Senator Wolf: Governor Baker’s off-hand comments on Pilgrim are irresponsible

Senator Dan Wolf
Massachusetts Cape & Islands District

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Seth Rolbein, Senior Adviser to Sen. Wolf September 3, 2015 c: 508-367-6044 Seth.Rolbein@MASenate.gov

BOSTON- Cape and Islands Senator Dan Wolf today urged Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker to reconsider comments from yesterday, get serious about the threat posed by the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth, and join responsible community leaders working to close the plant.

“On the very day that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) placed Pilgrim among the three worst reactors in our nation, our governor issued an off-hand, simplistic comment about the plant being ‘safe,'” said Wolf. “It is irresponsible for the governor of our Commonwealth, without due diligence, to make a comment like that instead of voicing concerns about what many of us know is the biggest public safety threat in Massachusetts.

“Pilgrim threatens not just the health of our communities, but our entire way of life,” Wolf continued. “Even a minor accident — and the plant has been forced into unplanned shutdowns multiple times in recent months — would destroy lives, destroy communities, destroy property values, and destroy our economy.

“How many warning signals do we need before we pay attention? How many shutdowns and NRC reports must we see before Governor Baker gets the message?”

Wolf applauded yesterday’s decision by the NRC to place Pilgrim in what is known as “Column 4,” the worst possible designation for a nuclear power plant still operating.

“But make no mistake,” Wolf added. “The NRC did this only because they had no choice. And they decided on this action even before the plant shut down yet again because of a problem in late August caused by an unexpected failure of a main steam valve.

“For Governor Baker to announce that he is going to ‘let them (the NRC) lead this one’ is to abandon our citizens. The NRC should not and cannot be the only watchdog of ourCommonwealth’s health and safety. As public officials, elected and appointed, we need to do

what it takes — whatever it takes — to end this public safety threat.

“Perhaps the governor isn’t aware that the former Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission voted against relicensing this plant for another 20 years, and then resigned soon after his vote was overridden. Perhaps the governor doesn’t know that for almost 20 years, this plant has been releasing almost 500 million gallons of water a day into Cape Cod Bay without earning a valid water discharge permit from the Environmental Protection Agency. Neither does the governor seem to recognize the compelling need to move 40 years’ worth of spent nuclear fuel into safer, more stable, less vulnerable, dry storage.

“And despite years of conversations and requests, no one has produced a credible short-term evacuation plan in the event of a serious accident, nor any longer term plan to address catastrophic losses to real estate and the tourist economy that an accident would create.

“Given all this, no responsible public official can say that this plant should be allowed to function for another 20 years. That is a legacy we cannot in good conscience leave to our children.

“Finally, let’s be clear that we don’t need this nuclear power plant. We have enough electricity without it, and we have enough talent and creative alternatives to transform our energy future without it.

“Governor Baker needs to get on the right side of science, and the right side of history,” Wolf concluded. “And he needs to do it right now.”

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State Senator Dan Wolf represents the Cape & Islands District, which includes Barnstable, Brewster, Chatham, Dennis, Eastham, Harwich, Mashpee, Orleans, Provincetown, Truro, Wellfleet and Yarmouth, in the county of Barnstable; Aquinnah, Chilmark, Edgartown, Gosnold, Oak Bluffs, Tisbury and West Tisbury, in the county of Dukes County; and Nantucket, in the county of Nantucket.

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