Category Archives: death

Words of fury, despair

Vermont Yankee is old and unsafe

Vermont Yankee is old and unsafe

An editorial published on

Vermont Yankee produces about 30 tons a year of the most toxic and long-lasting waste known to man, which will stay forever on the banks of the Connecticut River in casks that, over its half-life of 250,000 years, will crack every 100 years or so, leaving this unspeakable waste to thousands of generations of our children (if they live). Ray Shadis called it “the gift that keeps on killing.” Every minute of the day and night it releases radioactive material in the air, none of which is safe, and since children are most vulnerable, they, our children, have been and will continue to be, victims of cancers and leukemias as long as the reactor is rattling along like a broken down old car.

On top of all that there is a sneaky connection between nuclear reactors and the military, with “depleted” uranium (which is making the world for the world’s children a radioactive wasteland) and nuclear bombs, which are all part of the atom-smashing process. Helen Caldecott called Vermont Yankee a “cancer and a bomb factory that must be shut down.”

I understand completely why Sally Shaw placed compost (which she called “good waste”) on the table behind which Entergy’s officials and the NRC sat. Anyone who doesn’t understand, and because of that, not only condemns her, but in the Legislature, might vote to poison us and keep us in constant fear for our children and grandchildren for 20 more years, was never on the side of desperate parents and grandparents anyway, and care nothing about our children.

There are times when I am so tired of feeling sad, hopeless, and cynical in the face of corporate power, that I can hardly find the right words. However, criticism of Sally’s despair and fury, which I share, made me find some.

Thank you, Sally.

South Londonderry

(Thank YOU, Jane. You are NOT alone!)


NRC definitely having “issues” dealing with New England

Nuclear Regulatory Commission under fire over fire

Rep. Markey looking for answers from regulators on Pilgrim safety oversight

The Patriot Ledger
Posted Nov 05, 2008 @ 05:30 AM


U.S. Rep. Edward Markey is using a fire last week at the Pilgrim nuclear power plant in Plymouth to turn up the heat on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Markey sent a letter to the federal agency on Friday, posing a long list of questions about the Oct. 29 fire in an outbuilding at the plant property that the plant operator says was contained to one room.

The Malden Democrat, a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce committee, has longstanding concerns about the NRC’s oversight of its fire safety rules. Markey believes that the agency isn’t doing enough to ensure that nuclear plant operators meet or exceed the agency’s fire safety standards.

“I have yet to be persuaded that the NRC is on a path to do the right thing and require the nation’s plants to be brought (into) compliance with NRC’s fire protection regulations,” Markey wrote in the letter to NRC Chairman Dale Klein. “This latest event only heightens my concern and my interest in assuring that all appropriate measures are undertaken to protect these facilities against dangerous fires.”

Diane Screnci, a spokeswoman for the nuclear agency, said the two NRC inspectors assigned to the plant are investigating the fire’s cause and reviewing plant owner Entergy Corp.’s steps to ensure such a fire doesn’t happen again. Screnci said the agency received Markey’s letter and will respond as quickly as possible to the congressman.

Read the entire story >

Wake up, all you Harrys

Please have a look. Paul Fusco’s photos were what made indesputible the photos my friend had brought back from Pripyat and the area around the plant.

Twenty three years ago, the area looked a lot like southern Vermont. Until their nuclear power plant had an accident. Now it is expected to take up to 20,000 years (as if) for that piece of earth to heal from the contamination.

Entergy Corporation wants to extend the license of Vermont Yankee for another 20 years — that’s TWENTY YEARS beyond the date that the original architects designed it to operate for,

Are we safe from accidents?

June 18, 2004 - Fire at Vermont Yankee

June 18, 2004 - Fire at Vermont Yankee

August 21, 2007

August 21, 2007

 I said, are we SAFE FROM ACCIDENTS at Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee?


Reformer reports radiation levels measured at the fence line of Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant were 30 percent higher in 2007 than in 2006

Vermont Yankee fence line dose up 30 percent

BOB AUDETTE, Reformer Staff

Saturday, July 26

BRATTLEBORO — Radiation levels measured at the fence line of Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant were 30 percent higher in 2007 than in 2006.Despite the 30 percent increase, the report stated the highest fence line measurement recorded by the Vermont Department of Health was less than 18 millirem.

“At no time has Vermont Yankee posed a measurable risk to public health,” said Health Commissioner Wendy Davis.

Although radiation levels were found to be higher than in previous years, they are still below the health department’s regulatory limit of 20 millirem per year, a limit that is more protective than any other state or federal agency, said Bill Irwin, the chief of radiological health for Vermont’s Department of Health.

“We are talking about very low levels of exposure and dose,” he said. “Public exposure at those levels and the doses that do come from those exposures are unlikely to contribute measurably to risk.”

With a carcinogen such as ionizing radiation, there is no way to eliminate all risk short of not having any exposure at all.

Still, he said, “The amount of risk is very small if it can be measured at all.”

[Blogger’s note: I’m feeling safe and reassured. You? (WAKE THE HELL UP!)]

Read the entire story:

Poughkeepsie Journal–Radioactive material found near plant

August 5, 2008

Radioactive material found near plant

By Greg Clary
Gannett News Service

BUCHANAN — Radioactive strontium 90 has been found in trace amounts in a monitoring well next to Indian Point — the first time the isotope has been detected in off-site groundwater since workers discovered a spent fuel pool leak three years ago.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is expected to speak with county officials and others in an afternoon conference call today with Entergy, so the company could detail the preliminary test results it found during routine well sampling on the property, according to NRC documents obtained by The (Westchester) Journal News.

Entergy Nuclear, which owns and operates Indian Point, has been working to stop spent fuel pool leaks that have sent water containing strontium 90 and tritium into the Hudson River.

The test results show strontium levels that are less than 1/16th of federal allowable limits for drinking water, the well tested was not for drinking water.

NRC officials said it was the first time since the leaks showed up in 2005 on the Indian Point property that strontium 90 had showed up in off-site wells.

According to the documents, Entergy officials believe the sample showed the traces of strontium 90 because the most recent test are conducted with a more sensitive analysis, not because of increased levels of radioactivity.

NRC officials said they are fast-tracking a portion of the sample that they took during the test, to check the results as quickly as possible.

Settlement Offered to Some Residents Near Pa. Nuke Fuel Plant

I have fielded many questions and accusations from friends, family and colleagues regarding nuclear power, based on their television understanding. I am nowhere near an expert, but does it require more than a few examples like the one below to get the big picture here?

 It seems to me that if people would wake the hell up and start questioning what they’re being fed on the surface, and have a quick look at what’s been slipping by their deficient radar, the overhead light bulbs would glow, cartoon-style. How could they not?


We know that this is true financially. Have a look at NUKEFREE.ORG’s ATOMIC ECONOMICS for details:

 We also know that nuclear power’s negative impact on the environment will always outweigh the dubious benefit of not releasing the same air pollutants as traditional energy sources. Check out nuclear power’s “Power Scorecard”:

But even if no other reason existed, isn’t it enough to know that radiation exposure… even small doses over a prolonged period of time… will cause cancers that destroy human life… and get passed on in the form of severe birth defects and more cancer?

Photographer Paul Fusco produced a multi-media photo essay and book on the lingering effects of the Chernobyl accident

Isn’t this enough?

Isn’t this enough?

Maybe this will be enough…

i hope so. -tk

February 08, 2008 (Associated Press YORK – Atlantic Richfield Co. has offered $27.5 million to settle claims that pollution from a nuclear fuel processing plant damaged nearby residents’ property and caused cancer and other illnesses.ARCO and plaintiff attorneys asked a federal judge to approve the proposed settlement in a joint motion filed in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh this week.

The case concerns the former Nuclear Materials and Equipment Corp., or NUMEC, which processed uranium and plutonium for nuclear submarines and other purposes at a plant in Apollo borough and another in neighboring Parks Township, about 35 miles northeast of Pittsburgh. The Apollo plant was built in 1957, and the Parks plant was built a few years later.

Residents say they inhaled white radioactive dust for three decades and that microscopic particles of uranium from the plant caused an unusually high cancer rate. A doctor once testified that 351 of Apollo’s 1,895 residents, or nearly one in five, had been diagnosed with some form of cancer.

Atlantic Richfield Co. bought both plants in 1967 and sold them to Babcock & Wilcox Co. in 1971.

The settlement provides “a fairly nice cash award to each of our clients,” said Frederick M. Baron, a Dallas attorney who also represented Karen Silkwood in her radiation-poisoning case. “But more importantly, they retain their ability to continue against Babcock & Wilcox. They are the most responsible party in our view.”

More than 300 people filed claims that fell into three groups: property damage, personal injury and wrongful death.

Personal injury and wrongful death claims under the proposed settlement are “by and large are in the six-figure area,” Baron said Friday. Property damage claims would be $10,000 or less.

An attorney for ARCO declined to comment Friday.

But in court documents, attorneys for both sides called the proposed settlement fair because it’s not known what, if anything, the plaintiffs might ultimately win from ARCO.

Attorneys for the various companies who ran the nuclear plants have argued that radioactive emissions had been filtered out and that, even if residents had been exposed, radiation levels were too low to cause cancer or other illnesses.

In a 1998 U.S. District Court trial in Pittsburgh, eight test plaintiffs won $36.7 million from ARCO and Babcock & Wilcox. A judge, however, ordered a retrial after determining that she had wrongly allowed some evidence in the case.

The retrial was delayed when Babcock & Wilcox filed bankruptcy, largely because of unrelated asbestos litigation. ARCO opted to settle claims against it before they can be retried.

Earlier this year, former workers at the Apollo site became part of a special compensation class for sick nuclear workers. The fund entitles them to $150,000 each.

To qualify for the compensation, former workers must have worked at the Apollo plant for at least 250 days between 1957 and 1983 and have one of 22 different cancers. Sick workers who do not have one of the 22 cancers may be eligible for compensation, but must meet different criteria.

Atlantic Richfield is owned by BP plc.

Rob Sheffield kicks ass

Love Is A Mix Tape by Rob SheffieldI would like to thank the universe for Rob Sheffield. Who, you might wonder, is he? He’s a writer for Rolling Stone. That may not be very inspirational for people. In fact, after a few years of every other cover being plastered with boob-bimbos, I let my subscription lapse last year. But fuck Rolling Stone. That’s not why i love Rob Sheffield.

Last year, this unassuming writer released his own story… the story of his love… who died… when he was barely attaining grown-up status… and probably just getting used to the idea of having a wife… being in love… and being as dearly loved as he was. And I, for one, am incredibly grateful for it.

I have my own story… and have gotten used to the idea that no one in the universe could possibly understand what it is to be me — a seemingly happy, off-the-wall woman at large in the world… who loved and lost my soulmate before i was even old enough to know what I was blessed enough to have had. I was 21… he was 23… and suddenly, (so fucking suddenly), he was gone.

He was the single human being that I knew was my friend forever in this crazy, fickle existance… the one who knew me completely — and blessed as I am, loved me anyway.

There are many beloved people who have come close to sharing what I have shared with Michael. But now nearly 17 years gone, the man is nearly perfect in my eyes. Despite giggling at the idea, I can not deny it is true.

 This summer, someone told me about Sheffield’s book, “Love Is A Mixed Tape.” Based on the title alone, it hit a chord more resonant than any other recommendation for summer reading. I guess that the mixed tapes being produced these days are few and far between. Yet they were a component of my dialogue with Michael… the love of my life… that enabled us to express the things we were simply too young and too stupid to express in any other way.

To be fair, that’s not entirely true. In addition to the many mixed tapes we made for one another, we had a penchant for tearing pages out of books… and transcribing ridiculously long poems to one another. Yet, the mixed tapes were our love letters. In his absence, I remain so grateful for the songs that became ours.

Anyway… for a month, I’ve had a note in my calendar that Rob Sheffield would be at a bookstore in Brookline tonight. It would have been easy not to make it, as there are at least a half-dozen legitimate reasons why I should have been home. But in the hour I had before he was to appear, I managed to burn a disc of songs from the “For Michael” collection (that never made it to a mix before he left). I packed my tear-soaked copy of his book in my bag, along with the cd, and rode with my ex-huband and friend to the book store.

Rob Sheffield is a real guy, and a nice one at that. I listened to him speak… and then watched him gracefully sign a couple dozen books before I reached the head of the line. The only thing I could utter when I reached the head of the line were a few words of thanks… from someone who had experienced something similar… and UNDERSTOOD his experience.

I gave him the cd I had made for him. I really do hope he enjoys it, and doesn’t find it too morose. In his unassuming way, he wrote a short message in my book:

“Thanks, Trish. Thanks for knowing.“‘

I don’t think thanks are necessary for having the experience I have had. Yet he and I are inevitably kindred in the experience of being left behind… and having to live a life that will never be what we had once anticipated that it would be.

Here’s the mix… entitiled, “Love Is A Mix”:

01. You’re In My Heart (Rod Stewart)

02. Remember (Ben Harper)

03. Always (October Project)

04. Sail Away (David Gray)’

05. Thank You (Led Zeppelin)

06. Alone (Susan Tedeschi)

07. Back To You (John Mayer)

08. Wild Horses (Natasha Bedingfield)

09. If Not For You (Bob Dylan)

10. When I Look To The Sky (Train)

11. World Without You (Beth Hart)

12. Not Fire, Not Ice (Ben Harper)

13. I Still Carry You Around (Steve Earle)

14. Every Moment (Napoleon Dynamite soundtrack)

15. All That Matters (Mark Knopfler)

16. Searching (Damian “Junior Gong” Marley)

17. Falling Down The Mountainside (David Gray)

18. See You In The Light (Michael Franti & Spearhead)

 Thanks, Rob. I can’t imagine being brave enough to tell such a personal story. I might change my mind about that, someday… only because any description of the last few years would simply be required to include if I were really to tell the tale. In the meanwhile, it is rather incredible to know that I have a kindred spirit amongst the world at large… and that, somehow, we’re gonna be just fine.


i don’t watch horror films. The last one i saw was Silence of the Lambs, which fulfilled my life quota (God-willing) of psycho shit. i haven’t bothered to watch another one since.

That said, i am fascinated by war movies. They reinforce the knowledge that war is a severely outdated method to conflict resolution. Yet what i find most compelling is the soldier’s experience.

i just saw the end of the movie, Jarheads. i hadn’t sought it out. i was just waking my teen who had fallen asleep on the couch… and found it on the television. The moment i saw the Marines — just actors playing Marines, i sat down, immediately sucked in.

As much as i hate war, i have an incredible respect for the Marines. i always have.

Charlie Company, First Marine Battalion, Eighth Regiment, Fallujah, December 2004. Photograph by Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times.
Charlie Company, First Marine Battalion, Eighth Regiment, Fallujah, December 2004. Photograph by Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times.

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The plants are getting old. It’s really time to wake up.

I must say that after many years of reading the Brattleboro Reformer, I was never especially proud to call it my hometown paper. In fact, it isn’t even my hometown paper anymore. With my move to the big/little city four years ago, I traded the Reformer for what should have been the improved, edgy, urban version of a hometown paper. Unfortunately, it was the Cambridge Chronicle… which provided my first reason for gaining a certain level of respect for Brattleboro’s daily rag.

Not to digress too much, suffice it to say that in my 38 years on the planet, i have never come across a local weekly newspaper who seems to go so far out of its way to scandalize any city news it can get its manipulative hands on, with particular dramatics applied to any news related to the city’s public school system, as I have in the Cambridge Chronicle.

Having the opportunity to work within the walls of the city’s only public high school, I can say that all of the amazing and positive things that I see happening every single day are largely ignored by the Chronicle so that they can bolster their campaign to erroneously prove that there is little more than crime and corruption blanketing the school. The most poignant example was on the high school’s graduation day in the first year that I lived here. While every other paper in the United States published photos of caps in the air amidst stories focused on the unlimited potential of their graduates, the Chronicle headlined something about the 70-odd kids who failed to pass the state’s MCAS exam who wouldn’t be joining their classmates at the ceremony that day,

The Chronicle failed to mention the number of students who spoke one of the sixty or so non-English languages amongst their nearly 2,000 graduates… or when these non-graduating students began their education within the city. That was my first experience of disgust with a local newspaper… and the first time, in reflection, that I gained any measure of respect for the Reformer.

Since the spring of 2006, my friend (and partner in crime) and I have been submitting periodic press releases to the Reformer regarding the anti-nuclear photography project we’ve created ( Not a single one was ever printed. Recently, a Letter to the Editor was published that said friend, John, had written in response to a previously published letter attempting to debunk the Chernobyl-Vernon connection with claims of superior technology and oversight in the Vermont Yankee plant. Due to its well-researched and highly technical nature, John’s response was printed in the paper… completely destroying all arguments made in the initial letter.

Due to a random stroke of luck, today I read the paper’s editorial of September 1st entitled, “Who’s Minding the Plant?” ( And today, I have recognized that, once in a while, even a small, local newspaper is capable of the courage necessary to let the truth override the politics of corporate contributions to the community and speak out about untenable situations that are otherwise being diminished or simply ignored by the larger media outlets.

Dear Brattleboro Reformer, you have gained my respect today. While your coverage of the plant has been mildly critical up to this point, I think you’ve finally managed to see the value of the contribution that you can make in terms of challenging the status quo of silence with regard to the impact that the nuclear plant has on the overall well-being of a wonderful and unique community. I applaud you for your decision to print this editorial, and welcome you to an elite group of intelligent individuals who recognize the NO-WIN situation regarding the extended licensing and increased output of an aging nuke plant that should, indeed, be moving towards decommissioning rather than these risky propositions.

You’ve made me miss Vermont all the more… a nuclear-free Vermont, that is. 

When John returned from the Ukraine with photos of the city surrounding the Chernobyl nuclear plant, it was immediately obvious that there were many similarities between that community (Pripyat) prior to the disaster and our own, beloved southern Vermont region. Upon seeing hundreds of images of the impact that the nuclear disaster had on the region surrounding the Chernobyl plant, I saw how urgent the need was to educate those who would be impacted most should the Vermont Yankee plant face a similar fate.

What’s it gonna take folks, a meltdown?

ENVY Cooling Tower Failure August 21, 2007 

ENVY Cooling Tower Failure August 21, 2007

ENVY Cooling Tower Failure August 21, 2007

ENVY Cooling Tower Failure August 21, 2007

ENVY Cooling Tower Failure August 21, 2007

Latest News:


Congressional delegation calls investigation into Yankee mishap

MONTPELIER, Vt. —Vermont’s congressional delegation on Thursday requested a thorough investigation into the collapse of a portion of Vermont Yankee’s cooling tower. MORE >


State Official: Closer Inspections Needed at Yankee

Vernon, Vermont – August 24, 2007Vermont’s nuclear engineer says better inspections are needed at the state’s only nuclear power plant. That statement comes after a water cooling tower collapsed at Vermont Yankee in Vernon earlier this week. The state says what happened is unacceptable, and the water cooling tower failure has raised questions about the safety of the aging facility.

Three days after a cooling tower collapsed, Yankee Nuclear is working to figure out what went wrong, causing the wooden beams to give way. MORE >


Nuclear plant damage is worse than reported

Published: Friday, August 24, 2007
By Sam Hemingway
Free Press Staff Writer

A cooling tower structure at the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant that partially collapsed Tuesday underwent a full inspection as recently as this spring and was found to be in good condition, a company spokesman said Thursday. MORE >


State delegates press for thorough probe

By BOB AUDETTE, Reformer Staff

Friday, August 24

BRATTLEBORO — Vermont’s congressional delegation is demanding the Nuclear Regulatory Commission conduct “a thorough and complete investigation into the collapse of a portion of a cooling tower at Vermont Yankee.”  MORE >

Photo frames the worry over VY

Friday, August 24

The photo in Thursday’s Reformer of the collapsed wood structure that is one of 22 cooling cells at Vermont Yankee is unsettling, to say the least.

Entergy, owner of the Vernon nuclear reactor, continues to assert it practices impeccable maintenance protocol. If that is the case, it’s hard to understand why wooden beams and piping to the Connecticut River failed, sending water gushing to the ground.

We can’t fault the anti-nuclear activists, who must be saying, “We told you so.” We’re waiting for the NRC — and Entergy — to outline the cause of the failure and tell the truth plainly.


 Google News Search:,GGLD:2005-03,GGLD:en&q=news:+vermont+yankee+cooling&um=1&ncl=1119696841&sa=X&oi=news_result&resnum=1&ct=more-results&cd=1

People Moving On and the Soundtracks of Our Lives

I wish that the people I love would stop dying. I mean, it’s not like we’re even old yet. Today I waited all day for the phone call to come that he had passed… that his pain was gone… that he had returned home. But it didn’t come. So what I have now is the knowledge that he’s in a hell of a lot of pain… with what were described as morphine burns on his lips that keep him from being able to eat.

I continue to pray that the Lord will just take him home. But I don’t know if prayers count when one is totally pissed off about the situation.

Six months ago, he was a healthy man. He smoked too much, but other than that and some back pain that no doctor could seem to find a cause for, he was healthy and smiling — a God-fearin’ man who knew the bible better than most people I know… yet never crammed it down anyone’s throat.

He and I see most things from opposite ends of the spectrum. He’s a republican – and a Bush-man at that. He’s more Christian Right than most people I’d engage in political discussions with. And he’s a Yankee’s fan to boot. Yet despite my leftie perspective, he has always been a gentle debater (we left the most charged issues like abortion off the table). And no matter how much banter and betting there was before a Sox/Yanks game, he never said a word after the Yankees were triumphant. He is a gentleman in every sense of the word.

What we share is a great love of music. While he loves the blues the best… and I prefer the uplifting reggae/hip hop/jam bands… we both love good old rock and roll. It seems to be as much a part of who he is as who I am… which has been the thread that binds us. Hell, it’s not even thread. It’s rope; the big, thick rope you’ll find on a boat that’s been weathered smooth and soft.

About a month ago, it became clear that the chemo wasn’t cutting it and he chose to go the hospice route instead of pursuing other options. Strangely enough, someone had the idea of throwing him a party. Even more strange was that all of us, most importantly him, agreed to it.

Now what the hell does one bring to a goodbye party for a great guy who was leaving way too quickly and way too soon? There was only one thing I could think of… music.

I have made literally dozens of mixed tapes and their modern equivalent on disc. Most of the early ones were my half of the conversation between my true love and I as teens… the words we were unable to say out loud, but could share through the lyrics of Dylan and The Stones… Cat Stevens… Pink Floyd… The Doors and others. Could I make a mix for a dying man? I could certainly try. And I did… painstakingly in the week before the party. This is what I came up with:

1. Sometimes – Michael Franti & Spearhead (Live in Telluride from 2004)

2. If I Could – Phish

3. Take My Hand – Ben Harper & The Blind Boys of Alabama

4. Grateful – Wyclef Jean

5. Learning To Fly – Tom Petty

6. Way Over Yonder – Carole King

7. Joyful – Taj Mahal

8. Days Like This – Van Morrison

9. Feelin’ Free – Michael Franti & Spearhead

10. Son Of A Preacher Man – Joan Osborne (Live from Delta88 – the old blues club in NYC)

11. You Can Count On Me To Do My Part – Van Morrison

12. Opposites Attract – Susan Tedeschi

13. Keep On – Ziggy Marley and The Melody Makers

14. My Sweet One – Phish

15. If You Need Me – Wilson Pickett

16. Eyes Of The World – Grateful Dead

17. Carry On – CSN&Y

18. With A Little Help From My Friends – The Beatles

19. Ain’t That A Lot Of Love – Taj Mahal

20. Never Too Late – Michael Franti & Spearhead

I got to the party about an hour into the two that had been planned. He already looked exhausted and was flanked by his wife on one side and another dear friend who had tears streaming down her face on the other. I approached as unobtrusively as possible, put the disc in front of him, kissed him on the cheek with my hello… and then stepped slowly away.

It was the strangest party I’ve ever been to in its awkwardness and yet its joy. The mix was by far the most challenging I’ve attempted… and, to be honest, I don’t even know if he listened to it, as that was the last time I saw him. But I hope he did. Most of all, I hope he did… and found some spark of joy, some measure of peace.

I hate to have to say goodbye but I wouldn’t want to keep you here in pain, either, my friend. Thank you for reminding me how fleeting life is and not to postpone joy or love.