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Mr. MARKEY. I would like now to recognize the Congressman from this District, a gentleman who has requested this hearing, and upon whose judgment and guidance this Subcommittee has greatly relied in the formulation of this hearing, and who has been an important force in ensuring the focus of this hearing is upon the issues that the people of the communities that he represents want to see dealt with properly.
I recognize for an opening statement the Congressman from this District, Nick Mavroules.
Mr. MAVROULES. Thank you. Thank you, Eddie, very much.
Mr. MARKEY. I request once again, although I do not deny that the Congressman deserves a round of applause, that you please refrain from any further.
STATEMENT OF HON. NICHOLAS MAVROULES, A REPRESENTA.
TIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF MASSACHUSETTS Mr. MAVROULES. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Let me thank you for holding this hearing to address the numerous questions and problems associated with the operation of the Seabrook nuclear power plant.
This issue has caused a great deal of constituent concern here in the Sixth Congressional District. We meet today in Amesbury be cause it is one of six towns in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, all within the Sixth Congressional District, that lie within the 10mile emergency planning zone. These six towns include Newburyport, Newbury, West Newbury, Salisbury, Merrimac, and Amesbury.
We are all very concerned about the inherent risks which are connected with the operation of the plant. I have heard from hundreds of you, local and State officials, citizens groups and individuals, all clamoring for a chance to make your concerns known.
Let me read for the record, Mr. Chairman, excerpts from several constituent letters which have moved me to take action and call for this hearing. Their voices are very clear, consistent, and ring with sincerity and genuine concern.
First, from a constituent in West Newbury, he states: Though I have never written to you before, I'm tired of feeling as if I have no control or say in decisions that will affect my life and possibly future generations. As a representative for the people, I hope you will listen to the concerns of people like me and take action on this matter.
From a letter written by Mr. Tom Moughan, the Amesbury coordinator for Citizens Within the Ten Mile Radius:
I'm angry, he states, angry that an industry such as Seabrook ... can have such a profound effect on our future and those with us today and the future of unborn generations. I am angry that we are offered little say in something that affects all of us.
From a constituent in Hamilton, beyond the ten-mile emergency planning zone:
I am writing you because of my deep concern regarding the possible opening of the nuclear power facility at Seabrook. ... We feel that the Federal Government must be engaged in activity such as a public forum with the NRC where questions of evacuation plans may be addressed. We need hard facts and questions answered honestly.
And, finally, Mr. Chairman, from a constituent in Newburyport: The public is frustrated and in peril. We have nowhere to turn except to our Congressman.
The people want to hear those in decision-making positions answer some hard questions about Seabrook and the risks associated with its proposed operation. As a result of my request, Mr. Chairman, and Ed Markey's courtesy, they will now have that opportunity.
The primary focus of the hearing, as I understand it, will be emergency planning. The subject is of extraordinary importance and is particularly current in the light of Governor Dukakis' recent decision regarding the submission of emergency plans. Emergency planning for Seabrook has become the great issue of the day in the Sixth Congressional District, Mr. Governor.
It is this issue that has reached a critical mass with my constituents, who in their collective wisdom, have observed that the failure to have in place such an evacuation plan prior to the final approval of a site, prior to the commitment of vast resources, and prior to turning the first spadeful of earth that commences construction, that this failure is responsible for the flawed foundation upon which the entire NRC licensing process rests.
There is, however, Mr. Chairman, another subject that I feel compelled to touch upon, a subject that has created controversy and thereby clouded the issue. And, by addressing this matter, I hope that the Chairman and the subcommittee will be able to find answers and correct what I see as a most unfortunate development.
According to the Energy Reorganization Act of 1974, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission was established for the purpose of ensuring that the civilian uses of nuclear materials and facilities are conducted in a manner consistent with the public health and safety.
There is concern here in the Sixth Congressional District that in the rush to complete the licensing process and start operations, the NRC has lost sight of this core aspect of its charge—the protection of the public health and safety.
At this late date in the evolution of the Seabrook matter, public confidence in the process must somehow be restored. The public must be reassured that they have the right to demand every reasonable guarantee of safety, no matter what the cost.
Let me state that I am as concerned about the need for new energy sources as any other man or woman in this room. Let me also state, I am fully aware that our thriving New England economy is at risk if we cannot produce the energy necessary to meet our expanding energy needs.
But public health and safety must and will come first. If we cannot protect our people in the case of an accident at Seabrook, or if the technology is found to be unsafe or not up to standard, then alternative uses of the station must be vigorously pursued.
And, finally, Mr. Chairman, we come together today to ask some hard questions. We come together to learn. We come together in an effort to grant access to the public. Hopefully together, we can restore confidence in the process and find mutually agreeable solutions that are consistent with the public health and safety.
Thank you once again, Mr. Chairman, for this opportunity. Mr. MARKEY. The gentleman's time has expired. The subcommittee also has with it today two other Members of Congress, Con
gressman Chet Atkins from the State of Massachusetts, who is a member of the Interior Committee, which has jurisdiction over nuclear power oversight; and also with us today is Congressman Bob Smith from the State of New Hampshire, who clearly, as well, has a tremendous interest in the resolution of the issues.
We welcome them both to our subcommittee's deliberations and welcome their full participation at any point in the proceedings.
We now turn to our first panel that will testify today, and that panel is, indeed, a distinguished one and one that is a privilege for this Subcommittee to greet.
We have His Excellency the Governor of Massachusetts, Michael Dukakis. The Governor agonized for months over how to deal with the emergency planning question. In September, he reached a courageous decision not to submit such plans. I hope that he will illuminate our committee on his thinking, and I note as well that he is joined by Sharon Pollard, who is the Secretary of Energy for the State of Massachusetts, and Charles Barry, who is the Secretary for Public Safety.
We welcome you, Governor, and we look forward to your testimony.
TESTIMONY OF HON. MICHAEL S. DUKAKIS, GOVERNOR, COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS, ACCOMPANIED BY SHARON POLLARD, SECRETARY OF ENERGY
Governor DUKAkIs. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you all for giving me and giving us the opportunity to appear before you, especially in one of my favorite Massachusetts communities. Those of you who are historians know that this was the place that John Greenleaf Whittier lived in for much of his adult life, a member of the Massachusetts Legislature who ran for but never made it to Congress.
It is also the community where my mother came to teach in 1927 at the Junior High School, so there are some very close personal ties with Amesbury, and it is great to be with you.
Let me commend you for bringing this hearing to Amesbury, and also for your continuing effort to hold the nuclear program in this country to the highest levels of safety.
The issue of safety is what brings us here today, and specifically our obligation to protect the public from the consequences of an accident at Seabrook.
As Governor of Massachusetts, I have a very serious responsibility under Federal law and Federal regulations, and that is to determine the adequacy of emergency plans for the Massachusetts communities near Seabrook.
Let me state at the outset something that should be obvious: Emergency plans do not make a nuclear plant safe. A safe nuclear plant is a plant where accidents do not happen because of superior design, construction, management and maintenance.
As Chernobyl reminded us vividly, nuclear accidents have an extraordinary destructive potential no matter how unlikely we may think they are. Thus, we must concentrate our efforts on actions which will prevent accidents from happening.
In this, Mr. Chairman, you have shown great leadership over the years, and for this, we are all grateful.
Nevertheless, emergency planning is important. We saw this at Three Mile Island where so many public officials found themselves improvising a response to that emergency. And after Three Mile Island, the NRC wisely promulgated new rules which called upon the States to devise emergency evacuation plans and determine their adequacy before nuclear power plants could be licensed for operation.
In short, the NRC was acknowledging, and rightly so that accidents can happen. In fact, the Commission's emergency planning guidelines instruct Governors to assume that they will happen. Those guidelines instruct us to assume that they will happen. The Governors are not asked to make a judgment call on whether or not an accident will occur, and how bad it will be. The Governors are asked to prepare for a wide range of accidents, including the worst, and to certify that emergency plans have been devised which are adequate to protect the public health and safety.
Let me repeat that: that emergency plans must be adequate to protect the public health and safety in the event of a radiological emergency.
The guidelines do not say minimally adequate; they say adequate to protect the public health and safety.
Mr. Chairman, we have taken very seriously our obligation to apply this standard to emergency plans to Seabrook. I and Secretary Pollard, Secretary Barry, and all of us in the administration in Boston have spent months analyzing draft plans for Seabrook, and sifting through evidence from Chernobyl.
As nearly everyone knows, I announced my finding on September 20. I released a lengthy statement on my decision, and I have included that as part of my testimony with the committee, and I would urge the committee members and staff to review it in detail.
Mr. MARKEY. The testimony without objection will be included in the record in its entirety.
Governor DUKAKIS. But let me repeat just briefly some of the key points in that statement.
First, in instructing the Governors to prepare for a wide range of possible accidents, the Federal guidelines further instruct us that a major release of radiation can occur within 30 minutes after the onset of an accident at a nuclear plant, and that radiation can reach a radius of 5 miles within 2 hours.
Massachusetts Civil Defense employed a Federal computer model, the same model used by the State of New Hampshire, to make evacuation estimates in the Seabrook area.
Our evacuation time estimates for the six Massachusetts emergency planning communities range from 3 hours and 40 minutes, under the best conditions to 8 hours under the worst conditions.
If we assume, as we must, that the New Hampshire communities are evacuating at the same time, then those estimates would be even higher.
The evacuation time estimates are high for many reasons, but chief among them is the fact that in this area, we have many, many people, particularly during the summer and a very constricted road and transportation network.
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Plum Island, for example, is just a few miles from here. It is a very popular place to visit in the summer, and is served by a fairly narrow two-lane road. In short, Seabrook, quite simply, was a very poor place to build a nuclear plant. Years ago, before the NRC allowed the plant to begin construction, two Massachusetts Attorneys General, Bob Quinn and Frank Bellotti, warned the NRC that the site posed grave problems for emergency planning. Unfortunately, the NRC refused to listen to them until after Three Mile Island, and at that point Seabrook was already under construction.
There are other problems with Seabrook that the Chernobyl disaster brought home to us this year. After I suspended our Seabrook planning, I asked Professor Al Carnesale at the Kennedy School of Harvard to assist us in assessing that accident. In the weeks that followed, we concluded that the Soviets had suffered damage that was well beyond the level that we would find tolerable, but that in many respects they were very, very lucky.
In fact Chernobyl was in many ways a best-case accident, if there is such a thing. Its radioactive plume shot up to a very high altitude. Hot, dry weather helped lift the cloud up to a level where it was dispersed over a wide area. Prevailing winds blew the cloud to the west, away from populated areas, during the first crucial hours of the accident. If the winds had blown to the southeast, if weather conditions had been such at Chernobyl that winds had blown to the southeast toward the city of Kiev, a city of some three million people, we would have witnessed a disaster of immense proportions.
People living near the Chernobyl reactor benefited from heavy masonry construction which proved to be relatively good shelter.
Despite the fact that the Soviets had little advanced planning in place, they were able during those crucial early hours to prepare for mass evacuation and part of those people could stay in their apartments, and those apartments did, because of their construction, provide fairly adequate shelter.
When radiation reached a level at which Soviets' practice requires that evacuation takes place, the town of Pripyat was evacuated in a little over two hours.
If a serious accident and release of radiation occurred at Seabrook, it is not very likely, Mr. Chairman, that we would enjoy the same luck as the Soviets. The weather at Seabrook is extremely changeable, windy, and as we all know, hardly ever hot and dry. The predominant construction in the area is not masonry, but wood construction which offers minimal protection as shelter.
We have a huge summer population. It would be nearly impossible to shelter it all, much less adequately; and it would take hours to evacuate people.
When all the evidence was considered, I concluded that no emergency plan could adequately protect the public health and safety of the people who live in or visit or would be in those six communities.
And therefore I did not and will not submit evacuation plans.
Mr. MARKEY. Again, please, I ask the audience, in consideration of all the other people who are here and a number of witnesses
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