Boston: Turbine study, expanded emergency zone bills heard

South Shore and Cape Cod residents packed a hearing room at the state house Tuesday to testify in favor of three bills now under consideration by the legislature. One would create a 19-member commission to study the health effects of wind turbines. The other two would effect the Pilgrim nuclear power plant in Plymouth.

Pilgrim Nuclear Plant Safety Bills

State representative Jim Cantwell of Marshfield filed two bills, along with State Representative Sarah Peake of Provinctown, regarding safety at the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant and promoted them in a public hearing in the state house Tuesday.

One would increase the emergency zone from a 10 to a 20 mile radius. The U.S. government advised U.S. citizens in Japan after the Fukishima nuclear disaster to stay 50 miles from the site. Pilgrim has a similar design to the Fukishima plants. Increasing the zone would make more towns eligible for emergency response centers that could be used for any natural disaster.

The second bill would require the plant’s owner, Entergy Corporation of Louisiana, to pay up to $400,000 for radiological monitoring within the expanded zone. Currently, the plant has monitors onsite and the state has access to federal monitors in Boston and Worcester.

Another Cape Cod representative, Cleon Turner, who sits on the public health board, asked Tom Joyce, an Entergy lobbyist who spoke against the bills, why the corporation would not volunteer to make the changes. Joyce cited cost and injury to competitiveness.

“Well then,” Turner said, “I have to say Entergy is not a good neighbor.”

Many people testified to the absurdity of evacuating Cape Cod over the two bridges in case of an accident. Prevailing winds blow across Cape Cod Bay from Plymouth. Turner repeated the phrase on Cape Cod bumper stickers, “Swim East.”

Wind Turbine Study Bill

Peake filed a bill that would create the commission to study potential health effects of large wind turbines. Neighbors of the turbines in Kingston and Scituate testified in support. Committee members appeared very receptive to the idea.

Kingston resident Dan Kennedy testified in support of the bill, but called it “too little, too late”–something that should have happened before the turbines went up.

Scituate resident, and large turbine opponent activist Jerry Kelly spoke at the hearing. He spoke in favor of a bill to establish a commission to study the health effects of large wind turbines. But he criticized the proposed make-up of the commission, asking for fewer political appointments.

Roxanne Zak of the Sierra Club surprised people in the room testifying in favor of the bill. She said the country needs alternative energy, but that large turbines belong in large places like Texas.

The committee will make recommendations regarding the bills to the full house and senate.

About Charles Mathewson

Charles Mathewson is a reporter at WATD.