Entergy and the NRC sure got a wakeup call at the NRC hearing Thursday. They were probably hoping activists had lose interest in the fate of Vermont Yankee once it was shut down.But 200 people packed the room and we Stakeholders asked a lot of questions the NRC cannot answer. There were so many great comments. Please send yours to us!
You can watch the full hearing on-line thanks to BCTV. This is such a great service by Brattleboro Community Access TV, and we are grateful for the quick turn around. [First hour are Entergy & NRC presentations. State comments start about 1:04:00 and public comments at 1:19:00.] Fairewinds Energy Education has posted a 7 minute video with transcript of Arnie Gundersen’s comments here.
Ready for another wake up call? This Thursday, Feb 26, NDCAP — the Nuclear Decommissioning Citizen Advisory Panel — holds its monthly meeting. On the Agenda: the future of NDCAP, and the Emergency Planning Zone. It’s our chance to put the CITIZEN back in Citizen Advisory Panel, and to remind Entergy we are not a nuclear sacrifice zone — keep the EPZ. Show up at 6pm at the Marlboro Grad Center in Brattleboro (and yes! it’s warm in there!). Details are below.
Since decades of speaking to the NRC as citizens hadn’t made much of a dent, we wore “STAKE HOLDER” name tags. Three dozen of us spoke. At least a dozen more signed up and left before the meeting ended at 10pm, perhaps driven away by the arctic temperatures in the room, the droning non-answers by the NRC & Entergy, by the rude, persistent heckler, or all three.
One thing was very clear: the NRC has not written rules for decommissioning Merchant Plants. They said that at the meeting. There are no rules. Writing rules takes years. So Yankee is a test case and we are the lab rats in a vacuum in time – and we must fill the vacuum. We must demand prompt, safe decommissioning with State and Stakeholder input, oversight, and financial resources. Not just for Vermont and our own communities, but for the other 40+ merchant reactor host communities around the US who will decommission someday. If we don’t step in to fill the void, the corporate owners and their tag-team of LLCS will fill it by slowing down Yankee decommissioning, lobbying for the weakest cookie-cutter regs, and protecting for their cash.
One inspirational moment of the night came from Bert Picard, pointing to the NRC:
“When the Senate voted 26-4 saying they didn’t want it, that didn’t mean a thing to you. When the governor didn’t want it, it didn’t mean a thing to you. So what are you? A government of occupation, right? A government of occupation — that’s what you are. I have no respect for any of you.”
Nancy Braus asked what would happen if Entergy went bankrupt, since there are four LLCs to protect the parent company. “They told the legislature this week they would walk away. Can you imagine what would happen to Vermont’s budget if we had to pay $1 billion dollars to decommission?”
Claire Chang sunk her teeth into Entergy & the NRC like a bulldog with a rope, then shook and shook and wouldn’t let go as they gave non-answer after non-answer in response to her questions on taking money out of the decomm fund to move spent fuel and the chance that Entergy will just walk away. “Nobody expected ENRON,” she said, citing the energy company that sparked a massive downturn in the economy. “We would not let Entergy walk away,” said the NRC, but they fumbled for what that really means.
Jim Matteau opened his remarks by announcing that Entergy staff were posting snarky tweets about state officials who spoke (many of the tweets have since been deleted).
Chris Campney asked: since the State is burdened with 60 years of oversight due to Entergy’s choices, what are the financial resources available to the state? This elicited two long winded non-answers which leads us to conclude: $0 for State.
Deb Katz, the opening act, hammered the NRC to keep the EPZ in place and protect the school children 1500 feet from the reactor, especially while spent fuel is being moved. Arnie Gundersen agreed. “There are 700 nuclear bombs worth of cesium in the fuel pool.” There is no reason in physics for SAFSTOR, and many reasons not to wait. We know there is strontium-90, cesium and tritium under the AOG building; take it out now or it will spread. The only reason to wait is financial, and Entergy will treat the fund as a cookie jar for any number of things.
Late into the night, Chris Williams tried to pass on speaking, but the crowd roared his name. “This is a train wreck waiting to happen,” he said of decommissioning merchant reactors. “What happens in Vermont is going to have a big impact on a lot of the cars farther down the train.”
Kevin Kamps of Beyond Nuclear drove 14 hours from Maryland to attend the meeting, got stuck in Brattleboro traffic for an hour because Exits 2 & 3 were shut down for bridge work, and was just taking his coat off as his name was called to speak. “Entergy has done nothing to address its problems other than lobby the NRC to weaken the safety regulations,” he said, “which the NRC does.” The folks in this room, educated citizens fighting Yankee for four decades, shut it down. “You have to use your same courage and vision and creativity to make decommissioning happen.”
We are writing an essay on the meeting to share with other Entergy reactor activists, and to post on our website. If you spoke, or took notes or photos and are willing to share, please email email@example.com
Here are the few media stories that we have found:
Charged Atmosphere (NEPR News) 2.20.15
Critics Decry Lack of Details TA 2.21.15
NRC Takes Comments on Decommm Plan (Commons 02.25.15)
Residents Seek Assurance (VTDigger 02.22.15)
“Our Brand New Reality – OpEd by Lissa Weinmann (The Commons 02.25.15)
On Friday morning, VT Public Radio cover the meeting twice with great statements by Safe & Green’s Nancy Braus and Bert Picard, and Peter Tusinski from the planning board for the town of Leyden, MA. But there is nothing on VPR’s website. did VPR get calls from cranky Entergy VPs? Are you a VPR member? Maybe you can call, too. (We can’t help it if 36 Stakeholders spoke against Entergy and only about four said nice things… just report the news, VPR!)
NDCAP: Thursday Feb. 26 @ 6pm Marlboro Grad Ctr.
Two important issues are on the agenda of this Thursday’s Nuclear Decommissioning Citizen Advisory Panel meeting, the EPZ and the future of NDCAP. February 26, 2015, 6:00- 9:00 PM, Marlboro Grad Center, Room 2-E, 28 Vernon Street, Brattleboro [Press release from State of VT has a link to download the Agenda. All past NDCAP meetings are taped by BCTV and available to watch online here.]
We can put the CITIZEN back in Citizen Advisory Panel. Please show up early – this is first on the Agenda. Last month the panel chose citizens reps to serve as Chair, Kate O’Connor of Brattleboro, and vice-Chair, Martin Langeveld of Vernon. This new leadership is an opportunity to get NDCAP back on track as a Citizens panel which will ensure “timely and relevant information is gathered and shared with the local and state communities” and to press for adequate financial resources to support NDCAP. So far, meetings have been dominated by Entergy, the NRC and the State. Citizen reps have been kept in the dark in between meetings; there was no orientation, no tour of the plant, no workshops by independent experts to the panel – all of which are listed in the charter.
Keeping the EPZ is an uphill battle. NRC has always let nukes shrink the zone after shut down. The State of Vermont — and all of us — have been pressing the NRC to keep the EPZ in place. Last week the NRC “established an Atomic Safety and Licensing Board panel to review Entergy’s application and the state’s request for a hearing.” Entergy will give a presentation on the EPZ at the NDCAP meeting Thursday, so we need to show up, ask questions, and demand accountability. Our valley will not be turned into a nuclear sacrifice zone.
In case you missed it, Entergy wants to:
“… reduce the 10-mile emergency preparedness zone around the plant to its actual footprint as well as its financial contributions to emergency management organizations in the EPZ. Entergy is also asking for a reduction in its offsite emergency notification system, elimination of hostile-action scenario planning and remove the state from participating in emergency response exercises. The change in the notification system would increase notification time from 15 to 60 minutes…” State demands hearing on EPZ 2.20.15 Reformer
On Wednesday, 7pm at the Northfield (MA) Elementary School, learn “how the 80,000 HP natural gas compressor station Kinder Morgan proposes to build in Northfield would impact our town and surrounding areas. Video & discussion by Stephen Wicks. Presentation by Rosemary Wessel of No Fracked Gas in Mass. Q&A.”
SAVE THE DATE — Saturday March 14 — an afternoon in Solidarity with the evacuees in Fukushima, Japan.
Email us if you want to help with our walk, vigil or presentation.