PUC Approves Sale of VY to NorthStar

To the surprise of no one, Vermont’s Public Utility Commission has approved the sale of Vermont Yankee from Entergy to NorthStar.

VtDigger has a post here (by Mike Faher, updated on 12/7) and here is the Brattleboro Reformer’s article (by Susan Smalheer). No other in-state media that we have seen has covered the sale with any level of detail.

The PUC’s Order and Certificate of Public Good are too large for our website to handle. You can access them from the PUC’s website.  You will need to log on (or create a user name and password to do so). The link is: http://epuc.vermont.gov/?q=node/64/27332/FV-BDIssued-PTL

 

 

 

 

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Heads up! This coming week on the Vermont Yankee front:

1) New England Coalition’s annual meeting is Saturday, December 1 at Brattleboro Savings & Loan, 221 Main St, in the community room beginning at 1:30pm. Enter at the back of the bank. Ray Shadis will speak on the topic: “Carry It On: The Greening of Vermont Yankee and the Near-Term Future of Nuclear-related Advocacy in New England.” Details here on the NEC website.

2) The next Nuclear Decommissioning Citizen Advisory Panel (NDCAP) will be held on Thursday, December 6th from 6:00 to 7:45 pm in the Maria Lawrence Room at the Vermont Agricultural Business Education Center (VABEC), 11 University Way, Brattleboro. The agenda is here on the NDCAP webpage. This will be the first meeting under NDCAP’s new chair Chris Campany.

3) According to VtDigger, the Public Utilities Commission will decide on the sale of Vermont Yankee from Entergy to NorthStar sometime this coming week. The article is here.

 

 

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Robbie Leppzer’s film, Power Struggle, on VT PBS

POWER STRUGGLE:  A feature-length documentary about the grassroots citizen’s battle to shut down a nuclear power plant in Vermont.

A Film By Robbie Leppzer, In association with NHK-Japan. 86 minutes

Watch it on Vermont PBS:

• Thursday, November 1 at 7pm on Vermont PBS

• Sunday, November 4 at 2pm on Vermont PBS

• Monday, November 5 at 9pm on Vermont PBS Plus

• Friday, November 9 at 8pm on Vermont PBS Plus

• Tuesday, November 13 at 9pm on Vermont PBS Plus

• Friday, November 30 at 9pm on Vermont PBS Plus

Additional airdates of POWER STRUGGLE on Vermont PBS will be added to this page throughout the coming year.

For more information and to watch a film trailer: www.PowerStruggleMovie.com.

Like our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/power.struggle.film/

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2018 Nuclear Waste Tour

Environmental Justice & Nuclear Waste the road from New England to Texas and New Mexico

CAN is organizing a High-level Nuclear Waste (HLNW) Tour in New England to address the abdication by the federal government and the nuclear industry to deal with HLNW stranded at nuclear sites throughout the country. We have a ‘mock’ high-level nuclear waste cask and are taking it on the road to show people what an estimated 1,000 shipments through New England could look like.

The tour will bring speakers from across the country to discuss the issues of nuclear waste, federal policy, environmental justice and direct action.

Speakers include Kerstin Rudek from Peoples Initiative Bürgerintiative Umweltschutz Lüchow‑Dannenberg (Germany), organizer of the successful opposition to nuclear waste transport to Gorleben; Tim Judson, executive director of Nuclear Information and Resource Service: Leona Morgan from the Navajo Nation; and CAN’s Chris Williams and Deb Katz who will address the issues of NorthStar’s decommissioning goals including sending HLNW from Vermont Yankee to Texas. The Tour will focus on the industry’s attempt to create centralized interim storage (CIS) for HLNW in Andrews County, Texas as well as a second site in Hobbs, NM. Recently, legislation passed the House that would support this controversial approach and fund it. It’s important for people to know where their legislator stands on this industry driven nuclear waste and environmental justice issue. Additionally, and Diane Turco will address Pilgrim and Seabrook reactors at the Massachusetts State House and Pine DuBois will speak in Plymouth.  

Speakers will address the need to create a permanent solution for this toxic waste and how it will impact vulnerable communities. What is needed is a scientifically sound and environmentally just solution. Until sound science & environmental justice drive any disposition, HLNW must remain onsite. But is onsite storage safe? It’s certainly safer in dry cask storage than in vulnerable fuel pools described by the National Governors Association as “pre-deployed weapons of mass destruction”. To lessen the vulnerability of dry cask storage to acts of malice or accidents, the casks should be hardened, double-walled, increased separation between casks & earth-bermed to limit exposure. All of this is possible, but the industry and NRC refuse to acknowledge the problem or do anything about it. The nuclear industry is failing! Reactors are closing throughout the country. Interim storage is the industry’s attempt to resurrect itself—to claim that nuclear power is a “clean” technology.

Tour Events:

  •  September 18, Tuesday, 6:00 PM, Unitarian Universalist Church, 130 Main Street, Montpelier, VT.
  • September 19, Wednesday, 6:00 PM, Centre Congregational Church, 193 Main Street, Brattleboro, VT.
  • September 20, Thursday, 7:00 PM, Hawks and Reed, 289 Main Street, Greenfield, MA, NUCLEAR BLUES withThe Wildcat O’Halloran Band, “Downtown” Bob Stannard & Court Dorsey as “Will Nukem”, and speakers.
  • September 21, Friday, 1:00- 3:00 PM, MA State House, 24 Beacon Street, Rm 222, Boston, MA, speakers, music and press.
  • September 22, Saturday, 1:00 PM, Unitarian Universalist Church (First Parish), 19 Town Square, Plymouth, MA.

Speaker Bios

  • Leona Morgan Navajo Nation, an indigenous community organizer and activist who has been fighting “nuclear colonialism” since 2007. She is focused on preventing new uranium mining, nuclear waste dumping, and transport of radioactive materials in the Southwest. She co-founded and works with Haul No! (www.haulno.org), Radiation Monitoring Project(www.radmonitoring.org), and Nuclear Issues Study Group (www.facebook.com/NuclearIssuesStudyGroup). Leonais Diné from the Navajo Nation and lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico and will address the environmental justice issues inherent in the nuclear industry ‘s targeting of low income, people of color and Native American communities for nuclear waste disposal. She will address the industry’s plan to dispose of New England’s HLNW waste in a Centralized Interim Storage sites in Andrews County, Texas and Hobbs, New Mexico.
  • Kerstin Rudek was head of the Bürgerinitiative Umweltschutz Lüchow‑Dannenberg (www.bi-luechow-dannenberg.de) which organized the protests against nuclear waste transports in Germany. More than 50,000 people joined the protests. She is leading the ministry of foreign affairs of the BI and is organizing internationally in the Don’t Nuke the Climate campaign (www.dont-nuke-the-climate.org). DNTC works to protect the world from more Fukushimas and Chernobyls and insists on no climate money for nuclear power.
  • Deb Katz, executive director of Citizens Awareness Network, (http://www.nukebusters.org) which was instrumental in the closure of four New England reactors, won a lawsuit against NRC’s Decommissioning rule, organized Waste Tours and Action Camps, will address the issues of decommissioning, hardened onsite storage at nuclear reactors and opposition to interim storage of nuclear waste.
  • Tim Judson, executive director of Nuclear Information and Resource Service (www.nirs.org), a national environmental organization . He has led campaigns on reactors in NY & MA, worked with whistleblowers, and represented organizations pro se in NRC licensing cases. Tim is also President of the Board of Citizens Awareness Network, and a co-founder of Alliance for a Green Economy (AGREE, www.allianceforagreeneconomy.org) . He also has a background in the labor movement, as a member, organizer, and research analyst.
  • Diane Turco, Cape Downwinders (www.capedownwinders.info) advocate for the immediate closure of Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant.
  • Pine DuBois, environmental advocate, executive director Jones River Watershed Association (jonesriver.org/jrwa)
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9/19 Env. Justice & Nuclear Waste Tour in Brattleboro

Environmental Justice and Nuclear Waste:
The Road from New England to Texas

When: September 18 – 22, 2018.
Where: Burlington, Montpelier, Brattleboro, Greenfield, and Boston (exact schedule to follow). Brattleboro: Wednesday, September 19th 6pm at the Centre Congregational Church (Parlor Room), 193 Main Street, Brattleboro. Co-sponsored by Safe & Green Campaign. 
What: 
CAN is organizing a high level nuclear waste (HLNW) tour in New England  this fall to address the abdication by the federal government and the nuclear industry to deal with HLNW stranded at nuclear sites throughout  our region and the country. We are rehabbing our mock high level nuclear waste cask and taking it on the road to show people what a 1,000 shipments through New England could look like.

CAN’s tour will bring speakers from across the country and Europe to discuss the issues of nuclear waste, present federal policy, environmental justice and direct action.

Speakers will include

Kerstin Rudek
Kerstin Rudek was born in the wild years of ’68. She is originally from the region of the Free Republic of Wendland, the place where the German government in 1977 declared to build a nuclear disposal center. The strong history of protest and resistance have influenced her whole life, and Kerstin is active in the anti-nuclear movement since 1984. In younger days, she was more action-oriented, for example occupying the final deposit site of Gorleben and the loading crane for Castor nuclear waste transports in Dannenberg. Later, Kerstin continued to organize the protests against Castor transports, being head of the Bürgerinitiative Umweltschutz Lüchow-Dannenberg (BI, or Citizens’ Environmental Initiative of Lüchow-Dannenberg) from 2007 to 2012. More than 50,000 people joined the Castor protests on top of the German dispute about nuclear energy in 2010, more than live in the sparsely populated area (equivalent to five-and-a-half million people joining a protest in Washington, D.C.)
 
Now Kerstin is leading the ministry of foreign affairs of the BI and is organizing internationally in the Don’t Nuke the Climate campaign. DNTC works to prevent the world from more Fukushimas and Tschernobyls and insists on no climate money for nuclear power, as it is too dangerous, too dirty, too expensive, too slow, and violates human rights and the principles of climate justice.
Kerstin has raised 6 adorable children, and loves to swim and bike and spend time with family and friends in nature.
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NDCAP June 28th

In an email, Kate O’Connor, Chair of the Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel, wrote:

“The next meeting of the Vermont Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel will take place on Thursday, June 28, 2018 from 6-9pm in the multipurpose room at Brattleboro Area Middle School.  The agenda will include a discussion with staff representing Vermont’s congressional delegation, along with a presentation on spent fuel storage by a representative from the US Department of Energy.  The full agenda will be sent out later this week.”

Kate said, the last meeting, that she would not ask to be re-appointed, saying lack of state support for the panel endangered its mission.

Sparks fly over state support for Yankee Panel (Rutland Herald)

 Citizens nuclear advisory panel faces change (VtDigger)

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CLF Sums Up Objections

We can’t say it better than Sandy Levine of CLF.

“the deal….lets Entergy walk away from the toxic mess it created. That’s not allowed in the transfer of traditionally contaminated sites…”
“As it stands, the plan will leave Vermonters as the guinea pigs of a shaky new venture that may set a dangerous precedent for future transfers.”
 

Risky Vt. Yankee transfer should be stopped

Communities in Vermont still reeling from the toxic waste left behind in their drinking water from long-closed industrial plants understand the importance of corporate responsibility when it comes to environmental issues. Common sense protections keep polluters on the hook and money in the bank for clean-up efforts.

Unfortunately, the planned transfer of the remains of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power facility lack those sensible safeguards. Through a confusing mess involving over a dozen separate corporations — many shielded from liability and without any assets of their own — the current plant owner, Entergy, seeks to hand over the property and clean-up responsibility to NorthStar, a demolition company.

The planned transfer requires approval from both the Vermont Public Utilities Commission and the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Vermont regulators must determine if the plan “promotes the general good of the state.” In other words, does the transfer leave the facility with a capable and responsible owner who has sufficient financial resources to properly clean up the site?

During days of technical hearings and in recent filings submitted to regulators, Conservation Law Foundation has argued that the answer to that question is no. The fact that the deal allows Entergy to simply hand over the keys while the new owners lack the financial resources to clean up the site should make residents nervous. NorthStar also lacks insurance that is commonplace for similar transfers, another red flag.

In a recent correspondence, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission also sounded the alarm, writing that it was unable to confirm that the proposed funding was adequate or that there will be enough money available to complete the necessary decommissioning. The response lays bare the hollowness of support for the transfer from state and local officials.

In response to these concerns, NorthStar attempted to sweeten the deal by adding performance bonds, targeting future proceeds for managing spent fuel, and changing the terms of the support agreement. But a deal that needs to be sweetened is sour to begin with. Lacking money in the bank and financially secure partners to back up the proposal if it falls short, continued promises from NorthStar that aren’t supported with real resources are misleading and should not be relied upon.

The proposed deal also lets Entergy walk away from the toxic mess it created. That’s not allowed in the transfer of traditionally contaminated sites — like old military bases — where it’s common for the transferring entity to remain on the hook as a backup to assist with cleanup efforts. Entergy operated this plant for years, including when the plant leaked and contaminated the site and nearby waterways. If Entergy believes NorthStar will do as good a job as they say, then it should stand strongly behind the deal and agree to maintain responsibility if something goes wrong.

Finally, the state’s troubled history with Vermont Yankee should make regulators even more cautious. By an overwhelming vote, the Vermont Legislature in 2010 declined to approve continued operation of the Vermont Yankee plant. The plant was only allowed to continue operating after suing the state in federal court and forcing the decision to be struck down.

Vermont should not succumb to the hollow promises put forth in support of this risky deal. Whatever is decided, the plan for the future of the Vermont Yankee site will have significant impacts on Vermonters for years to come. A proposal this important needs to be backed up with real plans and the money to support them, which NorthStar has yet to do. As it stands, the plan will leave Vermonters as the guinea pigs of a shaky new venture that may set a dangerous precedent for future transfers.

Sandra Levine is a senior attorney with the Conservation Law Foundation in Montpelier, Vermont www.clf.org

Risky Vt. Yankee transfer should be stopped

 
 
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Entergy & Fake Grassroots

“Clean Energy. Good Jobs. Reliable Power.” Sound familiar? For years we put up with Entergy’s PR campaign for Vermont Yankee, pitched over photos of Yankee workers: “Safe. Clean. Reliable.”

Entergy has been using this same pitch in New Orleans — this time to build a natural gas plant which would be paid for and maintained by Entergy customers. The gas plant would be built in New Orleans East, a black, Vietnamese and Latino neighborhood.   The local Sierra Club is not alone in labeling Entergy’s plan environmental racism.  Plus, “According to projections by the U.S. Geological Survey, portions of New Orleans East, including the southern edge of the Michoud site, could be underwater before ratepayers cover the full cost of construction.”

Facing an uphill battle, Entergy hired a PR firm to sway opinion. That firm hired a fake company, Council for Responsible Governance, which is two guys who hire actors to act like citizens. The actors attended public hearings wearing orange, pro-Entergy tee shirts. Some actors received $200  to make public comments based on scripts at utility hearings. They also filled the room to capacity, which meant “real” citizens were unable to get into the hearing and speak.

In other words, fake grassroots activists.

Now this all really sticks in my craw.

Entergy claims it knew nothing about the paid actors, and that it was all the fault of the PR firm they hired. Do we believe them? Remember: a few years ago, Entergy created a fake grassroots group of African Americans to push for a project on Long Island.

Entergy stumbles on astroturf

https://thelensnola.org/2018/05/04/actors-were-paid-to-support-entergys-power-plant-at-new-orleans-city-council-meetings/

 

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Public Hearing April 12

The VT Public Utilities Commission will hold a public hearing on the sale of VT Yankee at the Brattleboro Union High School multi-purpose room, 131 Fairground Road, Brattleboro. Please use the East side entrance past the gymnasium for entrance.

At 6:00 P.M, prior to the start of the 7:00 PM public hearing , the VT Department of Public Service will host an information session.

 

Here are two issues we’ll bring up at the hearing: transparency and state oversight.

1. Transparency:

NorthStar claims it will be transparent, open to the public, and honest. At the last NDCAP meeting that transparency was put to the test.  Lissa Weinmann, NDCAP panel member and policy expert on nuclear waste, asked Scott State – now CEO of both Waste Control Specialists (WCS) and NorthStar – if the interim high level nuclear waste site WCS is planning for Texas will have to wait until federal law is changed to allow interim sites.  State said no. She was incredulous, and repeated her questions; he stuck to his no. Chris Williams of CAN and NIRS expressed his shock at State’s denial. He and Nancy Braus of Safe & Green had just spent the weekend at a national nuclear waste policy conference, where the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 was a hot topic. The act only allows for centralized storage. No interim storage is allowed.

The US General Accounting Office backs up Lissa & Chris:

Authorization: The Administration would require new legislative authority for interim storage because provisions in the Nuclear Waste Policy Act that authorized interim storage have either expired or are unusable because they were tied to milestones in the development of a repository at Yucca Mountain that have not been met. www.gao.gov/

You can read more about this on our website here: A Kumbaya Moment?

 2. State Oversight

Can the state agencies provide enough oversight of decommissioning for us to trust that the companies are doing the job they claim they can do? Recent events brought renewed attention to this perennial problem.

  • A former Navy yard radioactive superfund site in San Francisco is being redeveloped for housing. Workers switched hundreds of radioactive soil samples with those from sites previously declared clean. The contractor originally denied the allegation, raised by four whistle blowers, but has since admitted to the fraud. One of many recent articles is here. Here is an earlier article on the whistleblowers. We need tight oversight to ensure this kind of fraud does not occur at Vermont Yankee.
  • In northern Vermont, despite years of good work by activists, a gas pipeline was built. Citizens worry that the Department of Public Service failed “to provide sufficient oversight during the pipeline’s construction.” 80 public comments and good work by James Dumont, their lawyer, convinced the PUC to take a closer look. On Thursday, the PUC “ordered a comprehensive investigation of the methods and practices used by Vermont Gas Systems in the construction of a controversial, 41-mile gas pipeline from Colchester to New Haven.” VtDigger covers the story here: 2018/04/05/investigation ordered vermont gas pipeline/ and here.

 The Vermont Yankee sale agreement calls for lots of reports from NorthStar to the state.  Is self-reporting enough? As we read the agreement, the State would only have ‘boots on the ground’ oversight under protocols to be created for non-radiological oversight. See MOU ¶5(k). We hope we are missing something, and that the state will have personnel on site for all aspects of decommissioning. Then again, it may be another situation whereby the federal rules on nuclear reactors and radioactive waste restrict the authority of the state.

 Perhaps the state will talk about their authority to monitor decommissioning during their presentation at 6pm, before the PUC public hearing. We hope to see you there.

For more information on the sale of VT Yankee, including links to the sale agreement and the latest news, go to our Decommissioning Resources page.

The formal PUC announcement is here: http://puc.vermont.gov/event/puc-case-no-8880-rescheduled-public-hearing 

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Public Comments & the NorthStar Settlement

Stephanie Hoffman, an attorney with the VT Dept. of Public Service, made a presentation on March 22 at NDCAP on how the department contributed to the settlement agreement among NorthStar, Entergy, the State and other parties to the sale. Her power point outlines is useful and informative, especially pages 9 and 10 which are charts about all those financial details outlined in the agreement.

You can access the presentation here. 03.22.2018 – NDCAP PSD MOU Presentation

At the same meeting, Ann Darling of the Safe and Green Campaign commented on Section 8 of the MOU, addressing her remarks to Scott State, CEO of NorthStar and Waste Control Services. You can read her remarks here: Ann Darling Open letter to Scott State, NorthStar & WCS CEO, March 2018

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