Closing Vermont Yankee: “Most Dangerous Year Ever Lies Ahead”

Long-Term Entergy Vermont Yankee Opponent Reacts to 2014 Closing Announcement:

Most Dangerous Year Ever Lies Ahead – For Regulators and Environmental Advocates – Hard Work of Decommissioning & Waste Fuel Storage Begins

“New England Coalition is most grateful that in a year the motive energy of the core reaction will be cut off and the core decay heat dissipated some few weeks later. If waste fuel is then expeditiously moved from Vermont Yankee’s elevated spent fuel pool to hardened dry cask storage,” said New England Coalition technical advisor, Raymond Shadis, “there will be no risk of another Fukushima on the banks of the Connecticut.”

“With an antiquated, increasingly frail Entergy Vermont Yankee running at extended power uprate we have a very dangerous year to traverse. Add the fact that Vermont Yankee’s most in demand, most skilled employees will be leaving in droves well in advance of the closing and the remaining demoralized employees will be  busy reading the help-wanted pages instead of the gauges, and it is likely to be Vermont Yankee’s most dangerous year of operation ever,” he said.

“Environmental and public safety advocates and regulators must stay on their toes at this most crucial time,” he said.

“One fundamental purpose of our advocacy has always been to try to protect the public and the environment from nuclear waste – waste in the fuel, in the reactor, in the pool, out-in-the-yard, soon to be released in the next reactor or fuel handling accident, and out on the wind. Soon, Entergy Vermont Yankee, a nuclear waste pile that generated electricity will stop generating electricity – and it will either be mothballed or promptly torn apart but it will be, absent electricity generation,  just a nuclear waste pile….from which the public and the environment need to be protected.

“So, the planned 2014 closing (if Entergy doesn’t change its mind) is a real milestone to getting Vermont and the region off of the poison power path, but our work is just beginning,” Shadis said.

Diana Sidebotham of Putney, past president and one of the original founders of New England Coalition in 1971, commented that Entergy’s announcement was notable as well for what it didn’t say. ”It’s very interesting that Entergy gives no indication of what constitutes decommissioning.  It would be far better for them to close and decommission now rather than SAFSTOR.”

Entergy is currently before the Vermont Public Service Board seeking a Certificate of Public Good for 20 years of additional operation. Robert “Jake” Stewart of Brookfield, VT, a trustee of NEC since its inception, wants the highly contentious process to play out. “It is good news that they decided to close but the case before the PSB should continue and there will be concerns raised in those proceedings that need to be fully evaluated. Vermont Yankee should shut down now and reduce the damage they are leaving to future generations,” Stewart said. Attorneys representing NEC before the PSB, Brice Simon of Stowe and Jared Margolis of Jericho, VT, agree that the Public Service Board shouldn’t surrender its authority until numerous issues regarding operation until the last quarter of 2014 and operation for the purposes of decommissioning are resolved, “  “NEC’s assertions that Entergy was not economically viable were true and Shadis testified Entergy is not reliable (because of that).  NEC will request they withdraw their application for a CPG.” Margolis added, “ It is good news but the process is not over.  There is more work to be done and there are still decisions the PSB must make to protect the citizens of Vermont.”

Commenting on the content of Entergy’s 8/27/3013 Press Release, Shadis said: “It’s too bad that Entergy could have given, among its reasons for closing, some acknowledgement of the strongly held sentiments of the concerned public, the Legislature, Vermont’s Congressional Delegation and the Governor.  In my opinion, based on the review of hundreds of in-house nuclear industry documents, public acceptance, which Entergy Vermont Yankee was lacking, is essential to the viability of a nuclear operation. Entergy should find just enough humility and candor among its ranks to concede that the resistance of the people of Vermont and the region played a part in its decision to close.”