An Earth Day look at nuclear energy - Newburyport, MA

An Earth Day look at nuclear energy - Newburyport, MA - The Swampscott Reporter

NEWBURYPORT - Learning about global warming, energy costs and geo-political instability from the perspective of Chris Nord, vice president of the Citizens Awareness Network and board member of Newburyport’s C-10 Research and Education Foundation, might be considered a chilling experience.

Nord, a nuclear power industry watchdog and longtime Seabrook Station Nuclear Power Plant opponent, says many residents within the 10-mile radius of the Seabrook plant are not aware that they live within the “sacrifice zone,” an official term given the area by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Additionally, he says, they may not be aware that the 2006 Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation (BEIR) study conducted by the National Academy of Science determined there are no safe levels of radiation exposure, and that women and children are more vulnerable than men to health problems associated with exposure.
Nord will discuss these issues and more at a free talk entitled “Nuclear Energy: Sustainable and Secure?” Thursday, April 17 at 7 p.m. at the Mass Audubon Center at Joppa Flats, 1 Plum Island Turnpike, Newbury. His talk, hosted by the C-10 Foundation, is presented in conjunction with the local month-long celebration of Earth Day.
Nord, a 30-year resident of the region, will discuss the nuclear power industry within the timely context of climate change. He perceives the need to find “truly sustainable energy solutions to the growing ecological crisis of climate change.”
“We are living through one of the most extraordinary ecological transitions of all time. We have outstripped our environmental underpinnings and with our present global economy we need to face the possibility of environmental collapse,” Nord says.
Nord says we have only 10 years to rectify the consequences of human altered global climate change. He is concerned that other cultures such as the Inuit and the Maldivians may be the first human cultures threatened with extinction due to the increases of world temperatures. The Maldives is an archipelago stringing throughout the South Pacific with land only 4 feet above rising sea levels. The Inuit are vulnerable because of well-documented threats to sea ice, walrus and polar bears, all necessary to their survival above the Arctic Circle.
Nord has been an outspoken critic of nuclear power due to the unresolved long-term health dangers and homeland security issues associated with the industry. He says that in addition to the findings of increased risks of exposure, there is the unsolved issue of waste disposal and security. He questions whether nuclear power should continue to be part of the sustainable energy constellation.
“The nation has still never figured out what to do with nuclear waste, the toxic poisons that are still being stored onsite,” he says.
C-10 Foundation’s Research Assistant Debbie Grinnell says that “the current administration is in a push to include nuclear power as part of the energy plan for the future and yet we have 300,000 years that we need to keep this toxic waste safe.”
Nord has been a researcher and lecturer on nuclear energy since the 1970s, when he moved to the region to stop the construction of Seabrook Station. In addition to several college appearances in the area, Nord has been a guest lecturer at the University of New Hampshire’s Environmental Science Department for 10 years.
“I am interested in trying to alert my fellow citizens to the dangers of atomic power,” Nord says.
C-10’s primary role as an agency is to conduct “real time” monitoring of the radiation levels emanating from Seabrook Station. They have posted 17 stations within the neighboring Massachusetts area that have been collecting data since Seabrook opened in 1990. They also monitor security and safety at the plant.
The foundation receives its funding through a 10 percent assessment from the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, or MEMA. These funds are provided by the state emergency agency to give first responders immediate emergency radiation tracking information. Nord will demonstrate monitoring equipment during his April 17 talk.
“C-10 runs the most advanced monitoring system in the United States. This is the best real-time radiation monitoring,” Nord says.
C-10 hopes to have a more public profile and to call attention to the anniversaries of nuclear accidents Chernobyl and Three Mile Island, both atomic energy disasters.
Grinnell points out that “while we are celebrating Earth Day we have to remember that we have a nuclear power plant in our back yard. At C-10 we are committed to a safe future of renewables.”
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