Not disposing of nuclear waste in any region’s precious waterways would seem be a matter of common sense, but apparently, in Massachusetts, the corporation responsible for decommissioning the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station wants to do just that. To protect the environment, the economy, and the health of local communities, the South Shore REALTORS® have mobilized in opposition.
Along the coast of Massachusetts between Boston and Cape Cod, fishermen have plied the waterways for generations, residents and visitors flock to the beaches, and an international company with a contract to decommission the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station is attempting to discharge radioactive wastewater into Cape Cod Bay. The ill-effects of this would likely be irreversible, and members of the South Shore REALTORS® are already feeling the apprehension in the local real estate market. To protect the environment, the economy, and the well-being of their communities, the REALTORS® have become outspoken advocates for responsible disposal of nuclear wastewater. The REALTOR® Party’s Advocacy Everywhere program is helping them make their point.
Rachel Tristano, CEO of South Shore REALTORS®, explains that not only is this an urgent local issue, it will have major national repercussions: “Holtec International, the corporation in question, could behave responsibly by following the established methods of safe nuclear wastewater disposal, but it’s much cheaper to skip transporting it to the safe-disposal sites. If they are able to establish a precedent by dumping the toxic waste in Cape Cod Bay, they’ll be able to point to that as they underbid on similar projects around the country. It’s a very dangerous example. On the other hand, if we win, and we must win, we’ll be sending the message that this is not acceptable.” She credits Christine Silva, a member of the association’s Board of Directors and NAR’s Housing Opportunity Committee, with leading the REALTORS®’ opposition effort. “Christine was just watching the local news one day, saw a rally in protest of what this big corporation was trying to do, and she went and joined them and never looked back!” Silva became a Local Political Coordinator for the REALTORS®, serving as a liaison with local elected officials in her town of Plymouth, and serves on the steering committee of a broad coalition that includes groups ranging from the Massachusetts Seafood Collaborative to the League of Women Voters. Its website, saveourbayma.com, details the threat, the opposition movement, and how the public can help.
Within the coalition, says Silva, it’s her role to protect homeowners. “For thirty years, clients have told me that they don’t want to live near the plant, but now, with this threat hanging in the balance, buying and selling property in the region has become a much riskier proposition.” It’s a messy and complicated issue, she notes. “The EPA, unbelievably, doesn’t have jurisdiction over radioactive waste. And from a regulatory standpoint, the fox is guarding the chicken coop. It might seem like a no-brainer, and there are those who say, ‘Oh, this will never be allowed to happen,’ but we can’t afford to be complacent. There’s too much at stake. We need strong laws that prohibit any nuclear wastewater disposal in our waterways.”
In fact, legislation was introduced this spring seeking to prevent the discharge of radioactive materials into coastal or inland waterways in the commonwealth. To show support, with help from the state association, the South Shore REALTORS® launched a member and consumer Call For Action. “As a local association, we had to limit our call to communications with local officials, so we asked everyone to contact their town, city, and county officials and urge them to work with their counterparts and the state and federal level to protect our bay and the prosperity of our communities. We’ve heard from our local legislators that the public response really burned up the phone lines and email systems!” reports Tristano.
The South Shore REALTORS® kept the pressure on while the legislation weathered several delays and changes in status. One member who serves as a selectman in Plymouth has been preparing a dossier to bring to the attention of 60 Minutes. Silva was recently featured in The Boston Globe for her advocacy. And Tristano was planning another Call For Action.
At long last, an amendment to the Massachusetts Senate’s Economic Development Bill passed in late July and is expected to clear both houses of the Massachusetts Legislature and reach the governor’s desk for signature. “It will put a two-year moratorium on dumping irradiated wastewater into our bays,” explains Silva. “Meanwhile, it will form a commission to examine the economic impacts of any proposed dumping, particularly on the fishing and aquaculture industries, real estate, tourism, and hospitality. We are not yet finished with this fight, and I don’t want to speak too soon, but I do believe we have achieved an important victory in preserving our common waters for future generations.”
To this good news, Tristano adds, “The resources that NAR and MAR provided are incredible. They were so responsive and so quick. And the whole project was so well organized – it was like they were conducting a symphony! Our decision makers up and down the South Shore got the message, and we are proud to have had this role in what looks like a positive outcome.”
To learn more about how the South Shore REALTORS® are working to keep nuclear wastewater out of their waterways, and ultimately, waterways across the country, contact CEO Rachel Tristano at firstname.lastname@example.org or 708.567.1376. For complete details, visit saveourbayma.com.