« PrécédentContinuer »
Alexander, Lawrence R., chairman, Joint Committee on Energy, Com-
monwealth of Massachusetts.
Miscellaneous correspondence to Chairman Markey ..............
Material submitted for the record by–Continued
Public Service of New Hampshire: Correspondence and responses to
subcommittee questions ......
Staff memorandum and chronology of meetings.
to subcommittee questions.....
setts, statement ......... Kerry, Hon. John, a U.S. Senator from the State of Massachusetts, state
ment ........... Kunin, Madeleine M., Governor, State of Vermont, letter, November 24,
1986 ........................................................... Lord, William S., selectman, Amesbury, MA:
Letter to Gov. Michael S. Dukakis from Office of the Mayor, city of
Newburyport, dated March 10, 1986 ...
committee questions. Speck, Samuel, former associate director for State and Local Programs
and Support, FEMA, affidavit.......... Sununu, Gov. John H., of New Hampshire: Correspondence with Chairman Markey concerning questions submitted and answers to the questions.....
EMERGENCY PLANNING AT SEABROOK
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 18, 1986
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
COMMITTEE ON ENERGY AND COMMERCE,
Amesbury, MA. The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 10 a.m. at the Amesbury High School, Amesbury, MA, Hon. Edward J. Markey chairman, presiding.
Mr. MARKEY. Today's hearing of the House Subcommittee on Energy Conservation and Power on the Seabrook nuclear power plant will now come to order.
I want to emphasize at the outset that I intend to conduct this hearing with the complete decorum that routinely characterizes Congressional hearings. I understand that passions on both sides of the issue run high. Nevertheless, whether you agree or disagree with the remarks of any particular speaker, I ask your cooperation in refraining from applause or derision. As Chairman of the sub committee, with special institutional responsibilities, I cannot and will not tolerate outbursts of any kind. Nobody's interests are served by disruptions to this hearing.
Before proceeding with the business of today's hearing, let me take a brief moment to eliminate any confusion about the focus of our hearing that might have arisen as a result of yesterday's press conference held by Public Service of New Hampshire. This hearing does not deal with the potential safety implications of alleged rampant drug and alcohol abuse at Seabrook. That very serious topic will be dealt with at the conclusion of the subcommittee's continuing investigation of that matter.
For today, I simply want to tell you that the subcommittee dic not initiate the drug and alcohol investigation on its own. It did so in response to the pleas of a significant number of former plant workers and medical professionals in the Seabrook vicinity, who in formed the subcommittee that drug and alcohol use during the con struction of the plant was so pervasive that it must have had ar. adverse impact on construction quality, and, therefore, ultimately on safety.
Quite frankly, these witnesses did not trust either the utility who they feared would intimidate and harass them, or the NRC, to un dertake this investigation.
As Chairman of the subcommittee with jurisdiction over all matters affecting nuclear energy, I would have been derelict in my obligations had I not undertaken an investigation of their allegations.
Until yesterday, Public Service of New Hampshire had been stonewalling. They had not made available any records sought by the subcommittee. They had prevented a key witness from being interviewed by the subcommittee. They had refused to even speak directly with the subcommittee staff, instead channeling all calls through legal counsel.
Yesterday marked the first glimmer of utility responsiveness to the subcommittee investigation. The timing and the manner of the utility's response, however, raise more questions than they answer. Although Public Service of New Hampshire unveiled a lot of favorable statistics, it sill has not provided the subcommittee access to the underlying records or to the records which the subcommittee understands exist which allegedly point in a very different direction. Statistics can tell a complete story, many stories, or almost any story you would like them to tell. The data released by the utility yesterday is not consistent with the evidence in the possession of the subcommittee.
Yesterday's utility press conference did not spell the end of the subcommittee's investigation but rather marked the beginning of the utility's cooperation in that investigation. The subcommittee's investigation will continue in a thorough, professional and deliberate fashion until I believe that reasonable conclusions and recommendations can be made.
My immediate concern is that yesterday's public relations ploy by Public Service of New Hampshire not divert people's attention from the extremely important subject of emergency planning, which is the focus of today's hearing. Resolution of the emergency planning issues to be discussed today will have a direct bearing on when and whether the Nuclear Regulatory Commission grants a full power operating license for Seabrook.
The purpose of today's hearing is to explore some of the serious issues related to emergency planning at the Seabrook nuclear power plant. The catastrophic reactor accident at Chernobyl has left all of us with no doubt that nuclear accidents can happen. The threat of an accident requires that regulatory authorities consider what actions must be taken to protect the public. The issues before us are not only questions of fact and judgment, but more importantly the integrity of the regulatory process by which such questions must be evaluated and decisions reached.
The subcommittee has conducted an investigation into how critical issues related to emergency planning at Seabrook have been addressed by the utility, Federal regulatory authorities, and State and local governments.
Although our investigation is not complete, what we have learned to date has been disturbing. We have uncovered a concerted effort by the utility, Public Service of New Hampshire, the Governor of New Hampshire, and the Staff of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to expedite the licensing process for Seabrook, even if that means excluding the legitimate interests and participation of the citizens of Massachusetts. Let me be specific.
When the Federal Emergency Management Agency wanted to defer an exercise of the New Hampshire emergency plans alone because those plans weren't very good and because when two states are involved FEMA prefers to hold a joint exercise. FEMA received a phone call from the White House urging them to proceed with an exercise for New Hampshire alone.
The FEMA official who received that phone call informed the subcommittee that the White House representative told him that he was contacting FEMA because Governor Sununu had been calling the White House to complain.
Moreover, when FEMA gave New Hampshire's emergency plans what amounts to failing grades, Governor Sununu phoned and threatened to “go to the White House to clean out [FEMA's] staff operation.”
Political interference and political intimidation have no place in the licensing process for Seabrook or any other nuclear plant. When it happens, the people have a right to know about it. Bringing it out into the bright light of public scrutiny is the best way to put a stop to it.
Unfortunately, the problems do not stop there. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the agency charged with protecting the public from the hazards of nuclear power, is also responsible for the licensing of nuclear power plants. Before a full power license can be issued, the NRC has to make a finding that an emergency plan exists which provides “reasonable assurance that public health and safety is not endangered by operation of the facility concerned.” Under NRC regulations now in force, such plans must cover a tenmile radius around the plant.
As you all know, six Massachusetts communities lie within that ten-mile radius. All six of those towns have refused to participate in the development of emergency plans for Seabrook. Similarly, Governor Dukakis has refused to submit plans for Massachusetts. All share the view that no emergency plan could adequately protect the health and safety of their citizens in the event of an accident. That view is also held by seven New Hampshire communities that also have declined to participate in the process.
So, the utility and the Governor of New Hampshire, both of whom want the plant to start up as quickly as possible, have a real problem on their hands. How can they get around recalcitrant Massachusetts whose border lies 2 miles, 690 feet from Seabrook?
One attractive option was for the utility to go to the NRC for an exemption from the emergency planning regulations to reduce the radius from the required 10 miles to only two miles. But the utility was not willing to submit a formal exemption request to the Commissioners without a clear indication that it would be granted.
Enter the NRC staff whose job is not just to provide technical comments to licensees, but also to make a recommendation to the Commissioners themselves on any exemption request of this nature and to participate itself as a party in the licensing proceeding.
For more than 15 months, the NRC staff has been assisting the utility in how best to support a petition for a reduced emergency planning zone. The NRC staff admonished the utility that it was going down the wrong path when it attempted to justify its scheme on the basis of recent general source term research.