, Newburyport, MA

January 17, 2014

Problem of spent, hot fuel rods remains

Newburyport Daily News

---- — To the editor:

On Dec. 18, I attended the NRC public meeting on the concrete degradation issue at the Seabrook nuclear plant. At the meeting, Sen. Kathleen O’Connor Ives and Rep. Michael Costello did the right thing on behalf of the safety of their constituents: Katy and Mike jointly called for an immediate shutdown of the Seabrook plant.

It was a groundbreaking moment because it was the first time that any elected representative has called for an immediate shutdown. It was highly appropriate that they did so, since they represent districts where the bulk of Massachusetts’ residents, schools and businesses are located within the 10-mile evacuation zone.

I have been a huge fan of Sen. O’Connor Ives since I first met her and I am not surprised that she would exhibit such leadership. In my opinion, based upon what I heard at the meeting, our elected reps really had no choice.

The ASR problem at the plant — the degradation of the plant’s foundation in 131 locations including five safety-critical buildings such as the containment building for the reactor itself — is putting their district in dire risk, right now.

Both my wife Cynthia and I are extremely proud of our son Michael’s many contributions to improving the quality of life for the people he serves and have never been more proud of him than when he called for the shutdown of the Seabrook nuclear plant.

Mike has always been deeply concerned about safe evacuation, safe storage of spent, hot fuel rods and a myriad of other plant issues.

I know that he and Katy did their homework before making this bold call. They attended previous NRC meetings, listened to constituents and heard briefings from our local advocacy groups including C-10 Foundation and No More Fukushimas.

They realized they had no choice but to advocate for immediate shutdown.

As your former state senator, I stand proudly shoulder-to-shoulder with Mike and Katy in calling for an immediate shutdown. Yes, many know I demonstrated against the plant decades ago.

It sickens me that the question I posed back then is just as relevant and impossible to achieve today.

What are we going to do with the high-level radioactive spent fuel rods? Decades later, he federal government has not yet found a national nuclear waste repository … no one wants such materials in their backyard.

In the meantime, the spent, hot fuel rods are piling up beneath the plant site in cooling pools.

The big question remains: When the plant is finally decommissioned and we are left with hot, spent fuel rods that need to be guarded and kept cool for 2,000-plus years, who will pay for the expense and who will be responsible for their safe storage in the long years ahead?

Thanks to Katy and Mike and all who took the time to testify at a highly busy time — a week before Christmas.

Thanks for their courage and foresight in times when many do not look ahead and have stunted vision when it comes to this most serious problem facing all who treasure the beauty of this area where we have chosen to live our lives and run our businesses.

Let’s all hope for a happy and Seabrook plant-free New Year.

Former STATE Sen. Nicholas J. Costello