Rep. Patrick asks MEMA for a Retraction on KI Policy

Upper Cape State Rep trying to get access to Potassium Iodide for Cape Codders downwind from Plymouth Nuclear

Representative Matt Patrick of Falmouth has formally asked the Director of the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, Cristine McCombs, for a retraction on a letter she sent December 13, 2004 to the Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Robert Claypool, of the Federal Office of Public Health Emergency Preparedness.  The MEMA letter stated that the, â??Commonwealth strongly opposes expanding the KI distribution plan to 20-miles from a nuclear power plant.â?



Potassium Iodide is the first line of defense against nuclear radiation. Presently the pills are only available within 10 miles of the Plymouth Nuclear power plant which means the other side of the canal.

The letter was in response to a request for comments to the Federal Governmentâ??s draft Federal Guidelines for Requesting Potassium Iodide (KI) from the Strategic National Stockpile.  The draft guidelines proposed expanding the distribution of KI beyond the 10 mile Emergency Protection Zone (EPZ) around a nuclear power plant to 20 miles.  

Anonymous whistle blower alerts Matt Patrick

Representative Patrick sought a retraction from McCombsâ?? office after an anonymous whistle blower mailed December 13th letter to him.  Patrick pushed through a bill in his first term that required the stockpiling of KI on the Cape and islands and Cape Ann on the north shore.  All of these areas are beyond the 10 mile EPZ but after weighing the benefits against the negatives the legislature saw fit to require that the Department of Public Health assist the towns in stockpiling KI in the event of an emergency.

Rep. Patrick first asked McCombs to retract the letter but was told by their Director of Legislative Affairs, Jennifer Flagg, that Ms. McCombs would not do so.  Patrick then decided to make a formal written request for a draft letter of retraction by August 12th.

Rep. Patrick said, â??Clearly the agencies of the Commonwealth do not determine public policy in opposition to the Legislature.  One canâ??t help but wonder if this MEMA mindset has anything to do with the four year delay to implement the law requiring the stockpiling of KI on the Cape and islands and Cape Ann.  Even though the Federal Government has recognized the benefits of stockpiling KI beyond the 10 mile EPZ after September 11th , MEMA is in a state of denial, living in the past to the possible detriment of the people of Massachusetts.â?

Below is a copy of Mr. Patrick's letter.

August 1, 2005
Cristine McCombs, Director Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency
400 Worcester Road Framingham, MA 01702-5399

Dear Ms. McCombs: I write concerning a letter from you to Robert G. Claypool of the Federal Office of Public Health Emergency Preparedness dated December 13, 2004. In this letter you state that the, â??Commonwealth strongly opposes expanding the KI distribution plan to 20-miles from a nuclear power plant.â? This is clearly not the case since the legislature passed a bill mandating the stockpiling of KI beyond the ten-mile EPZ in 2002. 

You have told me that the letter was formulated under consultation with the Department of Public Health. When I spoke to the Director of DPH, Suzanne Condon, she told me her letter of December 21, 2004 was not opposed to the distribution of KI beyond the ten mile EPZ. 

Neither the legislature nor its Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy were consulted by MEMA to solicit our thoughts on the policy of the Commonwealth in regard to the distribution of KI before your letter was written. 

One also has to wonder if the Secretary of Public Safety or the Governor were consulted by MEMA before it decided to create policy for the Commonwealth. This mind-set could explain why it has taken the Executive Office of Public Safety four years to implement a legislative mandate to provide KI to the Towns of the Cape and Islands and Cape Ann. 

Subsequent to our discussion on July 17th I was told by your Director of Legislative Affairs, Jennifer Flagg, that you refused to send a letter of retraction to Dr. Claypool. 

I now formally request that you send a letter of retraction because your agency does not create policy for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. A letter must be sent to Dr. Claypool stating that MEMA was wrong in its assumption to speak for the Commonwealth. The letter of retraction should state that legislation was passed in 2002 that mandates the distribution of KI beyond the ten-mile EPZ and that it is an important option for the states and their municipalities to have so they can be prepared in the event of an emergency. 

Please send me a draft of the letter by Friday, August 12, 2005.

Sincerely,
Matthew C. Patrick, Representative, Third Barnstable District

Cc. Governor Romney, Secretary Flynn, Chairmen Morrissey and Dempsey of Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy, epresentative Thomas Petrolatti and
Senator Oâ??Leary

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