CONCORD, N.H., OCT. 22 -- Federal officials barred the public from hearings on proposed emergency evacuation plans for the unopened Seabrook nuclear power plant today because of demonstrations by antinuclear protesters.
Administrative Law Judge Ivan Smith ordered the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board hearings in the statehouse closed to the public at 1:30 p.m. after repeated outbursts by the activists.
Smith allowed reporters to remain in the hearing room and reopened the hearing to the public at midafternoon. The hearings are evaluating federally required emergency plans for the completed but unlicensed Seabrook plant.
A planned protest by antinuclear activists had proceeded quietly in the statehouse's Hall of Representatives until protest spokesman Stephen Comley rose from his chair and began shouting at Judge Smith.
"When are you going to start ruling for the people?" Comley yelled as he approached a roped-off security area where Smith and other officials were presiding.
Comley said before the protest that he was upset about provisions in the proposed emergency plans that call for potassium iodide solution, an antiradiation element, to be distributed to disabled residents who might not be able to be evacuated if a radioactive accident occurred at Seabrook.
"Do you think this is humane?" Comley, a nursing home operator from Rowley, one of the Massachusetts communities within Seabrook's 10-mile evacuation radius, asked as he held two small containers of the solution.
Although antinuclear demonstrations during the opening of the hearings earlier this month had forced Smith to call a recess, today was the first time he ordered the public barred. Protesters responded with jeers.
The protest followed testimony disclosing that buses to transport an estimated 1,400 disabled and sick people in a radioactive emergency at Seabrook are not equipped to lift wheelchairs.