NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

February 3, 2012

Seabrook evacuation plan still lacking

To the editor:

I was delighted to read that Councilor Dick Sullivan Jr. mentioned the issue of evacuation in the context of the discussion of extending Seabrook Station's operating license. Evacuation concerns, especially during the summer months, were a concern from the start and were raised back when the original license was being discussed — and Dick Sullivan Sr. was the mayor!

I was one of the "citizen members" of the official committee formed to evaluate the Seabrook evacuation plan, and I can assure you that it is faulty almost to the point of being a joke. For example, among the planning assumptions, you will find no allowance for any sort of traffic problem — no stalls, flat tires, fender benders ... nothing. The assumption is that vehicular traffic will simply flow, just as smoothly as you please. Anyone who has braved Hampton Beach traffic on a hot summer weekend can surely challenge that assumption! When I raised this issue in the committee, and an impasse seemed to be developing, the chairman was abruptly replaced by someone more "agreeable" to licensing. As one of his first official decisions, the new chairman flatly declared that the committee would not be allowed to challenge any of the plan's assumptions.

I also raised the issue at a public hearing in Hampton, N.H., attended by representatives of the NRC. I asked why, if an acceptable evacuation plan is a requirement for a license, was construction being allowed to proceed despite the fact that the plan was so obviously and seriously flawed? There was so much hemming and hawing, I can't recall the actual answer; but I think it was to the effect that they were confident that these issues could all be resolved. To my knowledge, they have never been seriously addressed, let alone resolved.

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