Monday, March 26, 2012

This Thursday: Shaffer and Gundersen Panel about Pilgrim Plant

The Freeze Forum

On Thursday March 29 at 7 p.m., the newspaper Wicked Local of Plymouth Massachusetts will sponsor a forum on the relicensing of Pilgrim Nuclear plant. Howard Shaffer and Arnie Gundersen will be the panelists. The event is called the Freeze Pilgrim Forum because Shaffer and Gundersen will be debating: "Should Pilgrim's relicensing be frozen until all the Fukushima event corrections are completed?" This question is a local non-binding ballot initiative. As you might expect, Gundersen will debate in favor of freezing the relicensing and Shaffer for proceeding with relicensing.

Many of us can't get down to Plymouth MA to see the debate, but we can see it (and ask questions) on-line. It's going to be a multi-media event. The invitation:

FFMand has invited you to watch their event:
Live Blog: Freeze Pilgrim: the Debate
Date: Thursday March 29, 2012
Time: 7:00PM EDT
Please consider participating in our "live" reporting from the March 29th Freeze Pilgrim forum in Plymouth, and informing your members/colleagues and friends about this enhanced coverage. Our reporting will begin 15 minutes prior to the start of the question and answer period, and will continue until the forum's conclusion. This forum is an important prelude to Plymouth's non-binding ballot referendum on re-licensing Pilgrim. The "Cover-It-Live" event will include live updates on the Q&A, polls, mini-resumes, graphics, and the ability for participants to comment as events unfold.
Frank Mand, Old Colony Memorial/GateHouse Media NE (
Copy-paste this link in your browser:

The Pilgrim Plant

Pilgrim Station is a Mark 1 BWR. Like Vermont Yankee, it is owned by Entergy. Its forty-year license will expire on June 8, 2012. Pilgrim submitted its renewal application to NRC in January 2006. No other renewal has taken this long to complete. However, the plant can keep operating after June 8, because it applied for NRC renewal in an appropriate time frame, and so can continue to operate on its existing license.

According to this article about Pilgrim relicensing in the Patriot Ledger, the major slow-down for relicensing has been a long series of contentions filed by Mary Lampert of Duxbury. She has founded the group Pilgrim Watch to oppose the plant's operation.

The Debate

Once again, going back to Wicked Local, there have been two articles about the debate. On March 18, the article Nuclear Forum Off to a Shaky Start described how Entergy and the NRC said they would not participate in the debate. Then the fun began. The organizers accepted an offer from Howard Shaffer to debate. As the article describes the situation at that point:
But when Shaffer’s participation was announced, Gundersen was not happy, and Freeze Plymouth was told he would renege on his commitment to the event because of what were characterized as “personal” attacks by Shaffer on his qualifications.

The Old Colony reached Shaffer at his New Hampshire home Friday, and while he admitted to instances where he and/or colleagues had been critical of Gundersen’s qualifications, he said he’s appeared on panels with the Fairewinds engineer before without incident.

On March 21, another Wicked Local article appeared: Freeze forum 'experts' set. The article starts: Fairewinds Associates Founder Margaret Gundersen has confirmed that her husband, Arnold Gundersen, has accepted an invitation to be one of two “experts” at next week’s Freeze Pilgrim forum – a public prelude to May’s nonbinding referendum on the re-licensing of Plymouth’s 40-year-old nuclear power plant.

So I guess the debate is a "go."

We can all attend, on-line. If I get more information on attendance, I will update this post.


jimwg said...

Don't know much about Howard Shaffer. Is he an effective aggressive nuclear advocate or just another lame token opponent? Why don't they call true guns like Meredith Angwin or Rod Adams or Will Davis as among those in the Nuclear Carnival?

James Greenidge
Queens NY

Meredith Angwin said...

Jim Greenidge

There are two questions here. The first is about Howard Shaffer as a debater. The second question is about tapping others for these debates.

Howard is a great choice as a debater. He is a long-term member of the ANS Public Information committee and a skilled debater. He debated Tyson Slocum of Public Citizen in late 2010, and he was scheduled to debate Arnie Gundersen in 2011. Howard had a sudden illness, and I debated Gundersen. But Howard was the chosen debater.

Howard is head of the ANS Vermont Pilot Project. You can see the March 17 rally he organized (and I described) at the ANS blog. You also commented on that post, which includes a picture of Howard.

Finally, I think you met us both at the Green Bag Lunch at the American Nuclear Society Winter Meeting. I could be wrong, though...

Okay...I have shown that Howard is a great choice as a debater.

The second question is harder. What about others as spokespeople? If Rod or Will was going to come to Massachusetts to debate...who would arrange it, and who would pay their way? These are unanswered questions, IMHO, and the nuclear industry should get busy and answer these questions!

Howard Shaffer said...

Jim can also look at the Panel discussion on the Facebook page "Transparent Radiation."

jimwg said...

"Finally, I think you met us both at the Green Bag Lunch at the American Nuclear Society Winter Meeting. I could be wrong, though..."

Alas, I haven't met you or any members of the nuclear blogs in person yet. Last time I touched Vermont was passing thru to Montreal forty years ago ;). You raise a great point of why can't the nuclear industry/unions help foot the debate travel expenses for grass-roots soldiers in the trenches carrying the PR water for them. Their yearly coffee budgets would likely cost more. Maybe we should knock on their doors with a cup; after all, we're out here doing what benefits them!

Howard's fine features impresses me enough to wonder why can't there be an on-going YouTube nuclear rebuttal roundtable feature starring him and Rod and Will and Dan and you ("The Dragonslayers!") taking down the latest weekly anti-nuclear assertions and poisonous rumors to nip FUD in the bud? Rod is half-way there with the "Atomic Show", but having one directly challenging current anti-nuke Tweets and postings and accusations by anti-nuke honchos would be exceptionally timely and educational and a mark on a medium where it seems anti-nukers have a monopoly.

James Greenidge
Queens NY