The Alliance For A Clean Environment, ACE, is a non-profit, public interest research and advocacy group that has worked to protect the environment and public health in the tri-county Berks, Chester, and Montgomery County region since 1995. The grassroots group of concerned citizen volunteers has been investigating harms and threats associated with Limerick Nuclear Power Plant for over 11 years. ACE is led by Dr. Lewis Cuthbert, a lifelong educator, past Superintendent of Schools, and retired college professor, and his wife, Donna Madaras Cuthbert, a 35-year business woman in the community and a 3rd generation resident. Dr. and Mrs. Cuthbert have two grown daughters and four grandchildren.
The main focus of ACE investigations since 1995 has been the three major pollution sources in the region which ACE named, “The Toxic Triangle”. ACE provides the community and elected officials with facts and information from our investigations, in order to prevent unnecessary poisoning of our environment and to protect the health of families in the region.
Pottstown Landfill – Closed in 2005
ACE started investigating the radioactive Pottstown Landfill in 1995, based on vast numbers of reported childhood cancers and too many children reported with other life-long diseases and disabilities in the Greater Pottstown Area. ACE repeatedly shared a long list of documented health threats from the landfill along with shocking health statistics through meetings, TV shows, and newspapers. ACE formed a coalition of residents and elected officials whose voices eventually led to closing of Pottstown Landfill in 2005.
Pottstown Landfill Gas Pipeline To Occidental Chemical Boilers – Defeated
The landfill tried to transport its extremely hazardous, explosive, and radioactive gas in a dangerous pipeline across Pottstown to Occidental, to be burned as cheap fuel for its boilers. After five years of informing the community and officials of the inherent risks and threats, and after vast numbers of residents and officials spoke out to stop the pipeline, thankfully, that disastrous idea failed.
Occidental Chemical – Closed in 2005
The pipeline investigation led ACE to identify threats at the second major polluter in the region’s “Toxic Triangle”. Occidental Chemical, declared a Superfund site in 1989 because of serious groundwater contamination, also spewed carcinogens and neurotoxins into the air for years. ACE informed neighbors of Occidental and others of the dangers at the site and applied for an EPA Superfund TAG grant to stop hazardous materials from being used in sneakers and other products. We were successful. That dioxin laden hazardous material instead went to a hazardous waste landfill in Canada. ACE called on an environmental health expert to work with the Oxy union to try to protect workers’ health and tried to get Oxy to transition to safer alternatives to PCV plastics, to minimize health threats to the community. Dioxin testing also found high levels of dioxin at the site. Efforts led to a multi-media EPA inspection, which triggered a $1 million fine. The fine was to be used for air pollution control. Instead of installing controls or adequately dealing with groundwater and soil contamination at the site, Oxy closed in 2005.
Above ACE investigations have now been archived on the ACE website.
Limerick Nuclear Plant – On-going Investigation, Attempting To Reduce Unprecedented Harms and Threats
In 2000, ACE started and is still investigating the 3rd, and by far, the worst threat to health and safety of the region’s residents in the “Toxic Triangle”, Limerick Nuclear Power Plant. Limerick Nuclear Plant has routine and accidental radiation emissions, as well as a broad range of other very hazardous toxics, continuously poisoning our air and water. Limerick’s radiation releases are documented to be in our air, water, soil, vegetation, food, fish, milk, and children. Impacts from the broad range of radionuclides released are additive, cumulative, and synergistic to each other and also to the many other toxics released by Limerick into our air and water.
The evidence of unprecedented harms and threats from Limerick Nuclear Plant operations is clear. The Alliance For A Clean Environment reviewed numerous reports, dockets and permits. Testimony from Limerick’s original public hearing revealed that prior to construction many people were concerned about what is happening right now. For example, residents knew in the 1980′s that the Schuylkill River could NOT sustain the severe threats and harms from Limerick’s operations. Yet, Limerick was licensed for 40 years, until 2029. Now, Exelon wants to operate Limerick 20 more years, until 2049. That poses an unacceptable risk to the almost 2 million people who need the river for drinking water.
Limerick threatens to jeopardize a safe, usable water supply for almost two million people from Pottstown to Philadelphia. It has poisoned groundwater with a broad range of radionuclides. Limerick has turned our region into a “defacto” high-level radioactive waste dump. Earthquakes and other natural disasters, as well as accidents, human error, and terrorist attacks threaten everyone in the region with a meltdown that could turn us into nuclear refugees forever, losing our homes and everything we own. Design flaws at Limerick have left high-level waste in pools vulnerable to a disaster worse than Chernobyl, with the potential to release far more radiation. The regulatory body, NRC, has failed in its oversight to require the most protective actions. In spite of aging, deteriorating, corroding equipment and miles of underground buried pipes and cables, Exelon, Limerick’s owner, is trying to operate Limerick 20 years beyond its 40 years license ending in 2029.
The entire monitoring, testing, and reporting process is controlled by Exelon, the company with a vested interest in the outcome. Exelon’s track record in several states shows why it cannot be trusted. A packet of information is available from ACE with the details about Exelon’s false claims and track record of deception. Documentation disputes Exelon’s absurd claims that Limerick Nuclear Plant is safe, clean, and reliable.
Evidence shows NRC won’t do anything that costs Exelon money, and in fact has reduced standards and safeguards for Limerick, and for relicensing at other nuclear plants, in what many have called “rubberstamp permitting”. Others have said NRC is a lapdog to the nuclear industry, which makes it imperative for the region’s residents to urge local, state, and federal officials to step up and demand improved safeguards and closure of Limerick after their 40 year license expires.
ACE is currently trying to form a coalition of the region’s residents and elected officials to stop relicensing and to demand safeguards until Limerick does close.
To date, elected officials and agencies that are supposed to be protecting the interests of families in the region have failed to do that.
Other ACE efforts to provide information and research to help the region’s residents minimize pollution threats contributed and led to:
- Widespread opposition to the pumping of billions of gallons of toxic, unfiltered mine pit waters into the Schuylkill River by Exelon for Limerick Nuclear Plant operations.
- Minimizing toxic sewage dumping in North Coventry and other locations
- Stopping a dangerous waste transfer station in Pottstown
- Shutting down 1 incinerator and stopping two others
- Closing a mold school to protect children
- Providing information and testimony to help minimize TCE emissions from Collegeville area polluters.
- Attempting to stop fluoridation of drinking water in Pottstown