Freeze Pilgrim Forum: The great debate
PLYMOUTH — Separately, the participants in this past week’s nuclear open house at Town Hall appear to be as far apart as they have ever been. Proponents of relicensing Plymouth’s Pilgrim Station – the issue being debated this night – made the case for its safety and the overall environmental benefits of nuclear power.
Opponents – area residents who are part of debate sponsor Freeze Pilgrim, and a coalition of local, regional and national grassroots organizations (Pilgrim Coalition) – believe the opposite. And yet when both sides were situated in the Mayflower Room at Town Hall – the site of an informal meet and greet with the NRC from 5 to 6:30 p.m., and a half hour later the Freeze Pilgrim forum – there might have been a meeting of the minds.
Pilgrim spokesman Carol Wightman is for many the voice at the other end of the line who offers owner Entergy’s minimal response to events at the plant that catch the press’ attention. In person, however, she is an eloquent and passionate supporter of Pilgrim, where she has worked, she sheepishly admits, for more than three decades. “These are some of the brightest and most dedicated people you will ever meet,” Middleborough resident Wightman earnestly exclaimed during what an NRC staff member characterized as a “science fair.”
Kingston resident Sarah Altherr – an original member of Jones River Watershed Association – stands on the other side of the issue from Wightman, but she, too, took the issue down to a more personal level. All through the NRC info session Altherr and others associated with the Pilgrim Coalition sought out and engaged NRC officials. Altherr later said that, while she didn’t agree with the NRC’s arguments, she was encouraged by being able to hear the answers to her questions, face to face.
For nearly 90 minutes ardent opponents of the plant’s continued operation engaged in intimate conservations with NRC officials, local and state representatives, and at least two candidates for Congress. Even when the room suddenly quieted as members of the Pilgrim Coalition took a page from the “Occupy” playbook and began a mic check – in which one individual read a statement a line at a time and the others repeated it in unison – after the statement had been chanted the one-on-one conversations resumed.
The NRC and Entergy had declined invitations to participate in the Freeze Pilgrim forum. But most of the others who had attended the information session remained and so, to some degree, did the conversational tone of the evening.Keep reading