VT Yankee: Regenerations & Power Struggle

The documentary Robbie Leppzer has been working on since 2010, entitled “Power Struggle,” will premiere this fall.  Mark your calendars: Sunday 2pm on 10/23 at the Academy of Music in Northampton, and it will open Brattleboro’s Film Festival on Thursday, 11/3 at 7pm.  Details to come. http://powerstrugglemovie.com/

9/25: “Regenerations” An interRegenerationsdisciplinary performance project using dance, poetry, live music and installation. One public performance only, on Sunday 9/25 at 118 Elliot Street in Brattleboro. Performers: Grainne Buchanan, Megan Buchanan, Meg Bathory-Peeler, Bruce Hesselbach and others TBA. Installation by Duncan Johnson and Megan Buchanan. $10 suggested donation (no one turned away for lack of funds). Supported in part by the Vermont Arts Council.

Other local events of note:

9/17: Free talk by Joanna Macy in Brattleboro, Centre Congregational Church, Main Street at 7:30pm. Among other things, Joanna is the founder of the Nuclear Guardianship project. In her 90s, this may be our last opportunity to hear her. Details on Sept. 17 talk here. 

9/22: The next meeting of NDCAP (Vermont Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel) will take place on Thursday, September 22 at the Brattleboro Union High School multipurpose room on Fairground Rd, Brattleboro. http://publicservice.vermont.gov/electric/ndcap

10/15 & 10/16: 350VT is hosting a Climate Organizer Leadership Training at the Root Social Justice in Brattleboro. “explore climate justice and racial justice, theory of change and campaign building, and we will learn about core organizing skills.  Click here for more info!

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May 26 NDCAP Meeting

 

There were a few pleasant surprises at the May NDCAP meeting.

Emergency Planning & Paying for Oversight

The state of Vermont is resurrecting the EPZ! The state will take on responsibility for emergency planning beginning this July. It hopes to continue until the highly radioactive spent fuel rods are out of the spent fuel pool and in dry cask storage. The VT Dept. of Emergency Management will bill Entergy for the work. Their staffer, Erica Borneman, said a draft of the EPZ state plan will be published before the end of June.

In addition, the Dept. of Health, Agency of Natural Resources, and Dept. of Agriculture will conduct oversight of non-radiological activity at Vermont Yankee, such as water monitoring, and bill Entergy for it.

Billing Entergy for both the EPZ and oversight are made possible by a last minute addition to the state’s budget for 2017. “Bill back” is a common practice; the state does the work then charges the entity which has a Certificate of Good from the Public Service Board.  The new language in the budget bill, “monitoring the post-closure activities of any nuclear generating plant within the state,” will allow the state agencies to bill back. Otherwise, a department would have to go to the PSB for approval to bill each expense.

Entergy is probably going to want to take all these expenses from the decommissioning trust fund. Chris Recchia, Commissioner of the Dept. of Public Service, expects a fight. He also said emergency planning and monitoring non-radiological substances are not decommissioning, and so should not be drawn from the trust fund.

VtDigger http://vtdigger.org/2016/05/29/state-to-bill-vermont-yankee-for-emergency-planning/

Brattleboro Reformer http://www.reformer.com/latestnews/ci_29955509/state-charge-entergy-emergency-planning-at-vermont-yankee

STATE COMMENTS ON NEW DECOMMISSIONING RULES

This agenda item started with an explanation that only a bureaucrat could love by our state nuclear engineer of the byzantine process by which the NRC will create the new decommissioning rules. We were then rewarded for our patience with three presentations by the state. Vermont’s comment to the NRC was over 100 pages long. It was drafted by Vermont and joined by NY, CT, NH and MA.

It had everything I would have asked the NRC to do.

All decommissioning should be complete within 10 years of closure. No SAFSTOR. Public health and environmental monitoring must continue until decommissioning is complete. Any reactor undergoing decommissioning when the rule is approved should be subject to the new rule. Host communities and states should have a seat at the table and “be on an equal footing with licensees [owners].” Emergency planning should stay in place until the fuel is in dry casks. Prepare for terrorists, sabotage, fire, and natural disasters. NRC approval of the PSDAR (Post Shut Down Assessment Report). Community advisory panels must be independent, not run by the reactor owner. Transparent use of the Decommissioning Trust Fund, and no use of the fund for spent fuel management.

I could go on, but at the end of the hour my only public comment was “Thank you.” It was clear from the presentations that, once again, Vermont is acting as David fighting Goliath, taking the lead in an issue that impacts citizens across the country. It was also clear that the state’s team knows their issues inside and out (at long last). What will happen if the Governor is a Republican next year?

TAXES: An Unpleasant Surprise

Did you know that the IRS collects a 20% tax on the Decommissioning Trust Fund? Not many of us did. It is yet another new twist – and another drawback – to the “merchant” status of Vermont Yankee. Because it is owned by a corporation, the trust fund is taxed. From 2005 to 2014, $34 Million in federal income taxes came out of Yankee’s DTF. The state of Vermont does not tax the fund. Public utilities are non-profits. Their trust funds are not subject to the tax, so no taxes were taken out prior to Entergy’s purchasing the reactor. [Vt Digger covered the issue this week.]

Speaking of the DTF, Entergy reported that, thanks to a “positive market,” the fund gained $12 million between February and April, even though Entergy continued to take money out. Entergy also deposited its third (of five) payment of $5 million into the “Site Restoration Fund,” which brings that total to date to $15 million.

STILL WAITING …

The State is still waiting for a decision by the NRC on using the DTF for radioactive waste management, and on shrinking the EPZ while there is still radioactive waste in the pool.  Everyone is still waiting to hear from the Public Service Board (PSB) on the location of the new pad for dry cask storage.  A few weeks ago, the New England Coalition formally accused two of Entergy’s witnesses of filing “false and misleading information” to the PSB. NEC disputes Entergy testimony The PSB ruled against them this week, as too late and not that the Coalition did not “raise[s] sufficient questions as to warrant further investigation.” [VtDigger 6.3.16]

IMAGINE IT GONE

We all know how downright depressing talking nukes can be. The feds are against us, the corporation can’t be trusted, the science is scarier than hell, and the odds of making any headway are slim to none. Most of the NDCAP panelists were new to this when they took their seats 18 months ago. For a few, the experience has been a real wake-up call on the corporate capture of democracy. So who can blame them for getting excited about shipping the pieces, parts, and low level waste out of Vermont once and for all?

In mid May, about 15 officials from the US Dept. of Energy toured the Yankee site, checked out the railroad tracks, and gave an enthusiastic two thumbs up to their condition to transport Yankee’s detritus out of here. At the last minute, a few NDCAP panel members were invited to join the show and tell. VtDigger covers their visit here.  The good news is that the regional center that oversees spent fuel transportation east of the Mississippi River is in Burlington, Vermont. One panel member reported that the DOE estimated it will take 10,000 train car loads to ship the demolished reactor in pieces and parts to the WCS nuclear repository in Andrews, Texas, which has a contract with Vermont. When it is time to move the radioactive fuel in the casks, for security reasons the lead car has to be able to see the end car, so only 7 casks will be allowed per train.

As to where the radioactive waste would go …  all excitement came to a screeching halt. Which makes sense: there is no facility.   Which leads us to the next topic of discussion:

CONSENT

Not the kind of consent when one romantic partner asks of another, “may I touch you here?”

This consent is when the US government asks: “can we put waste in your town that will be highly radioactive for the next 100,000 years of so? We don’t know how to make it safe, but we will figure something out.”

Searching for a solution post-Yucca, the President’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Nuclear Waste decided on a “consent based” siting process. Andrews County in Texas said yes. Why consent to that Andrews is a poor rural county. It is now the home of two “low-level” rad waste dumps owned by Waste Control Specialists (WCS), and the county receives “5% of gross receipts” from the low level waste.

On April 28, the French company AREVA, an international firm, NACL, and WCS applied for a permit to build an “interim” high level radioactive waste storage facility there. If all goes well, WCS expects to have it built “as early as 2021.”  http://wcsstorage.com/

The WCS dumps are where Vermont’s “low-level” radioactive waste goes, as part of the Texas-Vermont Compact. The compact was originally just our two states. Then the Compact voted to welcome waste from more states [VtDigger 2012]. Now, it wants to expand and add highly radioactive waste. This radioactive waste creep is exactly what we feared would happen – as did the voters of Andrew County. Although WCS boasts of local support, approval of the low-level sites passed by only three votes. The site is close to the huge Ogallala aquifer. The fight to open the two WCS low-level waste dumps reads like an environmental crime novel, with re-drawn maps, bought-off commissioners, and dirty deals. The builder was a major contributor to the Bush campaign and a Karl Rove crony. (Here is one Texan’s synopsis.)

Sarcasm Alert:  But what does dirty Texas politics have to do with us, right? Aren’t we all just eager to see it all gone?

THREE MORE NUKES TO CLOSE

Let’s close on a positive note, shall we? Exelon – the largest nuclear corporation in the US – announced that it would shut down its two Quad City reactors and the single unit at Clinton in 2018. They are losing money and the State of Illinois declined to force the ratepayer or state taxpayers to subsidize them. Read briefs in Beyond Nuclear which note other reactors in financial straits. A month ago, NIRS posted a piece on its Safe Energy blog about Exelon, “quite likely the nation’s greediest electric utility.”

Vermont Yankee’s closure for “economic reasons” started the dominoes falling. Which one is next?

Peace,

Leslie Sullivan Sachs

Safe & Green Campaign

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3.24.16 Citizens Advisory Panel meeting

The next meeting of the Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel is Thursday, March 24. As always, it is open to the public and there is time for public comment at the end. You can access the agenda on NDCAP’s webpage, here.

It will be from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM in the Multipurpose Room at Brattleboro Union High School on 131 Fairground Road, Brattleboro, VT.

Kate O’Connor, chair, writes:

We’ve added two additional participants to the water management discussion:
 
(1) A representative from Energy Solutions – the company employed by Entergy to remove the water – will be at the meeting to talk about what they do.
 
(2) Ray Powell, the NRC Region 1 Branch Chief of the Decommissioning Branch, will be on the phone to answer questions.
 

“The Panel will receive a presentation from Entergy and the State of Vermont on the water management issues at the Vermont Yankee site.  The Panel will also discuss an advisory opinion on groundwater monitoring at Vermont Yankee and receive an overview of the federal taxation of decommissioning trust funds.”

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Five Years of Nuclear Disaster: Fukushima Anniversary

Fuku 5 webThe fifth anniversary of the tsunami and earthquake which devastated Japan on March 11, 2011 caused the press to again — briefly — pay attention to the condition of the four Fukushima reactors, the radiated water gushing into the Pacific, the 9 millions bags of contaminated soil and debris, the daily crises faced by 80,000 evacuees, and the ghost towns. (Links to a few are below).

Safe & Green held a vigil on Saturday March 12 for a vigil between 10am and noon, at Pliny Park in downtown Brattleboro. About 30 citizens from Windham County, central Vermont, and downwind in the Pioneer Valley gathered together to counteract the nuclear industry whitewash, and spread the truth. At noon we walked silently through the Farmers Market and along Main Street.

Farmers Market IMG_2526sidewalk off center

 

 

 


 

By Safe & Green Campaign members:

Fukushima MotherhoodEnd Circle

Not a Wake Up Call

No end to nuclear disaster

Five years of local Fukushima solidarity actions

Outside Media

Fukushima: Five Years Later [Popular Science February 2016] A clear overview

NIRS April 5, 2016 Telebriefing on current conditions in Japan with Mary Olsen, NIRS and Arnie Gundersen, Fairewinds, who both the country in March 2016.  Presentation 30 minutes, followed by Q&A (60 minutes). http://www.nirs.org/fukushima/telebrief_20160405_fukushima.mp3

Arnie Gundersen, Fairewinds, reporting from Japan now. This audio episode is on daily living impacts. [Put on a Happy Face – Japan]

Namie: Abandoned Town in Japan’s Chernobyl (The Telegraph UK photos]

Kawauchi: Citizens step in where government has failed Fukushima children [Simply Info, the Fukushima Project 2014]

Over 9 million bags of nuclear clean up waste piled up across Fukushima [Mainichi JP December 2015]

Five years on, contamination crisis [South China Morning Post February 2016]

Japan to consider ocean disposal [Ashahi Shimbum December 2015]

For Fukushima mothers, protecting children from radiation comes at a heavy price [Ashahi Shimbum February 2016]

Cancer on the Rise in post-Fukushima [Fairewinds Energy Education November 2015]

Public Housing for Disaster Victims [Japan Times February 2016]

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PSR: 10,000 new cancers from Fukushima

Yesterday, Physicians for Social Responsibility released its research on the health impacts of Fukushima.  PSR estimates 10,000 excess cancers due to Fukushima.  Access the report or read highlights here.

Howard Schaeffer, long-time cheerleader for VT Yankee and the nuclear industry, told NDCAP at its February meeting meeting that no cancer hss resulted from the March 2011 triple meltdowns at Fukushima. We sincerely hope the citizen panel did not believe him. In its press conference releasing the PSR report, Dr. Alex Rosen, pediatrician and vice-chair, International Physicians for Prevention of Nuclear War, said:

 “One is of course reminded of the tobacco lobby disputing the notion that the horrific effects of its products have no adverse health impacts. This self-serving falsehood echoed for decades was made possible simply because the long-term health effects of smoking were not immediately observable. The 10,000 to 66,000 people who will develop cancer solely as a result of the “manmade disaster” are neither ‘negligible’ nor ‘insufficient,’ as Japanese authorities, the nation’s nuclear lobby, and various industry-dominated international bodies, would have you believe.”

Please stand up and speak truth to power. Join Safe & Green tomorrow, Saturday March 12th from 10am-Noon to remember Fukushima. Pliny Park, corner of High Street & Main Street, Brattleboro. More event info is here.

 

 

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People Power Wave by March 18

Decommissioning is the nuclear power wave of the future. Stop letting this corrupt industry dominate its captive regulator who should be answerable to the public, not profiteers. Add your voice to change the decommissioning rules. Comment to the NRC by March 18 by going to this Regulations.gov link.

Need more info before writing your comments? We sat in on a Webinar hosted by NIRS & CAN. They make 11 recommendations.  You can download the NIRS PDF Powerpoint with more info. Here is a summary:

  1. Require Full Decom Funding Upon Closure

Owners like Entergy exploit SAFSTOR to avoid compliance with regulations and defer cleanup for decades. The result: workers who know the reactor aren’t on the job; the environment is at risk of more contamination over time; economic planning deferred.

  1. Bar Exemptions for Decom Fund Expenses

NRC lets Entergy use Yankee decomm trust funds for nuclear waste management and storage, property taxes, and lobbying, among other things not in the rules.

  1. Restore NEPA Compliance

National Environmental Policy Act was required in the past, which makes decommissioning a Major Federal Action requiring EPA involvement and meaningful oversight.

  1. Restore Public Hearing Rights and Safeguards

Not just one public meeting! We deserve full hearing rights. We who live in the region impacted more than any other stakeholders.

  1. Require FULL Decommissioning Plans

The PSDAR is now rubber stamped by NRC. Require site-specific planning with detailed independent site surveys at the reactor to be decommissioning – not cookie-cutter plans.

  1. Restrict Use of SAFSTOR and DECON

Limit SAFSTOR and require SAFSTOR time period be justified with evidence. Decommissioning should begin at the earliest possible date determined by worker and community safety – NOT by corporate financial manipulation.

  1. Create 4th Decom Option: PDSR

Planned Decom & Site Remediation (PDSR) would limit duration of SAFSTOR to 20 years max, based on safety, not money; include state and community involvement, and retain 50% of current workforce.

  1. Establish Site-Specific Advisory Boards

Independent advisory boards with resources to hire technical consultants with access to information and the NRC.

  1. Permit State Oversight of Decom

States must have resources and authority to regulate pollution within their borders and decommissioning funds that impact taxes and host communities economic development.

  1. Require NRC Inspections and Oversight

The NRC inspectors have left VT Yankee. Who is enforcing even the weak NRC rules? Where is the accountability? Unannounced inspections plus liaison to Community Advisory Board should be mandatory.

  1. Increase License Fees for Decom Reactors

NRC must adapt to industry changes. Operators’ license fees should reflect projected decom costs.

 

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Busy Week: PSB & NDCAP

The Public Service Board is holding technical hearings in Docket 8300 today and tomorrow. This is Entergy’s application for a Certificate of Public Good (CPG) for a new, second pad for the dry casks which will hold the high level radioactive waste from the fuel pool.

In the past, all VT Yankee cases were accessible via the Board’s website but the Board is not posting documents from this Docket for the public to read.  We have previously postecd on the issue here.

Since we have no idea how long the radioactive waste will sit there, it is important that this be done well. The Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel (NDCAP) is wrestling with the issue. The panel has been unable to come to consensus on an advisory opinion. It will be discussed Thursday night at their meeting. [6pm, Multi-Purpose Room, Brattleboro Union High School].

Schuyler Gould, a member of VYDA and now a New England Coalition trustee, has done a  Markup – NDCAP Draft Advisory Opinion on the issue here. His Cover Letter, Gould Markup Advisory Opinion is here. In the cover letter, he writes:

With all due respect to the efforts of the Panel on this particularly difficult issue, even the latest draft falls far short of standing up for the interests of the citizens it is commissioned to represent. The entire opinion is based, essentially, upon assertions by Entergy which have yet to be reviewed by the Public Service Board and judged to meet its regulatory obligations with the State of Vermont.

It is unclear to me, and others, why Entergy is even included on a citizens panel, it has been shown repeatedly to be at variance with citizens’ interests. That said, it should not be allowed to direct, certainly not to veto, the will of the majority of the panel.

The latest draft of the Opinion calls for “reliable assurances” from Entergy to “relevant regulatory bodies.” We all know a litany of assurances Entergy has given year after year after year—to the NRC, the Public Service Board, the Department of Public Service, the Department of Health, the Agency of Natural Resources, the Governor, the Legislature—not to mention the public, which have proven, quite simply, false.

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Independent Monitoring Needed

Dr. Bill Irwin, Radiological & Toxicological Sciences Chief at the VT Dept. of Health (VDH), is fighting for Vermont’s ability to retain its independent monitoring of radiation at Vermont Yankee. He writes:

The citizens of Vermont have relied on the independent VDH laboratory analysis of split samples from the VY site and its surrounding public environment which have been published for more than forty years. This independence and ease of access to data is a cornerstone of Vermont’s public health system and it provides Vermonters greater confidence that their land, water, air and health are fully protected.

The above is his conclusion to a Draft Advisory Opinion, under consideration by the Nuclear Decommissioning Citizen Advisory Panel. The State has more stringent air and water radiation regulations than the federal government’s, which Entergy find irksome. We agree with Irwin that the state needs to keep an eye on radiation during decommissioning, “what will be the largest industrial activity in Vermont’s history” .

Entergy doesn’t want to spend the money. They wrote their own Draft Advisory Opinion.

The full panel will meet on Thursday, February 25 at 6pm in the Multi-Purpose room of Brattleboro Union High School. This topic is on the agenda at 6:55 pm. You can read the Drafts and download the Agenda here on NDCAP’s new website: http://publicservice.vermont.gov/electric/ndcap

Public comments on the drafts can be emailed: PSD.NDCAP@vermont.gov

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Rad Waste Advisory

Who will pay if the Dept of Energy hasn’t taken away the highly radioactive waste in 68 100+ ton storage containers when it is time to take down the buildings? Some folks who sit on the Nuclear  Decommissioning Citizen Advisory Panel (NDCAP) want assurance from Entergy that the company (or any subsequent owners) — not Vermont taxpayers — will pay for any delay in decommissioning the site. You can imagine what Entergy thinks of that.

onedaysonallthiswillbeyoursTwo Advisory Opinion have been drafted by an NDCAP subcommittee.   Only a few lines in each is different; the emphasis in italics is mine. Draft A reads:

 In the event the presence of the DFS casks will cause an undue delay in the demolition of the reactor building and/or structures, ENVY or any subsequent owner will commit to remedying the delay in a manner that does not encumber the decommissioning trust or site restoration funds, and which will not burden taxpayers beyond recoverable costs from the U. S. Department of Energy.

Draft B, reads:

Under NRC regulations, in the event the presence of the DFS casks will cause an undue delay in the demolition of the Reactor Building and/or structures, ENVY, or any subsequent owner of the property, will be required to update the PSDAR and DCE as well, if there are resulting significant increases in costs. ENVY or any subsequent owner of the property will be responsible for providing any additional funds needed to maintain the site consistent with applicable regulations in effect at the time, including, for example, funds or damages recovered from the U.S. Department of Energy.

We see two main points

  1. Since the Dept. of Energy (DOE) has failed in this effort after 75 years of nuclear waste being created, forgive us if we are skeptical about its potential for success. There is no place for DOE  to put the waste, currently. It is searching the US for communities that will offer their “consent” to  host a site. Even if a community agrees, it will take time to work its way through the legal and regulatory structures — especially if there is local opposition. Then the site design would have to be approved, etc etc etc — then built.
  2. If Entergy is so convinced that it can decommission the entire reactor site safely without the 68 dry casks getting in the way, why is it spending time fighting this purely Advisory opinion from a panel of mostly just plain folks?

The main purpose of the Opinion is to advise the Public Service Board, as that three-person state regulator considers the issue of a new storage pad for the waste. The Board has a history of permitting a project but adding conditions to the permit.

The full panel will meet on Thursday, February 25 at 6pm in the Multi-Purpose room of Brattleboro Union High School. This topic is on the agenda at 6:55 pm. You can read the Drafts and download the Agenda here on NDCAP’s new website: http://publicservice.vermont.gov/electric/ndcap

Public comments on the drafts can be emailed: PSD.NDCAP@vermont.gov

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February E-News

Dear Friends of the Safe & Green Campaign,

The 5th anniversary of the beginning of the Fukushima melt-downs, evacuations, contaminations and deaths is approaching, March 11. On Saturday, March 12, we will host a vigil at Pliny Park in Brattleboro. We will honor the 100,000 Japanese people still unable to return to their homes and share what we have learned about Fukushima five years after the disaster began. Please join us from 10am to Noon. Details will be coming soon.

This week, TEPCO’s management claimed Fukushima could be all cleaned up in 40 years. If true, Fukushima will be cleaned up before Vermont Yankee! We wish we could believe TEPCO, but are skeptical. Just look at a single issue, radioactive water: everything TEPCO has tried has failed to keep the water contained.

Speaking of leaking radioactive water: Vermont Yankee and Indian Point are both leaking tritium at a rapid clip. Entergy funds to monitor groundwater at VT Yankee will expire in two months, and Governor Shumlin has put zero dollars in the budget for the state to cover it. Just days after the State and Entergy argued over this at Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens’ Advisory Panel meeting, the news broke that 90,000 gallons of groundwater laced with tritium are approaching the turbine building. NRC thinks the site has more than 1 million gallons of radioactive water and likes Entergy’s plan to ship it all to Idaho. Read more on VtDigger (and check out the Comments section for creative solutions worthy of The Onion.)

NIRS has two fact sheets on tritium: Tritium Basic Info  Tritium natural background

At Indian Point, “One monitoring well showed a nearly 65,000 percent spike in radioactivity, from 12,300 picocuries per liter to more than 8 million picocuries per liter, the governor said.” The NRC and Entergy say there is no threat to the public, but NY Gov. Cuomo said the State will investigate. Edwin Lyman of the Union of Concerned Scientists points the finger at Entergy management.

The State of New York doesn’t think the two Indian Point nukes should get 20-year extensions of their licenses, because the 2.5 billion gallons of water Indian Point uses every day hurts the Hudson River and kills its fish. Entergy claims this is using safety as an excuse and cites the Vermont Yankee federal preemption decision. [PowerMag.com 01.21.2016]

The NRC’s rubber stamp has been getting a lot of Vermont action. Everything is OK!

— VY security is OK: VY Security Endorsed by NRC. It’s all hush hush, because, well, Security. One thing Entergy’s Marty Cohn would say is that people are no longer trespassing because there are signs up saying not to. (Ahem, when did that ever stop us?)

— Entergy’s PSDAR is OKNRC Finds No Issues with VY Clean Up Plan and NRC OKs VY Decomm Plan. Of course, this plan that does not require NRC approval anyway …

–The decommissioning trust fund is OK in Entergy’s hands – NRC: Entergy Complying with Investment Guidelines on Trust Fund (Barre Times-Argus). This comes on the heels of news that Entergy spent down 10% of the fund in the first year of post-closure operations: Entergy Spent 10% of Trust Fund in 2015 (VtDigger) It spent $58 million. (Ironically, Yankee now pays GMP $100,000 a month for electricity and has asked Efficiency VT for help). The State of Vermont disagrees with the NRC that money from the fund should be able to go to spent fuel management, property taxes and other non-decommissioning activities and have filed suit with the NRC. Vermont is joined by the states of Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Hampshire, which are not only worried about the impact of 60 years of Safstor on their own states, but worry about the NRC setting precedent for use of trust funds. Each has their own reactors, and Pilgrim will close in a few years. And all four states are worried about the nuclear waste.

Recently, Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds Energy Education in Burlington “Decommissioning: Trust Fund or Slush Fund?” Listen to the podcast and or read the transcript. Gundersen stated, “…with the use of exemptions, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has turned the decommissioning trust fund into a decommissioning slush fund. And now they’re talking about avoiding exemptions entirely by changing the law.”

What Arnie is referring to is the NRC is drafting new rules to decommission reactors. The nuclear industry is promoting its own vision of decomm, and you can bet it’s about money and not public safety or cleaning up a site for productive re-use in the community. Click here to submit your comments. FYI: the comment period was extended to March 18 after public pressure, although NRC’s public comment page has the old date of January 4. Hmmm…. Oversight?

Also happening on the Yankee front: the VT Public Service Board has set February 22 and 23 for arguments on a permit for a new storage pad (ISFSI) for dry casks. The PSB will allow Ray Shadis to testify on behalf of the New England Coalition. (Entergy had fought his testimony). NDCAP has been working the heart of the matter. “… delays or other interference caused by the ISFSI being adjacent to the facility to be dismantled are a public concern, and any associated costs should be borne by the owner and not the public or the Decommissioning Trust Fund.” Entergy insists the Dept. of Energy (DOE) will take away the waste, and if the DOE fails to do so (as it has ever since the first reactor was built), there is sufficient room for the pad and deconstruction of the building near the pad. If Entergy is so sure, why argue so vociferously against a citizen panel’s advisory opinion? As the NDCAP draft advisory opinion states, “If the location is indeed not a problem then this should be a ‘moot point.’”

US Senator Patrick Leahy weighed in on the future of nuclear waste storage with a letter to NDCAP. The Dept. of Energy has begun a “consent based approach” to find a nuclear waste site or sites. Of note: this week, the NH House of Representatives voted down a bill sponsored by Rep. Renny Cushing to prohibit NH from hosting a nuclear waste site.

The “Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act,” sponsored by Senator Crapo (that’s not a typo), passed the US Senate last week and is on its way to the House. It would give money to develop new nuclear power generation and calls for a four year limit on licensing — which will mean less public participation. VT Senator Patrick Leahy & MA Sen. Elizabeth Warren voted for it – what the hunh? Please contact Leahy & Warren and give them a piece of your mind: Sen Leahy 802-229-0569 http://leahy.senate.gov Sen. Warren (413) 788-2690 http://www.warren.senate.gov/

Let’s end with some love, this being Valentine’s Day. We love that Vermont has the 3rd most solar industry jobs, per capita, in the US. [Check it out here.] Look what can happen once a nuke shuts down!

Peace, Leslie Sullivan Sachs

 

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