Rines to deliver message at nuke waste meeting

Posted:  Tuesday, May 24, 2016 - 8:30am

Wiscasset’s message to officials from the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy can be summed up in five words, take the nuclear waste away.

At least one selectman will attend the Thursday, June 2 meeting to address the issue of finding a permanent storage site for nuclear waste temporarily stored at Maine Yankee on Bailey Point. The meeting will be held from 5 to 9:30 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency at One Avenue De Lafayette in Boston.

DOE officials have indicated they will hold a meeting in Wiscasset on June 7, but no time or location has been announced

Selectmen had no takers on their offer to provide bus transportation to residents wanting to attend the meeting; no surprise to Chairman Ben Rines Jr. “It’s on a weeknight in Boston, so I’m not surprised no one wanted to go.”

Rines said he’ll make the trip alone for the sole purpose of delivering the town’s message to DOE officials and anyone else willing to listen.

“I’m going to read the town’s position to the panel and make it clear we want these nuclear wastes taken away from Wiscasset which is what the federal government promised to do when Maine Yankee was decommissioned.”

Rines said he’s looking forward to seeing Marge Kilkelly, U.S. Sen. Angus King’s (I - Maine) senior policy advisor who also plans to attend the meeting. Kilkelly is a former Wiscasset selectman, state senator and state representative.

“We worked together when I was in the legislature on legislation relating to the decommissioning of Maine Yankee and the cleanup of the site,” continued Rines.

When not in Washington, D.C., Kilkelly resides at Dragonfly Farm in Dresden.

The statement Rines will deliver to DOE officials was adopted by Wiscasset voters at a town meeting held Oct. 2001. The current board of selectmen reaffirmed it May 17. It reads:

“We the citizens of Wiscasset, Maine, home to Maine Yankee Nuclear Power Plant, respectively request that the Federal Government of the United States of America take immediate possession of the remaining nuclear waste at the Maine Yankee site and remove it to a secure location.”

Maine Yankee officials have said they, too, would like the DOE to honor its obligations and remove the wastes from Bailey Point. Maine Yankee is responsible for 24/7 monitoring of the storage site.

According to the Office of Nuclear Energy website, http://energy.gov/ne/consent-based-siting, the DOE Boston meeting is part of the “initial phase of developing a consent-based process for siting the facilities needed to store and dispose of the nation’s spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste.” When a site is found and constructed nuclear wastes like the materials stored at Maine Yankee will go there.

From 1972 until 1997, Wiscasset was home to Maine Yankee, the state’s only nuclear power plant. It was permanently shut down in 1997 and is one of several former nuclear power plants in New England where spent nuclear waste is being stored above ground using dry casks. Similar storage facilities are located in Connecticut, Vermont and Massachusetts. The dry cask site at the Maine Yankee site is the largest storage site of its kind in New England.

Rines believes the meetings are a step forward in finding a permanent site but feels the DOE should hold it meetings in Wiscasset and other communities where nuclear wastes are stored.

Rines and Selectman Judy Flanagan were both selectmen when the town passed its 2001 resolution. Flanagan had initially planned to attend the DOE’s Boston meeting with Ben Averill, the town planner, but now plans to wait for the meeting here.

“They’ve indicated a willingness to come to Wiscasset and listen and that’s a good thing. I hope that we’ll have a large turnout for that meeting,” she told the newspaper.