Originally published in The Commons issue #262 (Wednesday, July 9, 2014). This story appeared on page A4.

Online link:

BRATTLEBORO—A few short months before Vermont Yankee nuclear plant is to cease operations, the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) has posted a draft renewal water permit for public comment.

If approved, the draft water discharge permit would replace a permit that expired about eight years ago. VY reapplied for the permit Sept. 30, 2006.

Critics of VY’s practice of discharging warm water into the river have said that the warmer waters can harm aquatic life, particularly American shad. Some critics have urged ANR to require the plant use existing cooling towers rather than pump power station water straight into the Connecticut.

Read the entire story:

At Issue: Vermont Yankee Decommissioning – WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

At Issue: Vermont Yankee Decommissioning – WCAX.COM Local Vermont News

Former Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission Says Every Single Reactor in the U.S. Should Be Shut Down | Alternet

Holy Cow: Former Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission Says Every Single Reactor in the U.S. Should Be Shut Down | Alternet.

New England Coalition petitions Vermont Supreme Court to shut Vermont Yankee down now

New England Coalition (NEC) had their argument against Vermont Yankee heard in Vermont Supreme Court today. Their petition is to have the plant shut down immediately, as it has been operating without a license since last March, which the state’s public service board has failed to come to a decision on renewing or not.

Entergy’s lawyer argued that the expired nuclear plant is still operating because of a previous Federal ruling prohibiting the state from shuttering the plant beforeexisting case in Federal court is completed.

It is unknown when the Vermont Supreme Court will rule on the matter. The hearing by the Public Service Board on Yankee’s CPG will not be heard until summer.

In the meanwhile, the leaks continue…


To Fuel or Not to Fuel

Entergy Self-Imposed Deadline for Costly Fuel Decision Looms.
New England Coalition Offers Long-Time Adversary’s Views on Entergy’s Dilemma

In recent hearings of Entergy’s lawsuit against the State of Vermont, Entergy witnesses testified that the multi-billion dollar Louisiana-based corporation would have to decide if it was going to buy nuclear fuel for its projected November refueling outage by July 23, 2011. Entergy was seeking a preliminary injunction that would permit the company to operate free of state interference beyond Vermont Yankee’s license original expiration date of March 2012 and until Entergy’s question of whether the state has any right to regulate the plant in any way is finally resolved through the Federal District Court and (presumably) the federal appeals process.

On July18th, Judge Garvan Murtha of the Vermont District Federal Court denied the injunction; ordering Entergy and the State to prepare for trial on the main issues in September.

So, now what will Entergy do?

“No one, probably not even Entergy knows,” says New England Coalition technical Advisor, Raymond Shadis, “ We do know that in the end it will be a business decision , driven by considerations of financial risk. The fuel cost is more than $65 million, which will be little more than half recovered by March. The cost of this decision as well as the cost of the preemption litigation are just the costs of doing business in the manner in which Entergy does business.” Shadis , who worked closely with Entergy managers for more than seven years of the Maine Yankee shutdown and decommissioning, says he knows the Entergy management style to be risk-taking and aggressive, “They are used to a pliant NRC and used to bullying their way past concerned citizens and regulators wherever they do business, but that just doesn’t work in New England with its speak-up democratic traditions,” he said, “Bucking public sensibilities here costs money, lots of money, pure-and-simple.”

“Whichever way it plays out in federal court” said Ned Childs, NEC President, “ This may be the last big ticket financial decision that Entergy may ever make for an operating Vermont Yankee plant. Vermont Yankee hasn’t met its allocated maintenance costs, meaning it hasn’t turned a profit for the last three years. One more unanticipated large expense such as a new steam dryer, or modifications resulting from a Fukushima accident inquest, is likely to sink the ship. I can see no rational business reason for Entergy to persist; they should cut their losses and walk. “Know when to hold ‘em and know when to fold ‘em,” is the way the country music classic has it.”

Shadis agrees, “Closing VY before another twenty years elapses is no longer a question of if, but when and how. Entergy has placed itself in the untenable position of trying to operate an antiquated, aging reactor beyond its design capacity and design life in an alienated and increasingly hostile political and regulatory environment. It’s simply unsupportable. Refueling it now is simply letting stubborn wishful thinking get the better of common sense.”

Clay Turnbull, NEC’s Director of Public Outreach, said that NEC has recently joined national nuclear safety advocate’s initiatives calling upon NRC to close all Fukushima-type US boiling water reactors, such as Vermont Yankee.

NEC, organized and founded in 1971, is the region’s sole advocate for environmental and nuclear safety with intervenor status in the Entergy Vermont Yankee federal relicensing process, and is an intervenor in two open dockets before the Vermont Public Service Board Docket 7440 – Shall Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee receive a CPG for an additional years of operation and less widely reported Docket 7600 –  re: underground pipes and groundwater contamination.

What more than Fukushima do you need to wake up?

I kept saying, “What’s it gonna take folks, a meltdown?”

I didn’t want a meltdown. I just wanted to make the point that it would be STUPID to wait until something catastrophic happened before you thought, “Wow. She’s right. It’s really NOT worth it.”

I AM RIGHT. And we have had the meltdown. So what the hell is the problem?

There is NO justification any of you can make that is worth the potential risk of nuclear power. There is NO financial justification. Remove government subsidies and include the inevitable cost of security and storage of spent nuclear fuel and your argument is already moot. Add to that the cost of clean-up or recovery from the inevitable leaks and failures of plants operating well beyond the lifespan they were built for, and then tell show me the bottom line.

The only argument I’ve heard for years from the nuclear industry itself is that the environmental impact of carbon emissions from our return to coal would be cataclysmic. But who the hell says we will revert back to dirty coal to replace nuclear power? Seriously, what is the basis of that assumption?

What the hell happened to Yankee ingenuity? There are BRILLIANT MINDS working on alternative energy solutions now. There is no single solution to replace the power lost from the inevitable end of nuclear. But there are many options that with the appropriate resources allocated could – together – provide a suitable replacement. This is not a fast and easy solution. But it is a viable option that can be developed and improved to eventually surpass the capacity and eliminate the risk of nuclear.

This, too, is the option that can and will eventually eliminate dependency on foreign oil.

Do you doubt that America has the ability to evolve these technologies? Have you visited M.I.T. lately? CalTech? If we re-allocated subsidies for nuclear power into investment funds for research and development, we’d get there soon enough.

Stop limiting our options. Stop doubting our capabilities. Remember what it felt like to have pride in our country… not just for bravery, but for innovation. Think about the Internet and how rapidly technology evolved in so short a time.

Fukushima was the last screaming alarm after far too many taps on the snooze button. Do not go back to sleep. Wake the hell up… BELIEVE it is possible… and support the innovation that will put an end to nuclear power before it is too late.

Why Fukushima Can Happen Here: Secrets of the Nuclear Industry

Why Fukushima Can Happen Here: Secrets of the Nuclear Industry.


The well-known safety flaws of Mark 1 Boiling Water Reactors have gained significant attention in the wake of the four reactor accidents at Fukushima, but a more insidious danger lurks.

In this video nuclear engineers Arnie Gundersen and David Lochbaum discuss how the US regulators and regulatory process have left Americans unprotected. They walk, step-by-step, through the events of the Japanese meltdowns and consider how the knowledge gained from Fukushima applies to the nuclear industry worldwide. They discuss “points of vulnerability” in American plants, some of which have been unaddressed by the NRC for three decades. Finally, they concluded that an accident with the consequences of Fukushima could happen in the US.

Spent nuclear fuel is but one of the problems with nuclear power

NY Times reporter Matthew Wald looks at the temporary storage of nuclear fuel rods in dry cask storage. Why? Because since the disaster at Fukushima, it is public knowledge that storing rods in pools is vulnerable to natural disasters. But this is nothing more than a band-aid for the next few decades.

And then what?

Will our children have better answers? Is it right to leave this to them?

Can you justify creating any more nuclear waste? No. I didn’t think so.

I invite you to watch the video here.

NRC hearing on Vermont Yankee set for Wednesday

Officials from the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission will be on hand for a public hearing this week on the agency’s annual review of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant.

The NRC gave the Vernon reactors good marks in a review issued in March, and now is inviting public comment at a session set for this Wednesday from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Brattleboro Union High School.

The session will feature presentations by officials from the NRC, followed by a period devoted to comments from the public.


New England Coalition urges in-depth review of Vermont Yankee

On May 19th, NEC joined the Maryland-based national organization, Beyond Nuclear, and an unknown number of regional organizations, in an enforcement petition with the NRC that would have that agency undertake a precautionary shutdown of 24 US “boiling water” nuclear reactors, including in New England, Entergy Pilgrim and Entergy Vermont Yankee, until basic design flaws that became evident at Fukushima are fixed and the remedies independently verified as technically sound and workable.

According to NEC’s technical issues advisor, Raymond Shadis, “one truly problematic feature of the boiling water reactors is their compact and complicated containment system. Industry calls it a ‘suppression system’ because it is designed to handle steam overpressure in an accident by directing steam into a ‘suppression water pool’ where the steam is condensed. However, the system is complicated by pumps, valves, return lines, suppression pool cooling systems, pressure and water level balance procedures, and more. Most of this apparently went wrong at Fukushima and believe it or not this complicated rig was chosen as a cost-saving measure as compared to the large robust reinforced concrete domes we picture as typical of pressure water reactors. I call it the ‘econo-containment’ and I really can’t think of a fix but I do believe in light of the Japanese reactor failures that NRC and the industry owe it to a vulnerable public to at least try.”

Earlier on April 15th, NEC joined 45 national and regional environmental, safety, and sustainable energy advocacy organizations, coast-to-coast, in an emergency petition, directly to the NRC’s five Commissioners, to hold all license renewal and new power plant licensing actions until equipment and operational failures at the Fukushima, Japan nuclear power plant disaster are analyzed and lessons learned from those failures are applied to U.S. reactors. Although the petition came too late to be filed in the license renewal proceeding for Entergy Vermont Yankee, which was terminated over NEC objections the day before the earthquake and tsunami triggered the nuclear meltdowns and fires at Fukushima, it has been filed in the license renewal case of Entergy’s Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station, a close twin to Entergy Vermont Yankee. NEC believes the implications of any new requirements for Pilgrim would be implicit for Vermont Yankee. The petition was also filed in the Seabrook Nuclear Generating Station license renewal proceeding where NEC and the Maine-based, Friends of the Coast, are co-intervenor.

A public meeting (teleconference) with NRC petition review board (PRB) has been scheduled on June 8, 2011, from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM to regarding this petition. Dial-in information:             800-772-3842      , Pin 2206 followed by # . Members of the public may listen in but may not be able to offer comments.

About the New England Coalition

NEC, organized and founded in 1971, is the region’s sole advocate for environmental and nuclear safety with intervenor status in the Entergy Vermont Yankee federal relicensing process, and is an intervenor in two open dockets before the Vermont Public Service Board Docket 7440 – Shall Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee receive a CPG for an additional years of operation and less widely reported Docket 7600 – opened as a result of Entergy’s misinformation in Docket 7440, re: underground pipes and groundwater contamination.

Rolling Stone takes on “America’s Nuclear Nightmare”

There are a few things I love about Rolling Stone. Writer Rob Sheffield is at the top of that list. And while I could do without the far-too-frequent bimbo covers (my reason for dumping the subscription when my daughters were tweens), yet every once in a while they publish something bold and brave that gives me hope that modern day journalism has not completely lost its backbone.

Check out Jeff Goodell’s article in which he states it plain:

“regulators are ignoring the risks and boosting industry profits”

NRC asked to take a breather

On Friday, April 15, 2011, the good Bob Audette, staff reporter for the Brattleboro Reformer, reported that “forty-five groups and individuals either opposed to or in support of increased safety measures at nuclear power plants around the nation submitted a petition Thursday to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission asking it suspend all re-licensing activities of existing plants and all licensing activities of proposed plants.” in order to give the NRC the opportunity to determine what lessons can be learned from the nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan. (

One spokesperson, attorney Diane Curran, who specializes in nuclear safety and security, has gone so far as to state that the NRC has violated the law in granting the 20-year license extension to Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee within days of the damage done to reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

It seems quite reasonable that the NRC — whose role is to REGULATE nuclear power plants — would want to wait and see and carefully consider the events at Fukushima before granting a twenty year license extension to a leaking plant at the end of the lifespan it was designed for. Remember that Vermont Yankee is a boiling water reactor, the same type as the plant in Fukushima.

Japanese nuclear regulators declared this week that the severity of the disaster at Fukushima has been classified a Level 7 on the International Nuclear Event Scale, putting it on par with the 1986 accident at Chernobyl. ( and

The license extension for Vermont Yankee is one of 21 proposed nuclear reactor projects in 15 states that would be placed on hold until the post-crisis analysis can be completed. There was a year and a half hold on nuclear projects after the accident at Three Mile Island. It is good common sense to step back now and learn everything possible about the events in Japan so that we can carefully assess our risk potential in light of this new and quite tangible information.

I wish to extend my thanks to the organizations like the New England Coalition and Pilgrim Watch — and the many individuals who comprise them — for their continued efforts to enforce common sense through legal channels, especially when the regulatory body we rely on does not appear to have the best interests of the public as their foremost priority.

Now is the time for continued damage control, thorough assessment, and thoughtful conclusions so that all current and future nuclear projects can be reviewed with greater clarity and accuracy.

U.S. Sees Array of New Threats at Japan’s Nuclear Plant

Fukushima Nuclear Plant

Photo: Public Domain

United States government engineers sent to help with the crisis in Japan are warning that the troubled nuclear plant there is facing a wide array of fresh threats that could persist indefinitely, and that in some cases are expected to increase as a result of the very measures being taken to keep the plant stable, according to a confidential assessment prepared by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Full story:

IAEA and TEPCO: The devil is relying on the Bible (via )

IAEA and TEPCO: The devil is relying on the Bible Japanese people hear it from Fukshima day One: "Panic and fear of radiation is much worse than radiation itself" This statement is used by the IAEA for Chernobyl victims. The IAEA ignores cancer, leukemia, diabetes, trisomy 21, all kinds of illness, all kinds of cancer in connection with radiation, especially low radiation. The IAEA calls it "Radiophobia". The present and future victims are perceived as a disturbance to the atomic industry, to th … Read More


U.S. Nuclear Energy Industry still attempting spin as Japanese nuclear plant desperately attempts to avoid total meltdown

The crisis at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant continues to escalate. The word Chernobyl has not been uttered this many times in the media since the twentieth anniversary of the disaster in 2006. Yet the U.S. nuclear industry is doing its best to try to convince politicians and voters alike that there’s no problem here, folks… just move along.

Under the headline story, “Third blast rocks Japanese nuclear facility,” the March 16th edition of NEI SmartBrief (“News about the nuclear technologies industry”) continues with the following stories:

Jaczko allays U.S. radiation concerns from damaged Japanese reactors” – wherein Gregory Jaczo, chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission attempts to reassure us by stating, “Hazardous radiation levels from the damaged reactors in Japan are ‘unlikely’ to reach the U.S.”

(HEY! Were you the same guy that told us that a disaster of the magnitude of Chernobyl was unlikely to happen again?)

Then, as if the entire rest of the world doesn’t, in fact, exist, he continues to make us feel safe with, “You just aren’t going to have any radiological material that, by the time it traveled those large distances, could present any risk to the American public.” Phew. (Wait. Did he actually just say that out loud?)

Next the brilliant minds at the NRC (the very same governing body that just tried to green light a twenty year license extension for a leaking plant in Vermont that is roughly the same age and type as the UNSTABLE plant in Japan) are featured in the next piece, “NRC: U.S. reactors are capable of handling disasters.” I’m sorry, were they unaware that the plant in Japan is the same age and type as Entergy’s Vermont Yankee plant? Because it seems to me that we now have the dubious fortune of seeing exactly what will happen to the plants of this type and this age when faced with disaster. THEY WILL BECOME THE DISASTER.

And just to cap it off, I’ll share this last pathetic morsel from the newsletter. “Sen. Alexander: U.S. must continue using nuclear energy

And I quote:

“The U.S. shouldn’t give up on nuclear energy because of the Japanese reactor crisis, said Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn. “The lesson that America can take away is this: learn all we can from this Japanese experience to make the operation of American reactors as safe as possible,” he said. Alexander, who has advocated 100 new nuclear facilities in the next two decades, cited the nuclear industry’s positive track record on safety.”

I can’t even comment here. I can’t type. I’m choking. But if he were within arms reach, I’d smack him myself.

On a positive note, however, some of the good, smart people who have been trying to spread the WAKE UP call are being heard. In a CNN article published this afternoon, Tom Cochran, a senior scientist in the nuclear program at the Natural Resources Defense Council stated, “”We’ve watched Exxon Valdez, the BP oil spill, numerous coal mining accidents, Chernobyl, TMI, now Fukushima, slag ponds, TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority) reactors giving way. You have got to ask yourself, how many wake-up calls do you need before you get serious about building a safe, renewable-energy economy?”

Thanks, Tom. I’m hoping for the best.

I’m ranting about old nuke plants because I never want to say I told you so

… and here I am in New Zealand (my first home in a country with absolutely no nukes) praying that Japan can avert a total meltdown… or two… or three… in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami… and wondering what the global impact of this disaster will be… wondering which way the wind will blow.

Worst case scenario? Chernobyl times three. Need a reminder? Please, have a look at Want to feel terror? Have a look at Paul Fusco’s photos from Belarus and Ukraine.

I have said it a million times, and still no one has presented a valid argument to refute it: There is NO JUSTIFICATION for nuclear power that adequately accounts for the potential risks. There is no basis for comparison that gives nuclear the advantage; NOT ONE.

From the Eurasian Review:

Japan:Nuclear Meltdown Fears With Fourth Explosion; Radiation Leak Threat

With a fourth explosion rocking the Fukushima nuclear facility on Tuesday and radiation levels at the facility gate increasing hundredfold, fears of a meltdown in Japan dramatically increase.

­In his televised address on Tuesday, Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan announced that radiation had spread from the three damaged reactors in the Fukushima nuclear plant. A no-fly zone has been imposed over the nuclear plant. The prime minister has also asked people living within 30 kilometers of the Fukushima complex to stay indoors to avoid potential health risks from radiation.

Full story:

From staff and news service reports:

Japan radiation alert: 140,000 ordered indoors

‘These are figures that potentially affect health. There is no mistake about that’

SOMA, Japan — Dangerous levels of radiation leaking from a crippled nuclear plant forced Japan to order 140,000 people to seal themselves indoors Tuesday after an explosion and a fire dramatically escalated the 4-day-old crisis spawned by a deadly tsunami.

Adding to the mounting crisis, the international nuclear agency said a fire in a storage pond for spent nuclear fuel at a tsunami-stricken Japanese power plant had released radioactivity directly into the atmosphere.

Full story:

The email I got from Jim Riccio, Nuclear Policy Analyst for Greenpeace, said it best, “The simple truth is that no matter how advanced the technology and how prepared a country might be to deal with a disaster it doesn’t change the fact that nuclear power is inherently dangerous and always will be.

Wake The Hell Up

File this under “Government: Why I’m Ashamed” – NRC to extend license of Entergy’s leaky old nuke plant

You have got to be kidding me. Could the government agency we rely on to REGULATE nuclear power plants in America actually give a green light to a nuke plant that has been leaking Tritium into ground water and Cobalt-60, Manganese-54, Zinc-65, and Cesium-137 into the soil??? (Don’t believe me? Read the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commissions letter regarding their inspection report from May 2010:

The host state of Vermont voted for its closure. More importantly, though, it was only built to last until 2012, which is why it should be decommissioned and NOT given another 20 years of escalating risk for a catastrophic accident. Even without a major disaster, the risks of substantial environmental damage from the ongoing use of an over-age nuclear plant is simply not worth it.

There is no basis to justify a license extension for Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee. No argument can be made that can justify the potential risks involved. And yet that is just what is happening. WAKE THE HELL UP, PEOPLE!

Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee on August 21, 2007

Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee on August 21, 2007

Entergy’s Vermont Nuclear Unit Cleared for License Renewal

By Mark Chediak – Mar 11, 2011 10:52 AM GMT+1300

The federal nuclear agency will issue a 20-year license extension after upholding an agency board ruling that rejected a challenge to the renewal, Gregory Jaczko, chairman of the commission, said today during a conference call with reporters. The license will be issued in a “matter of days,” Jaczko said.

The commission voted 4-0 to support a decision by its Atomic Safety Licensing Board that denied an objection to the license by New England Coalition on Nuclear Pollution, Eliot Brenner, a commission spokesman, said during the call. The coalition had raised concerns about Entergy’s oversight of underground pipes that had leaked at the plant, according to a statement posted on the Brattleboro, Vermont-based group’s website.

“We believe Entergy, through the exhaustive review that we’ve done for license renewal, meets all of our requirements and standards needed to be able to operate for another 20 years,” Jaczko said.


To the NRC: Are your standards so low that a leaking old nuclear reactor could be given another 20 years to operate? Is there no one amongst you with the morals and integrity to challenge this blatant disregard for our well being?

Wake The Hell Up

Reactors… reacting, as Entergy attempts to offload burden

On November 8th, the New York Times reported the NRC’s statement, “A transformer exploded on Sunday evening at the Indian Point 2 nuclear plant in northern Westchester County, N.Y., causing a fire and an automatic shutdown of the reactor.”

The plant is 36 years old. Three years ago, a transformer fire occurred at Indian Point 3, just next door. These plants have reached old age. The NRC’s report identified the cause of the 2007 incident as unnoticed deterioration of parts.

Its sister reactor to the north, Vermont Yankee, is 38 years old and two years away from its expiration date. And that very same night, someone noticed that it was leaking again… leaking radioactive water intended to cool the reactor.

You see, Vermont Yankee went through her transformer fire phase a little earlier, back in 2004.

Transformer fire at Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee in June 2004

June 18, 2004 - Fire at Vermont Yankee

So, if we are to gain some insight from recent history, we can expect leaking underground pipes just upstream from New York City within the next couple of years.

So, do you think the good people at Entergy are preparing for the likelihood of this event? Probably not, because they’re focusing their efforts elsewhere right now. Specifically, they’re busy scrambling to find a sucker, i mean a buyer, for the Vermont Yankee plant.

There are no plans in the works as far as I know to adequately upgrade these aging plants as they reach retirement age. What seems apparent is that corporations like Entergy are too busy trying to squeeze out the last drops of financial return on their investments to adequately focus on the increasing risks that these plants pose.

And, seriously, if you told me you were thinking about buying a leaking old nuke plant two years before it is scheduled to be decommissioned, I’d think you were either really stupid, really dangerous, or both.

It is time to shut the old plants down and get the best and brightest working on  a sustainable source for our future energy needs. Do you doubt we can do this? This is America, right?


Associated Press reports, “Vermont Yankee has been hampered by problems this year.”

In frighteningly Onion-esque fashion (, the Associated Press states one of the most obvious facts in current news (original article here). Yes, Vermont Yankee has been hampered by problems this year. This is due to the simple fact that Vermont Yankee was only built to serve up to this point.

Vermont Yankee was built on the specification that it would be shut down in 2012. To be fair, those guys did a pretty decent job building the plant based on those parameters.  I mean, other than the transformer fire in 2004 and the leaking underground pipes this year, there haven’t been any major issues.

But facts are facts. No matter how much energy is produced by the plant… and no matter how many jobs will be lost in the process, this plant was only designed to last this long. We know it’s not right to fool with Mother Nature. Well, it’s downright STUPID to fool with a nuke plant which has reached its expiration date. Any reasonable person knows this, right?

Entergy Nuclear must think we are pretty stupid, though. They tried to extend the operating life of the plant for another twenty years. Thankfully, some of the leaders in Vermont were strong and vocal enough to prevent this. But now they are talking about selling the plant? You have got to be kidding me!

Wake up, people. A new leak of radioactive materials sprung this weekend. Entergy’s spokesperson says it’s not harmful. Last I checked, radioactive materials were indeed harmful, even in small doses.

This is a pathetically typical example of a corporation’s attempt to cash out right as their investment is reaching maturity. Don’t let them abandon their responsibilities. Make sure they close Vermont Yankee as was the plan from the very beginning. Please.

NEC continues to take Vermont Yankee to task

Anti-nuke coalition counters Vermont Yankee filing on preemption

From The Rutland Herald

By Susan Smallheer
Staff Writer – Published: September 12, 2010

MONTPELIER — The issue of federal preemption at the Vermont Yankee nuclear reactor over last winter’s radioactive tritium leak continues to simmer.

In a filing Friday with the Vermont Public Service Board, the New England Coalition, a nonprofit anti-nuclear organization, said that Entergy Nuclear’s attempt to re-examine the issue of preemption is unnecessary and the company has failed to offer any valid reasons for another bite at the legal apple.

Vermont has every right to investigate and protect its groundwater, the coalition argued, and there is well-established evidence that such radiological leaks ultimately increase the costs of decommissioning.

The Vermont Public Service Board opened an investigation into the tritium leak at Vermont Yankee in February, to determine whether the leak had environmental or economic ramifications, particularly in the area of the ultimate decommissioning of the power facility and the contamination of groundwater.

The issue of federal preemption has ramifications beyond the board’s investigation, since Entergy Nuclear’s license extension request is still pending before the board. The Vermont Senate failed to endorse a license extension for Vermont Yankee in February, effectively putting the Public Service Board’s review of the license in limbo.

In earlier filings, Entergy Nuclear had challenged the board’s right to investigate the tritium leak, which is still being cleaned up. The leak, which was a result of several problems with the advanced off-gas drainage system, leaked more than tritium into the groundwater and ground at Vermont Yankee in Vernon.

The New England Coalition’s reply brief to legal documents filed in the case last month strongly criticized legal arguments raised by both Entergy and the attorney for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, which has about 180 union members working at the reactor. The IBEW had not raised any independent issues and was essentially echoing any legal arguments raised by Entergy, said the coalition’s attorney, Jared Margolis of Jericho.

Margolis said that Entergy “continues to confuse and misuse the applicable Supreme Court precedent” on the issue of nuclear preemption.

“Entergy has attempted, without valid support and through misusing the language of the Supreme Court, to alter the well-settled precedent creating dual jurisdiction over nuclear power general,” Margolis wrote in his brief.

Margolis noted that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that only the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has control over radiological safety levels, and was not something sought by the Vermont Public Service Board.

Robert Williams, spokesman for Entergy Nuclear, couldn’t be reached for comment Saturday.

Clay Turnbull of Townshend, a spokesman for the New England Coalition, said Saturday that Entergy continued to raise the preemption issue “that was settled a long time ago” rather than move forward with the Public Service Board’s investigation of the tritium leak.

The coalition believes that the leak, as well as the leak of other, more dangerous radiological materials such as strontium-90, cesium 137 and cobalt-60, will increase the costs of decommissioning Vermont Yankee and returning the Vernon site to the original 1968 promise of a “green field” after the plant shut down. Vermont Yankee’s federal license to operate and its state certificate of public good both expire in 2012.