Cape Downwinders Await Critical November Vote

By Gina Curreri
BU News Service

Cape anti-nuclear activists plan to press Gov. Deval Patrick to seek a federal shutdown of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station if on Nov. 5 Barnstable becomes the 15th Cape town to vote “yes” on closing the nuclear power plant.

“He has the mandate that he has to look out for our safety,” Janet Azarovitz, a Cape Downwinders member from West Falmouth, said at the Statehouse Wednesday. “We’re hoping that what would be a total of 15 Cape towns to vote against Pilgrim might have some impact on his office.”

Azarovitz was one of about 30 members from the Cape Downwinders group who went to the Statehouse on Wednesday for a panel discussion on how to prepare Massachusetts for a potential nuclear disaster such as that at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant in Japan following the devastating tsunami in 2011.

The Cape activists frequently protest the Pilgrim plant and have cautioned against the lack of emergency planning for Cape residents in case of a radioactive release at the plant.

Fourteen Cape municipalities have already voted in favor of asking Patrick to aid in closing the Pilgrim plant.

Although the state is not able to order a shutdown of a nuclear plant, the governor can request that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission close it, Azarovitz said.

“It’s been very frustrating. I wanted to stand up today and say, ‘Is there a governor in the house?’ We’ve met with his staff and are still hoping to meet with him on this,” she said.

Lillia Frantin, a North Falmouth resident involved with Cape Downwinders, said state legislators should push for safer and more sustainable ways to produce energy.

“I think the majority is still avoiding this problem, and it’s been frustrating for us,” Frantin said. “People are mesmerized into thinking (nuclear energy) is the best thing we’ve got, but there’s solar, geothermal, tidal and even wind possibilities for creating energy.”

Although he was on a trade mission to Canada, the activists see Patrick as a potential ally. In August, he questioned the need for Pilgrim’s energy, but he made no moves to ask for its closure.

This article first appeared in the Cape Cod Times.

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