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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Fukushima 2015

In 2011, we watched in horror as triple disasters unfolded in Japan.  We learned that at Fukushima Dai’ichi were Mark 1 GE BWR  reactors  — the same age,make and model as VT Yankee. We watched explosions in reactors that looked just like our’s. Eventually, we learned of evacuations. One week later, the NRC approved the license extension Vermont Yankee for another 20 years, clearly against the will of the people and government of Vermont. Last week, the NRC approved an exemption from emergency planning and evacuation, again clearly against the will of the people and government of Vermont. Even though Yankee is closed, evacuation could still be our fate — and we’ll be on our own.

Ann Darling, Safe & Green Campaign: Fukushima, 4 Years Later (3.11.15 The Commons)

Below are updates on Fukushima from sources we trust.

Beyond Nuclear: “Fukushima 4 Years Later” What’s new, what happened, what are the health implications if it happened here?  Thunderbird_Beyond Nuclear_March 2015  (6 page PDF, 03.10.15).

SimplyInfo 2015 annual report, by topic. 2015 was posted March 10, 2015. In addition, the website is a useful source for government and TEPCO reports, monitoring results, news and other information by topic.  http://www.fukuleaks.org/web/

The Guardian: “Nuclear power and humans cannot coexist” Fukushima 4 Years On Video (03.10.15)

Fairewinds Energy Education posted an interview with Chiho Kaneko upon her most recent visit to Japan. It has also posted a timeline with its reports on Fukushima from March-June, 2011. Arnie Gundersen writes in The Ecologist 03.11.15, Fukushima: An Unnatural Disaster that must never be repeated.

Kendra Ulrich is a Global Energy Campaigner at Greenpeace Japan. She was an organizer for Safe & Green from 2009-2012. A Lesson From Fukushima 03.11.15

Harvey Wasserman, author of Solartopia: 4th Anniversary Brings Hope as Renewable Energy Revolution Soars

2011 vigil bannerTowns

Radioactive Fukushima (Reuters)

Iitate: adopted by Putney in 2013

A nurse from Namie took photos of Iitate villagers for six months before the disaster. It is now a photo exhibit so people realize how much has been lost.

Evacuees remain uprooted  The Guardian 09.11.2014

Tomioka: The Fourth Winter of Fukushima

Kawauchi: Sister city to Greenfield. Home of Chikako Nishiyama who visited in fall of 2013 Kawauchi has been chosen to house contaminated waste. Currently, 43 million tons of plastic garbage bags full of dirt and vegetation cover Kawauchi. http://nuclear-news.net/2014/11/10/fukushima-japan-has-chosen-to-incinerate-tons-of-radioactive-waste/

Futaba & Okuma: Host towns to Fai’ichi reactors. TEPCO plans to incinerate contaminated waste in Futuba and Okuma. http://nuclear-news.net/2014/11/10/fukushima-japan-has-chosen-to-incinerate-tons-of-radioactive-waste/ 

Namie: adopted by Brattleboro in 2013

UCLA researchers photograph, map, video and interviews of recovery in Name and surrounding area (March 5, 2015)

Fukushima evacuee collects memories of those who will never return

Namie protests Tokyo Olympics 2020 decision

Fukushima ghost town struggles (The Guardian)

Namie cattle rancher, defying government, saves Fukushima’s radioactive cows.

Radiation destroys mountain culture of wild foraging and mushrooms cultivation

Remember and Reflect

CANCELLED — 90% chance of sleet & freezing rain. Fukushima 4 Years and Counting. Walk, Vigil & Learn on Saturday March 14, 2015. Solidarity with Fukushima: VT YankFukushima Year 4ee actions in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014. Essays by local safe energy advocates from Safe & Green, CAN, New England Coalition March 16, 2011. The NRC had just approved extending VT Yankee’s license to operate by 20 years, one week after the meltdowns of three similar reactors began in Japan.

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NRC: No EPZ

[3.12.15: CANCELLED due to weather:On Saturday, March 14, Safe and Green will walk from the gates of VT Yankee at noon, to honor the ghost towns of Fukushima.  We have a new reason to remember the 140,000 people evacuated on March 11, 2011.  Today’s press reports that the NRC Commissioners unanimously approved Entergy’s request to no longer support the 10-mile emergency planning zone around Vermont Yankee after April 2016. [Bennington Banner 03.05.15 and VtDigger 03.04.15]

Since 2000, the NRC says it has been working on rules for decommissioning reactors that would include a four-phase approach to the EPZ. One commissioner suggested Entergy take this approach in Vermont. The others said since no progress has actually been made on the rules, we are left us with nothing. Zip. Nada.

Japan announced this week they are expanding EPZs to 18 miles. Over 80,000 people still cannot return home to their towns in Fukushima, four years after the beginning of the disasters at the Dai’ichi nuclear reactors there.

Vermont Yankee is a twin to three of those reactors – a Mark 1 BWR plant built in 1972. In the event of a catastrophic fuel pool fire, we too could become nuclear refugees. Our towns could become ghost towns without the protections the EPZ once provided.

What can we do? Citizen action may be our only option at this point. Please join us for FUKUSHIMA: 4 YEARS & COUNTING. [Download a JPEG poster here]. WALK from the gate of Vermont Yankee to Brattleboro on March 14 to honor the victims of Dai’ichi and to spread the word on the NRC and Entergy absolving themselves of responsibility for our region. We suggest you make and wear a sign with the name of one of the towns in the evacuation zone. There is a list below. After the Walk, we will VIGIL at Pliny Park in Brattleboro at 2:30. [Details are here]. At 4pm, we are hosting a program, NUCLEAR POWER: CRADLE TO GRAVE, at Centre Congregational Church on Main Street, Brattleboro.

Logistics:

WALK: 11:30 am Folks from north of Vernon will meet at the parking lot of Marlboro Graduate Center in Brattleboro (just past the Brattleboro Museum on Vernon Street). We will car pool from there. Folks coming from south of Vernon should park in the Vernon Town Hall lot on Governor Hunt Road. Noon: Meet at VT Yankee Gate.

12:15pm – 2:30pm (estimate): We will hold a commemoration circle before walking, then  walk 6 miles from VT Yankee to Pliny Park, Brattleboro for the Vigil. It is a fairly easy walk with a few gentle hills. There are some beautiful river views. Please dress for the weather. Please wear a sign representing an evacuation town. We will have snacks at Pliny Park (no hot beverages, please patronize our wonderful local coffee shops and bakeries].

2:00-4:00 pm The Parlor in the Centre Congregational Church will be open in case walkers need to warm up or dry out, and in case of rain/snow/sleet for the Vigil.

Bratt posters at Fukushima w Chikako

2:30-3:45 pm: VIGIL at Pliny Park, Main & High Street, Brattleboro. We will honor the evacuees and ghost towns of Fukushima, with a focus on Namie, a town similar in distance and size to Brattleboro. [Read more on our 2013 Namie sister city action here.]

4:00pm: LEARN: Nuclear Power: Cradle to Grave. Parlor, Centre Congregation Church, 123 Main St., Brattleboro. Kevin Kamps of Beyond Nuclear will give us an update on Fukushima and a presentation on nuclear waste and dry cask storage (the grave). Jennifer Thurston of INFORM in Colorado will give a presentation on uranium mining (the cradle). Most of the program will be filled with Q&A and audience discussion. Details & bios are here.

 

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March 1 News Update

The weather isn’t the only thing heating up since the frigid NRC meeting last week. The big turn out of vocal activist Stakeholders at the NRC meeting, and again at this week’s NDCAP meeting, is helping to feed the fire under the State.  In the press, in NRC filings, and in meetings, sparks are flying. First, mark your calendar: March 14 we will honor the 130,000 Japanese who cannot return to their homes in Fukushima, and host a program on  nuclear waste & uranium mining. Details are here.

MARCH 23rd NRC Comment Deadline: Please Write Your Comments on Entergy’s decommissioning plan and submit them to the NRC. Be sure to include in your written comments the Docket No. 50-271 and post mark by March 23.  Mail to:  Cindy Bladey, Office of Administration, Mail Stop: 3WFN-06-A44M, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, D.C. 20555-0001. On Line:  direct link to Docket 50-271 or go to www.regulations.gov and enter Docket No. 50-271 in the search box.

02.26.15 Citizens Advisory Panel    

Click here for  our notes from the meeting.   Video of the full meeting has already been posted on  BCTV – quick work! 

Three dozen citizens showed up to watch dog Thursday’s meeting of the Nuclear Decommissioning Citizen Advisory Panel (NDCAP). About a dozen of us spoke throughout the evening.  As the night went on, tempers grew short between the state and Entergy. Despite an Entergy power point that closed with a commitment to be “open and transparent,” Entergy VP Chris Wamser refused to answer any questions about the EPZ because the State is appealing a related decision. The state responded to questions at length. [See State appeals decision VtDigger 02.26.15  and Entergy avoids questions on emergency planning zone 02.28.15]. The State wants to know when Energy will respond to their questions about the PSDAR (submitted 12.19.15); Entergy replied “tomorrow.”  The state pummeled Entergy throughout the meeting on reporting data. Wamser claimed they are fully complying with the permit process and “not doing any shady business.”   The Panel intends to create a “neutral” NDCAP website to post filings, articles and other information to educate the Panelists and the public.  Here are our notes from the meeting. Video of the full meeting has already been posted on  BCTV – quick work!
The State and the citizen panelists now understand how completely the public is blocked from participating in the NRC process.  We’ve known it for decades. We need to keep the heat on so they don’t throw their hands up and surrender, as most states do. We know NDCAP is a priority for the State.  Two Commissioners and an Agency Secretary carpool down to Brattleboro every month to face Entergy; they aren’t sending minions. The remarks of other well-meaning panelists reveal a real need for educating panelists in very basic stuff most of us know.  Secure funding – at least a half-time support person, and the ability to hire experts and get training – would help empower the Citizens Advisory Panel.
Who’s not blocked from the process? Industry. Nuclear Energy Institute, the leading trade group, and industry leaders will meet with the NRC on March 5th to discuss its “efforts to assist plants currently transitioning to decommissioning and discuss the current status of decommissioning rules.” The 1pm-4pm meeting is open to the public via teleconference. To join, before noon on March 4 contact William Huffman 301-415-2046 email William.Huffman@nrc.gov or Taylor Lamb 301-415-7128 Taylor.Lamb@nrc.gov

This Week’s Local Nuclear News

VT Attorney General Bill Sorrell has joined his counterparts in MA and NY in a petition, initiated by Vt Citizens Awareness Network (VCAN) and others, to have the NRC study Entergy’s finances on behalf of three Northeast reactors. MA, NH and Vermont worry that Energy’s precarious finances will result in it cutting corners that could imperil public safety.  VCAN has all the documents here.  On 02.26.15 MassLive covered the petition story here.
Vt.Digger  posted a story March 2nd that touches on the petition and Entergy’s response, the decommissioning trust fund, emergency planning and more.
Also on 02.26.15, the Dept. of Public Service announced it was appealing a recent decision by the ASLB (an NRC board on rules) as part of Vermont’s goal of keeping ERDS in place until after all the fuel is moved from the pool into storage. ERDS is the early response data system that uses real time monitoring, and currently alerts towns and the state within 15 minutes of an event. You can read about it on VTDigger, with attached appeal letter.

Entergy 

The quote of the week has to go to Fairewinds’ Arnie Gundersen, who gave a new moniker to Entergy VP Mike Twomey: “So-Sue-Me-Twomey.”
Mr. Twomey (rhymes with Too Me), in a Saturday AP story,  was backpedaling on his statement to VT legislature committees, when he insinuated that Entergy would sue the state and walk away if decommissioning  took more than 60 years. Now Twomey is saying not to worry, the money will grow. And if not, he gave “a hypothetical example: If during cleanup the site turned out to be more contaminated than believed when Entergy bought the plant in 2002, the company might seek to share the costs with the group of New England utilities that owned it previously.” (Wonder what GMP et al think of that?)
The state and many of us consider ourselves to be Stakeholders, in part because any excess funds leftover from decommissioning are split 50/50 between Entergy and ratepayers. We, the ratepayers, created the decomm fund fully through our paying into it. Entergy bought it in 2002 with the sale, and hasn’t added a dime.  Below is evidence that Entergy would rather fight before a federal board, FERC, than give us or the State an identity as Stakeholders. On February 6, VP So-Sue-Me Twomey wrote a letter to the State on spending from the decomm fund. It closes with this doozie:

Lastly, your letter also makes a numbers of statements regarding the Vermont ratepayers’ interest in any remaining decommissioning trust funds.19  Your letter fails to recognize, however, that the trust funds were collected by Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Corporation through wholesale power contracts … and that “[t]hese contracts … have been approved as rates by the FERC.20   As such, FERC has the authority to determine the disposition of any excess trust funds.21

In other words, Vermont Stakeholders, even after decommissioning is complete expect more law suits, more lawyers, and more regulatory hoops to jump through.

Martin Cohn, communications director at ENVY, wrote a letter to the editor of the Greenfield Recorder on Entergy’s transparency and strontium-90. Not to worry: “after April, 2016, Vermont Yankee will maintain a robust emergency planning zone commensurate with the reduced risk of an offsite release and types of possible accidents.”
Some people new to the issue ask: why don’t you trust Entergy? Entergy’s corporate rap sheet was updated this week on Corporate Research.org. .    As Nuclear Shut Down News’s editor Michael Steinberg “was gathering information for this issue, one word kept popping up: Entergy. He gives a brief overview of what’s happening at Entergy’s 11 reactors.  The top 5 nuclear corporations spent $30 million each year in 2013 and 2014, on lobbying the federal government and Congress.  (Entergy is the second largest. You can learn more about Entergy lobbying on OpenSecrets.org  – Center for Responsive Politics.

More NRC Meeting follow-up

This week’s The Commons Olga Peters covered the NRC Meeting.   In “Our Brand New Reality, an OpEd in the same issue of The Commons, Lissa Weinmann critiques the lack of a national waste policy, the NRC, and Entergy’s decommissioning plan.  “ We are living a brand-new reality in untested terrain guided by rules and laws that never presaged the gigantic national problem of built-up nuclear waste in communities — like ours — completely unprepared for the task.”  “Remove VY Carcass – Veto SAFSTOR.”  Arnie Gundersen’s comments on Entergy’s decommissioning plan to the NRC Meeting, on Fairewinds Entergy Education website.

Connecticut River

Cap’n Andy Larkin continues to follow thermal pollution issues on the Connecticut, and has been monitoring the ice on his blog https://vernonradiationsafety.wordpress.com/ . The WWLP TV had a recent story here, “Franklin County Sees a new sight: CT River Frozen Over.” One man said he hadn’t seen ice over the river in 30 years of living in Northfield, and Andrew Fisk of the Conn. River Watershed Council connects the dots to Yankee.
We like this headline: “Spineless attacks on nukes” – although the problem is a serious one. Due to warming water temperatures, jelly fish and other aquatic life are clogging nuclear power and other industrial intake and outflows.

 MA residents — Take Action:

The MA Dept. of Environment is defining “Clean Energy Credits.” They are using only CO2 emissions to define what is “clean.”  In other words, nuclear power generation will be considered “green.”  Please let your outrage be heard by March 23.

Email climate.strategies@state.ma.us or mail written testimony to:

Department of Environmental Protection Bureau of Waste Prevention,

One Winter Street – 7th Floor
Boston, MA 02108 Attn: Will Space

Public hearings will be held in three locations. Check the Pilgrim Watch website for details.

 

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NDCAP: EPZ & 2015 Priorities

Please attend the NDCAP meeting this Thursday, Feb. 26 (6-9pm, Marlboro Grad Center, 28 Vernon St., Brattleboro).  Here are some of the issues on the Agenda:

  • EPZ: A presentation by Entergy on the Evacuation Planning Zone with time for public comment. And you know we have comments. (Here’s some background).
  • The future of NDCAP.  So far NDCAP has been as inactive and ineffective between meetings as VSNAP was; this is an opportunity to see if NDCAP and citizen participation can become meaningful.  After five months chaired by the State’s Chris Recchia and dominated by state and Entergy priorities, the panel is under new leadership by a citizen rep, Kate O’Connor of Brattleboro and vice chair, Vernon’s Matin Langveld. This meeting is an opportunity to put the “Citizen” back in Citizen Advisory Panel.
  • Financial support: NDCAP has also suffered from an imbalance in resources: Entergy has them, NDCAP doesn’t. The legislation creating NDCAP says the state is supposed to pony up, and provide training and timely information to the Panel.

Here are some useful links:

02.26.15 NDCAP Agenda

DRAFT Changes to the charter for NDCAP  (NEW PDF download)

2014 NDCAP DRAFT report to the Legislature (NEW PDF download)

BCTV NDCAP Meetings on-line videos

 

 

 

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