- Written by Administrator
- Published: 03 February 2008
Voters at the final session of town meeting last Tuesday passed Articles 38 and 39. In doing so, they refused to certify Duxbury’s plan until the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) agrees to two conditions: first, that all school buses stationed at Chandler Elementary School be used for exclusively Duxbury residents during an emergency at Pilgrim nuclear power station in Plymouth; second, that the Braintree High School reception center be able to handle all Duxbury residents, not just the 20 percent as the plan now specifies. The reception center is the shelter to which residents will go during an evacuation order.
The vote on Article 38 passed 58 to 33. Article 39 passed on a voice vote. Both were sponsored by the Nuclear Advisory Committee.
Committee chairman Mary “Pixie” Lampert of Washington St. said these articles “zeroed in on the most glaring flaws” in the nuclear emergency plan.
“We need to put pressure on the state to get the best plan in place for our communities today,” Lampert said.
During a nuclear emergency, the state can authorize Duxbury’s buses and those from other towns to go to Plymouth or any other community. It can also order Duxbury police and emergency workers to other locations.
To evacuate all Duxbury residents 87 buses would be needed, said Lampert. Those buses are housed in neighboring towns and would report to a central terminal in Hanson before traveling to Duxbury during an emergency.
Keeping the 21 buses in Duxbury to evacuate school children to Braintree makes sense, said George Lewis of the Nuclear Advisory Committee.
“I have no confidence that any other buses are going to come here during a nuclear emergency, but I have more confidence that buses here will want to leave,” he said.
Voters approved an amendment by Fire Chief William Harriman to Article 38 to remove the reference to keeping Duxbury’s emergency resources in town during a radiological event. The amendment passed 50 to 44.
Both Harriman, who heads Duxbury’s emergency management team, and Duxbury police chief Mark Deluca opposed Article 38.
“In emergency management, the concept of not helping our neighbors is unconscionable,” Harriman said. “This article holds the public safety of our residents hostage if we don’t get what we want. It might be us who are needy some day and we won’t get anything.”
Deluca agreed: “In these times, mutual aid is a necessity. If we go along with this (article) we’re telling each of our neighbors, ëYou’re on your own.’ That means we’re on our own. That’s not a smart move.”
Proponents of Article 38 said it was time to get tough during negotiations with the state.
“Enough is enough,” said Lampert of the 15 years that the town has been asking for important changes with nothing happening.
“We really haven’t gotten very far at meetings with MEMA,” said Selectman Andre Martecchini. “This may be the type of action that could spur this on. These are our plans, not MEMA’s plans. This is a negotiating tactic.”
Selectmen Chairman Betsy Sullivan did not support Article 38.
“There is truth to both sides of this issue,” Sullivan said. “I agree we have a plan that is flawed. I disagree with the tactic.”
With Article 39, voters agreed that Duxbury’s nuclear emergency plan will require that the Braintree reception center be able to take in 100 percent of institutionalized people, such as students in school and the elderly in a nursing home, and 75 percent of the regular population.
The plan currently requires that the reception center and mass care facility at Braintree High School take in 20 percent of Duxbury residents.
“Thus, only one in five can be monitored for radiation, decontaminated and provided with care,” said Lampert.
Lampert said the reason for the 20 percent rule was to save Pilgrim’s owners Entergy money so that it will not have to invest in sufficient monitors and other equipment.
As it is now, Duxbury’s policy not to sign off on its nuclear emergency plan until these changes are made, the current plan will remain in effect if an accident occurs.
Voters also acted on two other articles related to nuclear emergency planning. They indefinitely postponed Article 40 and rejected Article 41 on vote of 40 to 53. Article 40 proposed that town meeting oppose the Pilgrim’s re-licensing to 2032 until it uses the secured dry cask storage method of storing spent nuclear fuel. Article 41 was a citizen’s petition by Lampert to try to open negotiations on changes to the emergency plan to include selectmen, the Nuclear Advisory Committee and the Duxbury Emergency Management Agency.