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MASSPIRG's testimony on nuclear safety

By Janet Domenitz
Executive Director

Today I joined my Summer Policy Intern, Emily Olson, at the State House (see photo below) to testify in favor of simultaneously improving safety standards for nuclear power stations and moving beyond nuclear power and embracing renewable energy sources. Read Emily's testimony to the Joint Committee on Public Health, asking them to protect Bay Staters and prevent any future nuclear power plants from being built.

 

                                                                 

           Good afternoon Chairwoman Hogan, Chairman Lewis, and members of the Committee. Thank you for this opportunity to present testimony today. My name is Emily Olson and I am a policy intern with MASSPIRG, a statewide, nonprofit organization working to promote the public interest in Massachusetts.

            Today, you have been hearing testimony regarding increasing safety measures for nuclear power stations and their surrounding areas. However, it seems to us that “nuclear safety” is itself an oxymoron. Nuclear power is not safe. We believe that every step to protect residents near the power station should be taken and there are bills today that aim to do that, and thus we support H. 2020, H.2030, and H.2031, which will increase public education and set emergency standards, increase monitoring of nuclear stations, and increase the protection radius and number of thyroid-blocking pills. Today, however, we want to say both no and yes: we want to say no to building any future around nuclear power, and yes to charting the path to renewables. 

We can take up an entire hearing itemizing all the reasons to say no. I am only going to list off a few that highlight how unsafe it is for both our health and environment. 

First, Nuclear power stations harm our lakes and other bodies of water. A recent study showed that Pilgrim takes up to 510 million gallons of seawater from the Cape Cod Bay and dumping it back in after it is heated and polluted, killing tens of millions of fish and billions of planktonic organisms each year.[1] 

Second, there is no way to safely get rid of the waste. Right now, we dig a deep hole and bury it, hoping it does not contaminate the area around it.

Third, nuclear power is being banned and phased out around the country and the world, including in Belgium, Germany, and Minnesota. Vermont Yankee, which closed right before the start of the new year, is one of 33 U.S. reactors to be permanently shut down,[2] the fourth to close in the past 2 years.[3]

Instead, we can create a future with renewables

Here’s the equation as we see it. In 2013, Governor Patrick set the goal of 1600 MW of solar by 2020, a goal that the Baker administration has committed to. When he stated this, we were producing around 400 MW of solar capacity. In the past two years, we have doubled this. In the next five years, if we don’t even improve, but just keep up this pace, and add 200 MW per year, we will be at around 1900 MW by 2020 completely getting rid of the need for the 667 MW of nuclear power from Pilgrim.

Renewable energy creates jobs. Massachusetts is now the second largest employer in the solar industry in the nation, employing 9400 people.[4] The Pilgrim Nuclear Plant employs 650 people.[5]

In conclusion, while we endorse all immediate safety measures and precautions to be taken for residents surrounding Pilgrim, we want this opportunity to enforce our position that Massachusetts should be on a path of renewable energy, not nuclear power.

Thank you.

 

[1] http://www.capecodbaywatch.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/June-8-2015-Press-Release.pdf

[2] https://www.iaea.org/PRIS/CountryStatistics/CountryDetails.aspx?current=US

[3] http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/energy/2015/01/150101-vermont-yankee-shutdown-us-nuclear-issues/

[4] https://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2015/02/12/massachusetts-becomes-second-biggest-employer-for-solar-power/YLSHGiMr3Mpfzv4lK5vymM/story.html

[5] http://casenergy.org/nuclear-basics/energy-in-your-state/massachusetts/

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