'Limerick Is Not Safe Just Because The Nuclear Industry Says It Is'
A letter to the editor:
Decades have passed since my husband, our son, and I chose land in Limerick for our first house. We were not aware that at about the same time, it appears PECO was secretly buying land in Limerick for a nuclear power plant just three miles from our home. By the time it became public knowledge, construction had already begun. Despite community concerns raised by many of us back then, PECO, the Limerick Nuclear Power Plant, and the NRC insisted that nuclear power was safe. The newest owner, Exelon, currently echoes that assertion. But evidence suggests otherwise.
In March of 2011, one of Japan’s nuclear power plants called Fukushima, suffered a horrifying meltdown that is impacting the world’s ecosystems and will continue to do so for centuries. Amazingly, in the wake of Fukushima’s disaster and horrific casualties, the owners of the Limerick Nuclear Plant requested a twenty-year extension of the current license for its already aging facility.
In response, the NRC held a public hearing at Sunnybrook on September 22, 2011. The stated purpose was to address the environmental impacts of the Limerick Nuclear Plant. My husband and I attended the afternoon session and signed in as instructed. Armed police guarded the perimeter of the large, sparsely-filled ballroom.
Residents were given five minutes apiece to speak. Ace activists presented excellent evidence, expressing grave concerns about nuclear power presence in this community, especially post-Fukushima. Lorraine Ruppe said she was still waiting for a response she had made months earlier about Limerick’s fault lines, reminding The NRC of the Limerick Nuclear Plant’s rank of third on the U.S. Earthquake risk list.
At the end of the hearing, the attendees were thanked for being polite. It was a sad day because a great deal of time had been taken up by local officials thanking Exelon and Limerick for donations to their institutions and businesses rather than addressing Limerick’s environmental impacts.
That day, we signed up as volunteers with or ACE (The Alliance for a Clean Environment). Before the Cuthberts reinvigorated it in 1995, its previous organizers were a voice urging environmental responsibility. The Cuthberts became, in their words, accidental activists. Their professions were in other fields. But as Donna’s customers and their families began to fall ill, and neighbors and especially children were stricken in ever-increasing numbers, she and her husband, Dr. Lewis Cuthbert, had to know why. They began to ask questions, began to see clusters, started connecting the dots, and that’s how their research began. They have amassed archives of public statistics, studies, and scientific evidence that show that this nuclear plant is contributing to the degradation of our environment and health.
Weeks after the hearing, Lorraine finally received the map she had requested. It showed the Chalfont Fault (17 miles away) and the Ramapo Fault (9 miles away). However, there has long been talk of a fault under the plant. So my husband and I recently went to the Pottstown Library to see if there were any other maps. He found geological survey submitted to PECO in 1974. It shows another fault- the Sanatoga fault- running right under its site! And it shows another area close by labeled the “Linfield Fault Zone”!
Limerick is not safe just because the nuclear industry says it is. TMI was bad. Chernoble was far worse. But Fukushima has obliterated the myths of nuclear safety. The world needs to rethink nuclear safety because the earth is changing in new and unprecedented ways. This industry has proven itself unfit to decide its future and ours as illustrated by its egregious lie of omission concerning the Sanatoga fault!
Until Limerick transitions to solar power, its workers will be unnecessarily exposed to elevated radiation risks and its plumes will continue to carry the refuse of its twenty-four-hour-a-day tower-scrubbing chemicals into our air. That will continue to allow tons of toxic fine particulate matter to be carried in the plumes, degrading the air we breathe. They can contribute to a wide variety of heart and lung problems. The plumes also carry much of our Schuylkill River into the sky, depleting the amount of water that flows downstream to Philadelphia. With less water in the Schuylkill, the radionuclides, iodine-131, and other dangerous contaminants expelled during everyday operations, will continue to be concentrated, degrading the drinking water of our entire Philadephia region.
Exelon cannot be allowed to continue to treat the residents of the Philadelphia region, and especially its workers, like just so much acceptable collateral damage. Our PA constitution grants Pennsylvanians the right to clean air and water. It is time for the nuclear industry to comply!
- Betty Shank of Lower Pottsgrove Township