Juanita’s Memorial Parade & Service

This Saturday, May 30, activists from around the country will gather in Greenfield to honor Juanita Nelson. Juanita and her husband, Woody Nelson, helped organize the first Freedom Rides in the 1940s and became war tax resisters at that time. They moved to Woolman Hill in Deerfield a few decades ago.

Safe & Green members  Randy Kehler and Bob Bady are organizing the day. Juanita loved music and marches, so we’ll begin at 12:30pm with a New Orleans-style jazz procession from Court Square, Federal & Main Streets, in Greenfield. The Expandable Brass Band will lead the way.

Amandla Chorus, Eventide Singers, and former Sweet Honey in the Rock singer Evelyn Harris will join in. The service will be at the Greenfield Middle School on Federal Street at 2:00pm.

Randy reflects on Juanita’s lively life in the Greenfield Recorder, here:  http://bit.ly/1baQIdK 

Details and a flyer are on our Events calendar here.

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May 28 NDCAP – June 1 NRC – June 4 PSB

UPCOMING … details below

May 28: NDCAP Meeting — PSB & dry cask storage pad on the agenda

June 1: NRC public comment period on EPZ ends

June 4: Public hearing on PSB & dry cask storage pad

June 13-16: March with Pilgrim Downwinders from Plymouth to Boston

NDCAP

May 28: The Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel (NDCAP) will meet on Thursday, May 28 from 6-9pm in the Multi-Purpose Room, Brattleboro Union High School, Fairground Road. It is open to the public — please attend! Let’s show the state that citizens care, let’s do what we can to keep the panel on time, and let’s ask the difficult questions. This is the only public opportunity we have to learn what’s going on prior to a public hearing on the main agenda topic – the new dry cask storage pad – one week later.

Let’s hope this NDCAP meeting includes a designated Time Keeper. The May agenda includes 45 minutes for public comment at the end of the meeting.  Agenda: download NDCAP Agenda 05.28.15

After updates from Entergy and the State on the current status of decommissioning, the main topic of discussion will be the Public Service Board’s Certificate of Public Good process for a new dry cask storage pad at the site (a.k.a. Docket 8300. It is limited to the pad that dry casks will sit on — not the casks themselves or any other decommissioning topic). Entergy, VT Public Service Dept., and VT Agency of Natural Resources will give presentations. Chris Campney of Windham Regional Commission with present on “Stakeholder Interest in the CPG Process.” Here’s press coverage of PSB schedule for Docket 8300  Here is the full Docket 8300 schedule. 

There will be a Public Service Board (PSB) PUBLIC HEARING on JUNE 4th — time and place TBA. The New England Coalition, which has argued before the PSB in countless VT Yankee dockets, hopes to be a party to the proceedings and may be the only citizen group there.

 Entergy has managed to insult, ignore and generally piss off the Public Service Board for a dozen years. We need to take advantage, wiggle our way into any cracks in the corporate armor, find loopholes, and keep the pressure on the State to do the same. Citizen reps on NDCAP can benefit from our experience and knowledge of the PSB process — the 2002 sale to Entergy, the uprate, (first) dry cask pad, and license extension.

 “Hostile Action” Drill?

We sure hope NDCAP updates include Yankee’s first-ever “hostile action drill.” Coincidentally (not?), the potential for a hostile action is one of the reasons the State appealed of NRC’s decision to allow Entergy to eliminate the 10-mile evacuation planning zone.

We don’t know much about what went down, because “Entergy broke with decades of tradition and banned the press from its Joint Information Center, where details of previous multi-state drills were routinely made public.” Marty Cohn blamed the black out on FEMA and the NRC. But they said having the press present was up to Entergy. (Whose cheeks are red?)  Read the story here RH 05.14.15

It took Entergy one year to plan the hostile action evacuation drill. It took FEMA and the NRC two days to proclaim the drill a success.

EPZ Update?

The same day as the NRC gave glowing reviews to the evacuation drill, the State lost its appeal for a hearing on the EPZ. Coincidence? The Atomic Safety & Licensing Board, with 1 member dissenting, said NRC should be able to do whatever it wants because (1) it always has, and (2) there are no rules. Honest. Read the appeal decision  here. [RH 5.19.15] and about the quickie thumbs-up on the hostile action drill here.

The NRC has let owners off the hook for evacuation planning 17 times — every time it was asked for it. Why should we be any different? Well, there are a whole lot of reasons why Vermont Yankee is different — its location in the middle of a village, across from an elementary school, for starters. It’s tiny footprint — 124 acres compared to the average 700-1,200 acres. It is hard to believe that high level radioactive waste that is so hot that it must be kept in cement encased steel canisters will be cool enough in a year to drop the emergency alert system and EPZ.  Yet the NRC and Entergy want us to believe if there is an “event,” radiation will stop at Yankee’s fence line.

Comment to the NRC BY JUNE 1  http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=NRC-2015-0111-0001 or snail mail Mail comments to: Cindy Bladey, Office of Administration, Mail Stop: OWFN-12-H08, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555-0001 Be sure to include: Docket ID NRC-2015-0111

The Keene Sentinel wrote a clear explanation of the issues.

“In its ruling, the licensing board noted: ‘the NRC Staff has determined that permanently shut down reactors face a smaller number of potentially severe accident scenarios.’ A smaller number sure, but any number greater than zero when you’re talking about ‘potentially severe accident scenarios’ strikes us as warranting safety measures for all those potentially affected… As long as high-level radioactive waste remains in Vernon, especially in the spent-fuel pool, the danger is obvious.” Sentinel OpEd is here.

Money Update?

At the last NDCAP meeting, we heard from three state agencies — health, environment, and public service — that there is no state money to support state government oversight of any decommissioning activities. In a Brattleboro Reformer OpEd 05.21.15, the writer calls $5 million “shakedown money.” These are funds the state negotiated in its settlement agreement with Entergy. (Windham County will get separate economic development funds – $2 million a year for 5 years.) We look forward to hearing more about this $5 million.

Nuke News of Note

March for DownindersMarch for Our Children — Join the Downwinders in Massachusetts walking 54 miles from Entergy’s Pilgrim nuke in Plymouth to the Boston State House June 13-16. Join for the full four days or just part of the march. Housing has been set up. For full details, go here: http://www.madownwinders.org/calendar/march-for-our-children/  We’ve been invited to speak at the State House. Safe & Green members will be walking — some for all, some for part, a bunch for the last leg. Email us and let’s make some plans.

Reports of a drone flying over Maine Yankee “turned out to be a pilot from Canada who stopped to get gas and was not aware when leaving the airport that planes are supposed to bank right. The pilot banked left. FAA was advised.”

2004 Yankee Transformer Fire

2004 Yankee Transformer Fire

Entergy’s Indian Point, 30 miles from NYC, had a transformer fire. Like our’s in 2004, a silver lining is that it drew attention to the bad condition of the reactor, and in IP’s case, the crazy plan to build a gas pipeline next door. Read about it on Ecowatch. We first heard about the pipeline plan from whistle blower Paul Blanch at a New England Coalition meeting in Brattleboro in 2008 or 2009. FYI: IP’s NRC license for Unit 2 expired two years ago, but the NRC is letting it chug along anyway. Unit 3’s license will expire at the end of 2015.

 Solidarity

Speaking of pipelines, Rising Tide Vermont is organizing a Rally & All Night Vigil to Stop the Fracked Gas Pipeline starting on Monday, June 22, 4 pm at the Public Service Board, 112 State St., Montpelier, VT. “Defend communities from Alberta to Vermont and make sure hard-working ratepayers aren’t forced to fund this dangerous fracked gas pipeline.” Contact Rising Tide: risingtidevermont@gmail.com or email Safe & Green about car pooling. FYI: if you don’t have time but have a few extra dollars, Just Power is looking for help paying for legal assistance at the Public Service Board technical hearing for Jane and Nate Palmer and other landowners faced with eminent domain actions by VtGas/GazMetro. Watch their video, give $ here.

Leslie Sullivan Sachs
Safe and Green Campaign

www.safeandgreencampaign.org/

 

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May 28: ISFSI & NDCAP

The Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel will meet on Thursday, May 28 from 6-9pm in the Multi-Purpose Room, Brattleboro Union High School, Fairgrounds Road, Brattleboro. It is open to the public — please attend! The State of Vermont is representing our interests and share many of our goals. But the only way the state will continue to put the pressure on is if they think citizens care.

At the March meeting, citizen comment was very limited because speakers ran over their times. Let’s hope future meetings include a designated Time Keeper! The good news for May is that the agenda includes 45 minutes for public comment at the end of the meeting.

Agenda: download NDCAP Agenda 05.28.15   After updates from Entergy and the State on the current status of decommissioning, the main topic of discussion will be the Public Service Board’s Certificate of Public Good process for a new dry cask storage pad at the site. Entergy, VT Public Service Dept., and VT Agency of Natural Resources will give presentations. Chris Campney of Windham Regional Commission with present on “Stakeholder Interest in the CPG Process.”

Why is this important? This CPG is limited to approving the pad that dry casks will sit on — not the casks themselves or any other decommissioning topic. But it is important. The Public Service Board is the one place where Vermont has a chance to be heard.

Entergy has managed to insult, ignore and generally piss off the Public Service Board for a dozen years. We need to take advantage, wiggle our way into any cracks in the corporate armor, find loopholes, and keep the pressure on the State to do the same.

The decommissioning deck is stacked to favor the corporate owner, Entergy. The NRC has a hands-off attitude: it does not approve decommissioning plans. The NRC does not even have rules specific to decommissioning. There is no role in decommissioning for state or local input.

 

By the way, the technical term for a “pad” is Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation,” or ISFSI. Say that three times fast. Former NRC Chair Alison McFarland had advice for the new NRC Chair: get rid of the acronyms. She also warned that the NRC is not prepared for decommissioning. it was too busy ramping up for the nuclear renaissance that never came.

 

 

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May Update

There are a full slate of events on decommissioning issues scheduled for May and June.

May 13 6-8:30pm: Let’s Talk, Let’s Do: Community Decommissioning Meeting sponsored by New England Coalition on Nuclear Pollution (NEC). Wednesday, May 13, 2015 from 6pm to 8:30pm. This meeting will be at the Brattleboro Food Coop Community Room, which is accessible through #7 Canal Street, Brattleboro.  This meeting is open to all.  A continued dialog from the April 8 meeting is scheduled with individuals from all viewpoints on what the community can do to expedite Entergy Vermont Yankee decommissioning to standards most protective of people and the environment. NEC will also share a brief update on our attendance at the status conference last week in Montpelier before the Public Service Board regarding Docket 8300 (Entergy’s application for certificate of public good for the 2nd dry cask storage pad, in lay terms).  Note to date we are the only public interest group to apply for party status. For additional information, contact Clay Turnbull @ 802-257-0336 or necnp@necnp.org.

Evacuation Planning Zone

June 1: NRC Deadline for comments on NRC’s finding that there are no environmental impacts from Entergy’s request to eliminate the evacuation planning zone. http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-04-30/html/2015-10126.htm

The State of Vermont wants the EPZ to be maintained until 2020, and said Entergy had not “done adequate analysis about the potential for ‘hostile action’ on the now-closed plant, a plane crashing into the spent fuel pool in the reactor building, and other potential scenarios, including a fuel handling mishap.” RH 04.09.15 State Fights to Continue EPZ. This week, according to MassLive on-line, “The state of Vermont is weighing its options in responding to a request by Entergy Nuclear to eliminate the ten-mile evacuation zone around the decommissioned Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant.” MassLive.com/05.05.15.Vermont Opposes Requests. For Entergy’s point of view, an article by Bob Audette of the Brattleboro Reformer was posted in VtDigger 04.28.15 NRC Says No Significant Env. Impacts in Reducing EPZ.

On April 12th, MA Rep. Paul Marks sponsored a decommissioning forum in Greenfield. 50 citizens attended. Much of the public comments and questionswere  focused on the EPZ http://www.recorder.com/home/16514413-95/residents-air-concerns-on-vt-yankee-planning

DRY CASK STORAGE

Vermont’s Public Service Board (PSB) will decide whether or not to grant Entergy a permit to build a new storage pad at Vermont Yankee. A site visit and public hearing will be held June 4th (time and location to be set). Note that this is Docket 8300; here is the PSB Pad schedule for the next year. Over the next year, the PSB will hear from Entergy, the State of Vermont, the New England Coalition on Nuclear Pollution and others as to the merits of Entergy’s application. The Brattleboro Reformer has an article here.

There is already one storage pad on the Vermont Yankee site, which was approved with conditions by the PSB in 2008. There are 8 casks currently on that pad. This is an application to build a second pad. The technical term for a pad is ISFSI (Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation). We use the term “high level radioactive waste” — rather than the industry’s term “spent fuel.” People use the word “spent” when they feel exhausted, that they have no energy left. But this is highly radioactive material that can still do a lot of damage. Otherwise, why spend hundreds of millions of dollars to store the stuff? Plus, there is a lot of it: 2,996 fuel rods, over 900 tons. Nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen says this is “the equivalent of radiation from 700 atomic bombs.”

By 2020, Entergy is committed to move it all from the fuel pool above the reactor into dry casks located on the first and second pads. It will sit there until the industry or the federal government come up with a solution as to what to do with the radioactive waste currently sitting on-site of 104 nuclear reactors in the US.

OpEd on Oyster Creek decommissioning: This is an excellent op-ed about a New Jersey nuclear reactor due to close in a few years. Details aside, the entire thing could be about Yankee (like Yankee it is a Fukushima twin). 5 bullet points at the end suggest actions the state could take which we should consider, including “an aggressive independent advocate should be hired full time to protect” the states’ and citizens’ interests. But one thing we have learned, which New Jersey has not, is that all the money is in the hands of the owner of the reactor. There is no decommissioning trust fund money for the state – or in our case, states – for environmental and other state oversight, to pick up the cost of emergency planning, or to advocate for our needs.

Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds Energy testified about Vermont Yankee decommissioning before the Vermont Senate’s Natural Resources and Energy Committee on April 22. You can watch the video and read his report here. One of his points is about the EPZ. If Entegy and the NRC say that radiation will not leave the site and the surrounding towns are safe, then Entergy should give up the liability protection it gets from the Price-Anderson Act, which limits the amount of money a reactor owner has to pay if there is an accident. Senator Bernie Sanders agrees: [great photo]. He offered this suggestion to Republicans who say there is too much regulation of the nuclear industry:

“I wonder if any of my conservative friends would co-sponsor with me legislation to repeal Price Anderson so that we can leave the nuclear power industry alone and not get involved with government,” Sanders said. “I look forward to working with Senator [David] Vitter [R-La.] or Senator Inhofe on getting the government out of the nuclear power industry. Any volunteers at this point?”

Speaking of Bernie, in the GOOD NEWS column this month:

Finally, a presidential candidate who opposes nuclear power, Sen. Bernie Sanders of VT! Here’s a video clip of Bernie speaking at the “Defend Democracy: Shut Down VT Yankee” Rally in April 2012. He is on the US Senate Env & Public Works Committee, which oversees the NRC, where he has reminded the NRC Commissioners that they work for citizens, not the industry. He hosted a Town Meeting to a packed house at the Latchis when Yankee was up for sale which brought our issues to the NY Times. This April, he co-sponsored three bills on EPZs, state participation in decommissioning, and dry cask storage. Safe & Green members have met with his energy staff and found them to be on top of current issues in Vermont and nationally. (For a brief description of the bills, go to Green Mtn Daily here.

And more good news: * Tesla’s new $3,500 battery could be “the final nail in the coffin of nuclear power.” http://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffmcmahon/2015/05/01/did-tesla-just-kill-nuclear-power

If you enjoy fantasy rather than reality TV, watch “SAFSTOR Matters” on YouTube or BCTV. Marty Cohn, communications shill for Vermont Yankee, hosted this first in a series touting the glories of “Safe-Store.” The next in the series will be on the changes in emergency response.

 

 

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April Update

Well, that was a wicked winter. Now that Spring has reached our valleys and hills, let’s get together soon. Join us on Monday April 6, with Kevin Kamps, “Safeguarding Radioactive Waste at VT Yankee.” 7pm, Centre Congregational Church, in the Parlor. 193 Main Street, Brattleboro, VT.  Ample time for Q&A and discussion on one of the most important issues facing us: what to do with the high-level nuclear waste sitting on the banks of the Connecticut River. As the Nuclear Waste Watchdog for Beyond Nuclear, Kevin is one of the nation’s experts and has traveled the country educating local communities and their elected officials at all levels of government. Read more about him on our website here.

April 14, 6:30pm, Informational Forum with a presentation by Entergy reps on decomm process and end of the EPZ. Greenfield Community College Downtown Center, 270 Main St., Greenfield, MA. Scheduled by MA Rep Paul Mark (D-Peru), who said, “It’s really for people of the region to have their say and to have a more interactive forum with Entergy. Even at the panel meetings we have, a lot of time is spent on presentation and not public discussion. I really want Massachusetts to have a chance to get a little more information and have more of a say.” The Greenfield Recorder has an article here.

IN THE NEWS

Support for nuclear power is at 51%, its lowest level since 2001, an 11 point drop since 2010. Even “70% of Republicans for solar and 63% for wind” http://safeenergy.org/2015/03/30/comparing-the-opinion-polls/

The NRC ruled against citizens again this week. For three years, citizen groups have been asking the NRC to take a close look at Entergy’s weak finances, which have been widely reported, to determine if the company can maintain its leaky old reactors in the Northeast properly, and decommission Yankee. Predictably, NRC trusts Entergy’s financial reporting and said that there’s nothing to worry about. http://vtdigger.org/2015/04/01/nrc-largely-rules-against-anti-nuclear-groups-on-entergy-funding/

On the other hand … in a phone conference a few days earlier, the NRC “at first glance” thinks Entergy plans to use of the decommissioning funds improperly for things such as “using the $660 million fund for Yankee’s property taxes, Entergy Nuclear’s membership dues in the Nuclear Energy Institute, insurance, security staffing costs and shipping nonradioactive asbestos waste.” The NRC will investigate 5 other recently closed nukes as well to make sure they’re following trust fund rules. http://www.rutlandherald.com/article/20150325/NEWS02/703259939

Vermont Yankee will hold an “Emergency Plan Full Participation Exercise Scenario” on Wednesday, May 13. Details of the drill are confidential; the NRC defines one as “appropriate offsite local and State authorities and licensee personnel physically and actively take part in testing their integrated capability to adequately assess and respond to an accident at a commercial nuclear power plant.” We wonder: will it be the last drill before Entergy quits the emergency plan?

Speaking of security: Entergy made a stink about two recent trespassing incidents at Yankee. There is no longer any security at the gate, and it looks like folks just kind of wandered onto the site. One took a stroll through the dry casks and the other took photos out her car window.

Public comments on Entergy’s decommissioning plan (the PSDAR) have come to a close. But only 2 of the 41 public comments submitted to the NRC via its on-line comment page are available for the public to read. You can download a bunch from our website. CLICK HERE FOR: PSDAR Comments to the NRC including State of Vermont, area legislators, Town of Brattleboro, Fairewinds Energy Education, Shut It Down affinity group, yours truly and others.

Fairewinds has released a report, Vermont Yankee’s Decommissioning As An Example of Nationwide Failures of Decommissioning Regulation. It outlines changes that need to take place in the NRC’s approach to decommissioning, with an eye to the wave of reactor closures that are to come.

Entergy’s Southeast region was in the news this week. In Mississippi, Entergy will now benefit from ” pure corporate socialism.” Passed without one dissenting vote, and masked as economic development, the new law will allow Entergy ratepayers to pay for “speculative buildouts of infrastructure, whether or not the industry or business to be served becomes a reality and buys electricity from the utility.” Entergy “can go build a shoe factory and put the cost of building a shoe factory in the rate base and never give an electric power customer a pair of shoes,” [one critic] Blanton said. “It’s the most un-American bill I can imagine.”  http://news360.com/article/284895381#

EVENTS IN SOLIDARITY

April 1-12 Pipeline Pilgrimage — on the proposed route of the Kinder-Morgan pipeline, 143 miles from Pittsfield, MA to Dracut, MA. Led by the New England Young Adult Friends (Quaker) Climate Worker Group. Most nights at 6:30pm: Pipeline Pilgrimage Community Pot Lucks. Sunday April 5 at 5:00pm: Passover Seder potluck, All Souls Unitarian Church, Greenfield, MA.

April 7 – Stand Up for Solar! Lobby Day at the MA State House. 10am-2pm. Sign up at http://tinyurl.com/StandUpForSolar MA legislation on nuclear as green – or not. One House bill, “An Act to Repower Massachusetts,” includes nuclear as “clean” power. Another states that nuclear is not a renewable energy source, and two others expand the EPZ. Learn more on our website, then contact your legislators and let them know your thoughts. www.safeandgreencampaign.org/action-center

April 15 Book Signing with Frances Crowe, “Finding My Radical Soul,” Solar Store of Greenfield, 2 Fiske Ave., Greenfield MA 6-7:30pm Claire@solarstoreofgreenfield.com

May 10 Cape Downwinders “We’re Mad as Hell Mother’s Day Rumble” 11am-2pm, St. Catherine’s Chapel Park, Plymouth, MA. to close Entergy’s Pilgrim reactor. If you would like to be part of the rumble program at the park-music, song, poetry, personal reflection, or other, please contact Susan at scarpenter1103@gmail.com. If you would like to be part of the Grandmother’s Affinity Group to plan a creative action, please contact Sarah at (508)385-2316 or Elaine at edickinson1149@gmail.com before April 25th.

We hope to see you all this Monday to join us in discussing nuclear waste with Kevin Kamps. We’ll close with his words after our January VY UnPlugged party:

I can point out to people that shutting down Vermont Yankee was a miracle, right? We weren’t, as the people, supposed to have that power. And people did it anyway. They insisted on it and they saw it through and made it happen. And so the same kind of courage and vision will have to be applied now to the decommissioning process. People have to stay in there, attend all the meetings, read all the documents. It’s a Herculean task and if anybody can do it, it’s the folks who have already forced the shutdown of Vermont Yankee. [Nuclear Free Future Yankee Post-Mortem 01.06.15]

Peace,

Leslie Sullivan Sachs

for the Safe and Green Campaign

 

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NRC Investigating Use of Decomm Funds

According to today’s Rutland Herald, the NRC questions Entergy’s use of the decommissioning funds, such as “using the $660 million fund for Yankee’s property taxes, Entergy Nuclear’s membership dues in the Nuclear Energy Institute, insurance, security staffing costs and shipping nonradioactive asbestos waste.” The NRC will investigate 5 other recently closed nukes as well to make sure they’re following the rules.

Thank you, State of Vermont, for pressing the NRC on this issue.

http://www.rutlandherald.com/article/20150325/NEWS02/703259939

 

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NRC: Public Comments Not Public

The comment period to the NRC on the PSDAR ended at midnight last night (March 24, 2015). A link to the Comment page is:  http://www.regulations.gov/index.jsp#!docketDetail;D=NRC-2015-0004

Only 2 of the 41 public comments submitted to the NRC are available on the Comments webpage. Have you run up against withholding public comments by the NRC before? Can you help us advocate for an open and transparent process?

A side bar on the Comment page explains:

Note: Agencies review all submissions, however some agencies may choose to redact, or withhold, certain submissions (or portions thereof) such as those containing private or proprietary information, inappropriate language, or duplicate/near duplicate examples of a mass-mail campaign. This can result in discrepancies between this count and those displayed when conducting searches on the Public Submission document type. For specific information about an agency’s public submission policy, refer to its website or the Federal Register document.

FYI: Safe & Green did not provide language for others to use. We did not engage in a mass-mail campaign. We could have gone that route, and we don’t know of anyone who did. (We held and attended public meetings, gave people information here on this website, and encouraged people to write their own public comments. We provided links to publicly available comments submitted by the State, local legislators, and Town of Brattleboro.)

 

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Two Yankee Clean Up Funds Explained

Susan Smallheer of the Rutland Herald published as clear an explanation of the decommissioning trust fund and the site restoration fund as we can expect, give the murky PR put out by Entergy. Worthy reading for those who follow the money.

http://www.rutlandherald.com/article/20150321/NEWS02/703219919

Entergy draws $12M from trust fund
By Susan Smallheer
Staff Writer | March 21,2015

Entergy Nuclear took $12 million out of Vermont Yankee’s decommissioning trust fund last month to pay for its ongoing planning for the future cleanup and dismantling of the nuclear plant.

Last week Entergy filed notice it will take out another $6.5 million.

Despite the withdrawals, the trust fund remained at $665 million at the end of February, a slight increase of $400,000 over January’s total of $644.7 million.

Entergy has estimated the cost of radiological cleanup of the site at $1.2 billion. About half that amount is already in the decommissioning trust fund.

Martin Cohn, spokesman for Entergy, said Friday growth in the fund covered the withdrawal of funds, which are overseen by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

“I think you have to thank the stock market,” said Cohn.

Entergy gave notice Dec. 30, 2014, that it was seeking an $18 million disbursement from the fund, but took out less than that.

And last week, Entergy gave another 30-day notice that it planned to take out another $6.5 million. Cohn said all the money so far has gone into planning the decommissioning.

Cohn also said that in the first year of the Vermont Yankee site restoration fund, which was started last April with a $10 million contribution from Entergy, the fund has grown more than 10 percent. That fund now stands at $11,126,072.

Cohn said Entergy would make another $10 million contribution to the site restoration fund — which is different than the decommissioning trust fund — later this year. Another $5 million is expected from Entergy for a total contribution of $25 million.

He said the two funds have different investment managers. The decommissioning trust fund is managed by the Mellon Bank, and is invested “conservatively” in stocks and bonds. Cohn said he believed the site restoration fund is also handled by the Mellon Bank.

The site restoration fund will be used after the decommissioning and radiological cleanup of the Vermont Yankee site is completed; it will fund the so-called “green field” restoration. Estimates for restoring the 142-acre site range from $50 million (Entergy’s estimate) to $200 million (the figure used by the Windham Regional Commission.)

Entergy had originally said it wanted to take out $143 million to pay for the transfer of the high-level radioactive fuel into dry cask storage. But it has since changed tactics and taken out a line of credit worth that amount.

But Entergy has said it wants to use $225 million after 2020 toward handling spent fuel, a move the state of Vermont says it opposes.

Entergy Nuclear inherited the decommissioning trust fund in 2002 when it bought Vermont Yankee; it has never made any contribution to the fund. The fund has doubled in the 13 years Entergy has owned the plant.

Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds Associates, a nuclear engineer and safety advocate who is currently working on a report for the Lintalhac Foundation about the Yankee decommissioning fund, said the fund goes up and down.

“There have been $15 million swings in the past, this one happened to go up, but just as often they go down,” said Gundersen.

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Yikes! MORE Seabrook power in VT?

Do you want more electricity from nuclear power in Vermont? We were all mighty disappointed when Green Mountain Power (GMP) turned to Seabrook after Entergy mucked up its power purchase negotiations. The current deal provides 60 MW until 2034.  Now GMP says 150 MW more is needed to “meet a portion of a large expected power supply gap.” GMP is (very quietly) asking the Public Service Board for a Certificate of Public Good.

Statewide hearings will be held Monday March 23 at 7:00pm via satellite TV. A link to GMP’s petition and the list of public hearing sites is here — they include Room 125 at Brattleboro Union High School; VT Dept. of Labor (5 Green Mountain Drive) in Montpelier;  and at CCV (145 Billings Farm Road) in White River Junction.

GMP lists as benefits price stability and “relatively reliable baseload energy that produces no direct air emissions.”  It also claims because the price is “lower than other sources of capacity available in the market today and lower than newly constructed generating capacity, it meaningfully reduces the exposure of GMP customers to volatile electricity market prices, and it is consistent with the 2011 Comprehensive Energy Plan’s least cost planning requirements. ”

GMP currently gets 10% of its power from Seabrook and Millstone 3. (It owns a 1.7% share in Millstone, a nuke in Connecticut, from which it gets 21.5MW). There was no plan to buy more nuclear in GMP’s. 2014 Innovative Resource Management Plan.  From Supply of Energy, p 3-27:

GMP does not rule out purchasing energy from nuclear plants in the future. However, no new nuclear development is taking place in New England, and hydroelectricity can provide the same low emissions and price stability that nuclear sources are well-suited to provide, while also increasing GMP’s reliance on renewable energy. For these reasons, nuclear is not modeled as a potential resource in the Resource Plan chapter.

What changed? Here’s some speculation on my part:

GazMetro of Montreal owns GMP . GazMetro owns Vermont Gas. Vermont Gas is in deep trouble. International Paper withdrew from Phase 2 of a proposed gas pipeline that would have fueled the giant paper mill by piping gas under Lake Champlain. Vermont Gas then cancelled Phase 2, and Phase 1 is therefore a huge financial mess.

GMP’s home page claims it  “is a local electricity utility in the state of Vermont focused on providing its customers with a balance of the most reliable, affordable, smart, and clean electricity, in an effort to be the best small utility in America.”  But the truth is that like VT Yankee, it is owned by a huge corporation who’s only concern for Vermont is its own bottom line.

Leslie Sullivan Sachs

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Putting the Brakes on Entergy

Vermont has been getting the bum’s rush from Entergy since the August 2013 announcement that Vermont Yankee would shut down. On March 5, the State said “Enough!” and demanded that the NRC put on the brakes. [Reformer 03.06.15] [VtDigger 03.08.15]

You can download the full State’s Comments from our PSDAR Comments page.) We provide a list of the State’s issues at the end of this post.

Vermont wants the NRC to force merchant reactor owners to take host state’s agreements and state laws seriously. Other states are watching Vermont closely.

By NRC rules, Entergy had two years after the reactor closed to submit its Post Shut-Down Activities Report (PSDAR), the decommissioning plan. Entergy turned it’s PSDAR over to the NRC one week before the plant shut down. If there is any doubt that Entergy does not listen to the State or citizens, it handed the PSDAR to the NRC December 19, one day after the Citizens Advisory Panel (NDCAP) met and commented on the plan. This exact move – releasing information the day after a public meeting – is wearily familiar to those who have suffered through decades of Entergy manipulation.

To add insult to injury, each page of the PSDAR is date stamped December 2 – well before State comments were submitted December 13 and before the NDCAP meeting December 18. Entergy did not take NDCAP, State or public comments into account.

Perhaps the last straw for the State is how Entergy treated the State’s comments on the draft PSDAR. 190 comments by three state agencies were submitted to Entergy December 13. Entergy responded February 28 – weeks after the PSDAR was in the hands of the NRC, weeks after the NRC public meeting on the PSDAR, but — again — the day after an NDCAP meeting. Joe Lynch, an Entergy VP, gave an update to the panel on decommissioning (closing with the usual slide about openness and transparency) without a word about Entergy’s reply to the state’s comments. The next day, over Mr. Lynch’s signature, Entergy sent the State its reply.

I’ve read Entergy’s reply to the state’s comments. It is a line-by-line brush off without substance; a less kind critic would call the reply a slap in the State’s face.

So this last Friday, the State turned to the NRC, demanding that Entergy take the State’s comments seriously. The State’s letter to the NRC is 76 pages. 10 pages of actions it wants the NRC to take or have the NRC require Entergy to take is included, starting with a formal adjudicatory NRC hearing on whether Entergy should be allowed to proceed with its decommissioning plans. It wants Entergy to show, in the PSDAR, how it will comply with State environmental and health regulations, the Settlement Agreement (2014), and the Master Trust Agreement (2002) on the decommissioning trust fund. It wants the NRC to make Entergy revise the PSDAR to include thorough “site characterization” so there is some fact-based connection between the Entergy plans, how much it will cost to clean it up, and what is currently in the water, land and air. It wants an environmental impact statement and analysis of what would happen in case of terrorism, and/or zirconium fire without the Emergency Planning Zone in place. It asks the NRC to deny Entergy use of the decommissioning trust fund money for non-decommissioning purposes such as guarding the spent nuclear fuel.

The State refers to recent public remarks made by an Entergy VP (Michael Twomey): if Entergy runs out of decommissioning funds, “there would be litigation between the state and the company as to how to pay for it.” If that occurs, writes the State,

“… everyone is going to look back at the decisions the NRC makes (or fails to make) over the next few months and wonder that went wrong. And if such lawsuits fail, or succeed in a pyrrhic way because even the parent company is insolvent at that point, the State of Vermont could be left with a radiologically contaminated site and spent nuclear fuel within its borders. The State asks the NRC to do everything within its power to ensure that this does not occur.” (page 8)

Entergy’s response? “By the state taking its actions and causing us to litigate, you know to defend the litigation, that is a decommissioning expense,” said Marty Cohn, their current PR guy, thus delaying clean-up.

“The fact that Vermont would like to see decommissioning done in an environmentally sensitive way and to be done expeditiously, it’s not like Vermonters are crazy. Its fundamental good sense,” said Attorney General Bill Sorrell.

List of requests by State to NRC (selected issues drawn from State’s 1o page summary):

  1. NRC hold an adjudicatory hearing on whether or not Entergy can proceed with decommissioning;
  2. “force” Entergy to time before PSDAR deadline of Dec 2016 to do site characterization so cost estimates more accurate, including for Spent Fuel Management;
  3. require detailed response from Entergy to all State comments;
  4. require for contingencies that may not be found until end of SAFSTOR;
  5. not allow assumption of spent fuel removal by 2052;
  6. not allow Decommissioning Trust Fund (DTF) to be used for Spent Fuel Management; prohibit withdrawal of DTF for a list of things, and explain how it will pay for them;
  7. NRC should protect DTF;
  8. require NEPA analysis of environmental & economic impacts;
  9. require groundwater monitoring, radiological monitoring of pathways to public etc.;
  10. revise analysis to maintain EPZ, fire protection, hostile action, and NEPA analysis of EPZ;
  11. require Entergy to explain inconsistencies between SAS and PSDAR;
  12. require PSDAR to detail how it will comply with State laws;
  13. require more detailed plan and timeline.

Leslie Sullivan Sachs

 

 

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