One Quick Take on NDCAP 12.18.14

Last night’s meeting of the Nuclear Decommissioning Citizen Advisory Panel (NDCAP) was chock full of good news – and bad. First, the good news.

  • Chris Recchia, chair of NDCAP and Commissioner of the VT Dept. of Public Service, said that the state would be “actively opposing” Entergy’s request to the NRC for an exemption.
  • Two Massachusetts towns have taken action on the EPZ. Town officials in Gill and Greenfield are opposing the exemption request. Organize some friends, draft some language, and ask your town officials to sign a similar letter or pass a resolution. The letter submitted by Gill and contact info for Greenfield are in our “Towns take action of the EPZ post here.
  • The state’s Health Department, Agency of Natural Resources, and Public Service Department all submitted strong and thorough comments on Entergy’s Post Shut Down Decommissioning Activities Report (PSDAR). Our fears that the state would not have the time or resources to do so were put to rest. You can download the documents here. 
  • It is clear from the written comments, and intensity of the comments made at the meeting, that the state has woken up to how dangerous it will be as spent fuel is moved from the spent fuel pool into dry cask storage.
  • We were particularly surprised, based on decades of past experience, by the vigor with which Bill Irwin, state radiological health officer, criticized Entergy and the PSDAR. In detail, he noted the lack of radiological monitoring, need for an inventory of materials, and lack of attention to key issues such as fire risk while moving the spent fuel. He questioned what kind of oversight the state will have.
  • Both the state and Windham Regional Commission (WRC) are following changes by the owners of the Texas/VT low level waste facility, and propose that the Compact’s next meeting be held in Windham County, near Vermont Yankee.
  • Windham Regional Commission is  actively collaborating with its counterparts in NH and MA, and they were in attendance at the meeting. The WRC’s involvement over the years has been excellent and we hope MA and NH jump in with equal strength.

Now the bad news.

  • The NRC has set January 28 as the date of the public hearing in Vermont on the PSDAR. The clock starts ticking today on the 90 day public comment period, when Entergy submits the PSDAR to the NRC. Considering the complexity of the subject and volume of information, 90 days is little time, and January 28 is only 6 weeks away.
  • Entergy’s Mike Twomey said “thank you for your comments on the PSDAR” and made sure the Panel and State understood they were in no way obligated to use any of them and were simply acknowledging them out of respect. Out of about 500 comments, it made 42 changes to the PSDAR.
  • After four meetings, NDCAP is still disorganized and has no resources. It needs independent, third party experts to educate the members. It needs an administrative assistant to support communications and logistics; it is a misuse of the state nuclear engineer’s time and paygrade to be doing so. While the state committed to full participate in the NRC review process, without resources we question its effectiveness.
  • Vernon’s elementary school is 1500 feet from the reactor, and Hinsdale’s school is just across the river. The state gets how dangerous this is and some NDCAP members appeared horrified by potential consequences.
    • Steve Skibowski, retired Yankee worker and Town of Vernon rep on NDCAP, said Yankee workers have children in the schools and would not do anything to put them at risk. Vernon has an active emergency response group. and Entergy has been very helpful.
    • Deb Katz of CAN strongly urged action, and recommends that the children go to other schools while the spent fuel moves from the pool into storage.
    • Howard Schaeffer preached the industry gospel about how safe radiation really is, and that the real probelm is fear mongering.
  • Trust is still a huge issue.
    • Bill Irwin quoted an NRC official who said, about radiation, “it’s not about dose, It’s about trust.” One bad day at Vermont Yankee and regardless of dose, the economies of Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts could be ruined.
    • Senator Mark McDonald reminded us of the many times since buying the reactor that Entergy lied and mislead VSNAP (predecessor to NDCAP). He sees nothing different in Entergy’s pattern now. “Entergy has a record of not telling the truth, and they make money every time they lie.”

The next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, January 22 (one week before the NRC Public Hearing on the PSDAR).

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Towns take action on EPZ

A town-by-town effort to speak out against Entergy’s plan to abandon the citizens and environment of the emergency planning zone has begun.

Just over the Vermont border from Yankee,  Gill, MA selectboard have signed a letter opposing Entergy’s exemption requests to the NRC on the EPZ.  Greenfield, MA has taken similar action with a resolution submitted to its Town Council. To support the resolution, or to bring one to your town in MA, contact Sandra Kosterman

Citizens from Gill and Greenfield submitted their towns’ materials to the December 18th meeting of Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel (NDCAP). Chris Recchia, chair of NDCAP and Commissioner of the VT Dept. of Public Service, said that the state would be “actively opposing” Entergy’s request to the NRC for an exemption.

Here is the Gill letter.

Date: December 15, 2014

To: US Senator Edward Markey
US Senator Elizabeth Warren
US Representative James McGovern
State Senator Stanley Rosenberg
State Representative Denise Andrews
State Representative-Elect Susannah Whipps Lee
The Honorable Allison M. Macfarlane, Chairman, Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Commissioner Christopher Recchia, Vermont Department of Public Service
Kurt Schwartz, Director, Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency

Re: Continued Funding for EPZ at Entergy Vermont Yankee Gill is one of 18 towns in Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire to have some or all of the town within a 10 mile radius of the Entergy Vermont Yankee nuclear plant in Vernon, Vermont. This means that we are within the plant’s Emergency Planning Zone (EPZ) – an area that has in-place, maintained, and predetermined protective action plans designed to avoid or reduce potential exposure of radioactive materials. These action plans include sheltering, evacuation, and the use of potassium iodide where appropriate.

Entergy Nuclear, the parent company of Entergy Vermont Yankee, has applied to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for an exemption that will allow it to end funding for the EPZ.

Additionally, Entergy Nuclear has asked the NRC for an exemption that will allow the plant a four-fold increase in the amount of time it has to notify surrounding towns of an emergency. Currently the plant must notify towns within 15 minutes. Entergy Nuclear seeks an exemption to increase this to 60 minutes!

The Gill Selectboard opposes both exemption requests. We ask you, our elected representatives and public officials, to assure that EPZ funding is continued until the spent fuel pool is emptied and all the highly radioactive spent fuel is moved to dry cask storage, and to assure that towns continue to receive the earliest possible notice of emergency situations at the plant.


Randy Crochier, Chair

Gill Selectboard

Cc: Gene Beaubien, Gill Emergency Management Director



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“You Done Good”

An Oped by former VT Governor Tom Salmon has been widely published in recent days. Leslie Sullivan Sachs of Safe & Green quickly scribbled a response when she heard the local weekly paper was also publishing it. We have posted both on our Letters to the Editor page. Salmon’s twisting of history should irritate activists and citizens alike. Here’s Leslie’s response:

There is plenty to criticize in Tom Salmon’s ode to Vermont Yankee, but two paragraphs are particularly odious. He writes, “Eight years ago…I began to notice the heat being turned up on Vermont Yankee. A rather fierce ideological battle from the hard left ensued. Some were Vermonters, but the vast majority lived in other states…However, in Windham County, a hardy band of citizens said, “We want to be heard on these issues.” And so the nonprofit Vermont Energy Partnership was founded to advocate on behalf of public policies that facilitate affordable, safe, reliable, clean power…”

The Vermont Energy Partnership was founded by a “hardy band” of the most powerful corporations, few from Windham County, including IBM, Casella Waste Management, and Pizzagalli Construction, plus business associations like the Vermont Fuel Dealers Association. And, of course, Entergy.

Despite being a former governor, Mr. Salmon conveniently forgets democratic process – unless he believes that our own legislature and towns were infiltrated by the folks living downstream from the reactor. In Town Meeting votes across the state over the years on referenda on the future of Vermont Yankee, 51 towns voted to close Vermont Yankee and only 3 towns voted down the resolution. The Vermont Senate said shut it down in February 2010.

To paraphrase Sen. Randy Brock, a Republican who reluctantly voted against Vermont Yankee, if anti-nuclear activists had infiltrated Entergy’s board of directors, they couldn’t have done more damage to Vermont Yankee’s reputation that Entergy did to itself.

Leslie Sullivan Sachs

Brattleboro, VT


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State Comments on PSDAR Posted

The extensive comments by Vermont’s state agencies on Entergy Post Shut Down Activities Report (PSDAR) have been posted on the state NDCAP website and on Entergy’s decomm website The state comments will also be presented at the NDCAP meeting tonight (6pm, BUHS).

We did not have much time to review them but after a cursory read we believe the Dept. of Public Service did a thorough job. The comments of Tom Buchanan (who presented at our Decomm educational panel in November 2013) compare the PSDAR to prior PSB decisions and conditions. Windham Regional Commission also has comments and there is a document with public comments but we have not had time to review those yet.

Hope to see you tonight!

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Emergency Planning Update

Citizens Awareness Network has a suggestion. Entergy intends to end the emergency planning zone in April 2016 – while tons of radioactive fuel is still in the spent fuel pool, and while those tons are moved into dry cask storage. CAN points out that Entergy needs to receive a Certificate of Public Good from the Public Service Board for the new dry cask storage pad. That Certificate should include a condition requiring the emergency planning zone remain in effect until all the waste is secured in storage.

From CAN’s newsletter:

Entergy announced its plan to end the Emergency Planning Zone (EPZ) when Vermont Yankee closes in 2014. The corporation’s justification for asking NRC to end EPZ planning: with the fuel removed from the reactor, there is no credible accident that could effect the tri-state community.

This is far from true. The danger at Vermont Yankee does not end with closure. It will end or be considerably reduced with the removal of the high level waste from the fuel pool into dry cask storage.

Vermont Yankee is a sister reactor to the Fukushima Mark 1 reactors with its fuel pool suspended 7 stories in the air. The National Academy of Science has acknowledged the Mark 1 reactor fuel pools are the most vulnerable to acts of malice or accident. A fuel pool fire could release millions of radioactive curies into the environment. There are estimates that the plume from a fuel pool fire could travel 90 miles in 24 hours.

 The EPZ is needed to protect our communities.

 Contact the Vermont Public Service Department as well as the Public Service Board to express your concern. Ask them to make it a condition for Entergy to receive a Certificate of Public Good from the Board for the second dry cask storage pad.

 The Vermont Department of Public Service Contact Info:

112 State Street Third Floor • Montpelier, VT • 05620-2601 

General Phone Number: 802-828-2811

Fax: 802-828-2342

Vermont Public Service Board Contact Info:

Vermont Public Service Board
112 State Street
Montpelier, VT 05620-2701

Phone: (802) 828-2358
Fax: (802) 828-3351
TDD (VT Relay): (800) 253-0191


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Tis the Season!

Tis the Season to be Jolly …. Celebrating the Shut Down! VYDA is hosting a “Countdown to the Shutdown” Pot Luck Celebration on Saturday, December 27th at 6pm in Barre, VT. CAN & Safe and Green are throwing a Nuclear Free New Year bash, “VT Yankee Un-Plugged” at 7:30 pm in Greenfield, MA.  (Click the links for details).

As VYDA says, share the joy if you ever ….

  • organized educational events and actions
  • were arrested or supported acts of non-violent civil disobedience
  • joined demonstrations and rallies at the Statehouse, in Vernon, Brattleboro, Montpelier and around the state
  • made banners, bumper stickers, buttons, props and posters
  • leafletted on street corners and farmers markets
  • lobbied legislators
  • went to sit-in at the statehouse
  • testified at NRC, the PSB, VSNAP and other important hearings
  • cycled around the state and the nation to engage the citizens in conversations about VY and nuclear power
  • went door-to-door, made phone calls or stood on a street corner to engage the citizens in conversations about VY and nuclear power
  • wrote letters to editors and legislators and neighbors
  • and SOOOOO much more…
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NDCAP Agenda & Location

The Agenda for Thursday’s NDCAP meeting has been posted, at long last. It will be held in the Multi Purpose Room, Fairgrounds Road, Brattleboro Union High School. 6-9pm. Go to our Event post for details.




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Closing Spin

As Yankee counts the days until closing, the press is taking notice. “Gone Fission?” is the cover story in 7Days, Burlington’s free weekly. Our own Leslie Sullivan Sachs and Gary Sachs were profiled, as were four workers and others from Windham County. The Commons of Windham County is doing a series; the first was on workers, and the second on the Windham Regional Commission.

Pro-nukers continue to get a lot of ink. Bob Leach continues to push “carbon free nuclear power” with statements like this:

… marshalling nuclear power to help prevent an irreversible degradation of the environment would show that the United States is determined to prevent the worst effects of climate change …

This week, former Gov. Tom Salmon has an ode to Yankee called “You Done Good.” Here’s a taste:

Eight years ago…I began to notice the heat being turned up on Vermont Yankee. A rather fierce ideological battle from the hard left ensued. Some were Vermonters, but the vast majority lived in other states. The Vermont press was responding to their siren song.

However, in Windham County, a hardy band of citizens said, “We want to be heard on these issues.” And so the nonprofit Vermont Energy Partnership was founded to advocate on behalf of public policies that facilitate affordable, safe, reliable, clean power…

“a hardy band of citizens”? VT Energy Partnership was founded by two dozen of the most powerful businesses in Vermont – IBM, Casella Waste, Pizagalli Construction — and Entergy, of course. It immediately hired the PR firm, GreenSpirit Strategies founded by spin-master Patrick Moore, to spin re-licensing …. is he back for the closure?

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Good News

In its reports this fall, Entergy estimated that $368 million will be needed for moving spent nuclear fuel into dry cask storage. It confirmed yesterday to the NRC that it will take out a $145 million line of credit to move spent fuel. That is $145M that will not come out of the decommissioning trust fund — good news!

NRC rules prohibit trust funds to be used for spent fuel management, but of course the NRC grants exemptions. Entergy says it will apply for an exemption and use trust funds to cover the remaining $223M needed for spent fuel management.

It sure seems like every NRC rule is made to be broken, as long as the owners ask nicely.

If you are a subscriber you can read Susan Smalheer’s article in today’s Rutland Herald .

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Evacuation Drill a “Success”

Success? With 4,0000-6,000 evacuees expected in real life, “…about 15 “actors” — many of them off-duty Windham County deputy sheriffs — played the role of Vernon and Guilford residents” at an evac center where  they were registered by 14 Red Cross volunteers. How does this even begin to duplicate a real evacuation? Read about it in the Brattleboro Reformer 12.08.14 and Barre Times Argus 12.07.14  


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