape Cod. MEMA should never have approved a plan that puts citizens of the commonwealth at risk. Nor should MEMA spokesman Peter Judge have falsely claimed “nothing could be further from the truth” when he denied Cape Downwinders statement that the canal bridges could be closed in the event of an emergency at Pilgrim. That’s been the state-approved plan since 1989.
If there were an accident at Pilgrim today, sheltering may be the best protection we have. But since the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Livermore Laboratory estimates that sheltering in a wooden home’s basement provides only a 10 percent dose reduction, sheltering-in-place is really a “shut up, sit down, and eat your cesium” policy.
Designed to last 40 years, Pilgrim has operated for 42 years; locating it in Plymouth was a stupid idea. Quitting while we’re ahead is the only prudent course available.
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Who includes Chernobyl on their travel itinerary?
June 25, 2014 (in the Cape Cod Times)
In his June 22 letter, Stephen Boyson states that Cape Downwinders ignore the “human aspects” of closing the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station. He laments the negative economic impact he believes it would have on “our neighbors and friends.”
In the event of a nuclear accident, all of our neighbors and friends would be exposed to cancer-causing radiation. We have been assured that we could decrease our risk of getting thyroid cancer by simply taking a potassium iodide pill. That is about as illogical as saying the way to decrease shooting deaths would be to have everyone wear a bulletproof vest.
We need to eliminate the source of the potential calamity rather than planning on how to deal with the horrific consequences once a hazardous event finally occurs.
Cape Downwinders want Pilgrim shut down because it has a legitimate concern about the threat to the health and well-being of all citizens of Cape Cod and the South Shore. It also realizes that the Cape’s economy would be devastated by a nuclear accident. After all, who includes Chernobyl or Fukushima on their travel itinerary?
It is obvious that Mr. Boyson’s “human-aspects” arguments do not pass the important public safety test. That is a test the Pilgrim power plant often fails as well.
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Add earthquakes to list of Pilgrim hazards
June 18, 2014 (in the Cape Cod Times)
I read with great interest a recent column written by Diane Turco calling attention to the danger posed to the public by the densely packed spent fuel rods, which are currently stored at the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth. The very same day, I received a letter from my insurance company encouraging me to add earthquake coverage to my homeowner’s policy. The flyer stated:
“Recently the Central United States Consortium on Earthquakes indicated that there is a 40 percent to 60 percent chance that we will experience a better than 6-point earthquake in the near future. Also, they point out that there is an 80 percent chance we’ll have an 8 point or higher quake by 2025. Recent earthquake activity in New England gives us considerable cause for concern.”
Well, for a long time I have had considerable concern regarding the hazards posed by the aging Pilgrim plant for the very reasons elucidated by Ms. Turco’s column. Now I will add to that list the impact an 8-point earthquake might have on 3,200 highly radioactive spent fuel rods remaining in a pool designed to hold 880 ‘ a highly dangerous situation even without an earthquake.
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