Union of Concerned Scientists Opposes Maine Nuclear Plant

Daniel F. Ford '70, executive director of the Cambridge-based Union of Concerned Scientists, spoke in Searsport, Me., last week in an effort to publicize the dangers of the nuclear power plant.

Dr. James J. McKenzie, chairman of the Union, said the appearance in Maine was part of the Union's new emphasis on educating the public. "We've moved away from formal intervention before the Atomic Energy Commission, which has proved to be a fruitless waste of time," he said.

In a letter to the White House last month, the Union criticized the AEC for misleading the public and concealing information about the dangers of present safety systems in nuclear power plants.

Later in the month, the Union issued a joint report with the Sierra Club, critical of an AEC reactor safety study.

Ford was invited to Searsport by "Safe Power for Maine," a local citizens' group which hopes to publicize the nuclear power issue throughout the state, and to resist plans by Central Maine Power Co. to build a plant on Sear's island in Penobscot Bay.


Not Official Yet

Cali Hollander, president of the citizen's group, said Central Maine Power has not applied for an official construction permit on the site, but has held correspondence with the AEC about construction on the island. Hollander added that these plans were not made public until after the rezoning of the island for industrial use.

Central Maine Power has planned hearings with the state department of Environmental Protection for next fall, and with the AEC for June 1976. The citizen's group plans to continue its educational campaign, and may eventually intervene in the state hearings.

Hollander said the power company had "underestimated the opposition" to its plan and concealed plans for development of the island.

"From my point of view, it's a moral issue, she said. "The people should have the right to decide. If the people decide to have a nuclear plant, it will not be because they are uninformed."

Ford said one major goal of his visit was to question AEC motives in encouraging the location of nuclear power plants in sparsely populated areas. "They're plainly adopting a policy of sparing the major population centers, which raises doubts as to the degree of confidence they have in the remoteness of major accidents," he said.

Both McKenzie and Hollander stressed the importance of educating the public on the local level, and gaining local support for opposition to nuclear power plants.

"The power plant is clearly for the rest of New England," McKenzie said. "It's more than Maine can use. That's what galls the people up there."

Ford also visited another Penobscot Bay community, and made two television appearances, as part of what he called "bringing the debate to the village square."

Ford held his Thursday press conference at the downtown ice cream parlor, the "unofficial town hall" of Searsport, Hollander said. "It's the best thing that ever happened to Searsport," one citizen said.