Aug. 20: Public Hearing on Water Permit

Please attend the hearing about VT Yankee’s thermal discharge permit on 8.20.14 (details below). Despite the fact that VT’s Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) acknowledges that Entergy used outdated computer analysis rather than real water sampling to determine the impacts of its hot water discharge into the river, ANR is granting that thermal discharge be allowed to continue because Yankee will only run for a limited time, until it stops producing power on December 29th.

This is an about-face for ANR. One year ago, ANR recommended a closed-cycle cooling with no intake or discharge of river water. But Entergy said closed cycle cooling was a deal breaker when it was putting together a deal with the State on Yankee’s closure.

The Connecticut River Watershed Council has written a good critique of the permit here.

Here is a link to our prior posts on the draft permit

 VT Agency of Natural Resources Public Hearing

When: August 20, 2014 at 6:00 PM

Where: Vernon Elementary School, 381 Governor Hunt Road, Vernon, VT 05354

Here is the link to the update.

Posted in Action, Legal | Comments Off

Out of the Fission Frying Pan

Safe and Green is working with others fighting extreme energy and global warming to create a truly safe and green energy future.  Member Ann Darling has written an excellent essay on the next chapter in Vermont Yankee, published in Energy Out of the Fission and Into the Fire?

For four decades we’ve been living with the insanity of boiling water with radioactivity to generate electricity. We don’t think replacing that by burning biomass and emitting particulates and greenhouse gases, pressuring our beautiful forests, and burning more fracked gas makes any more sense than nuclear.”


Posted in Decommissioning, Education | Comments Off

Mass. Solar: Just Raise the Cap!

Just Raise the CAP                 July 21, 2014

Thank you all for making calls and sending out emails! We are making progress!

There is still more work to do. H.4185 is still in House Ways and Means. It could still get voted out. And the other side is gunning up with big hitters. We are going need more voices from everyone.

We know that it feels like the messjust raise the red sox capage has changed but in truth the message is still the same. Amend H.4185 to take out everything that is wrong with it, or Just Raise the CAP!  (A amendment to raise the cap can be added to any other bill that will pass in the statehouse.)

It has come to our attention that H.4185 includes “model legislative policies” from ALEC. (American Legislative Exchange Council funded by the Koch brothers) The utilities’ proposals to diminish the value of solar net metering are lifted directly from the ALEC play book on Net Metering. The Chair of the ALEC Committee on Energy, Environment and Agriculture is also the Director of Public Policy at American Electric Power (one of the largest utilities in the USA) that owns one of the largest coal-fired power plants in the USA (located in Ohio) that sends pollution and acid rain our way.  In Ohio, the utilities, with ALEC guidance, pushed back green energy so hard they persuaded the state legislature to suspend Ohio’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS).

In Massachusetts, ALEC’s initial target is solar net metering. What’s next? Eliminating the RPS? Repealing the Global Warming Solutions Act? Arguing no compensation for environmental and social benefits for renewable energy at all? These are the ALEC tenets regarding renewable energy.

We must make the legislators aware of the actions by ALEC behind the scenes to put a stop to solar PV and renewable energy in the Commonwealth. We will not tolerate these shenanigans to keep coal, oil and nuclear power viable. Just Raise the Cap!

  Click here for a model letter you can send to your legislator and any of the members of the House Ways and Means Committee.

House Ways and Means Chair:    617 722 2990
Vice Chair:   617-722-2380

House Ways and Means committee members

House Representatives


Revealed: ALEC’s 2014 Attacks on the Environment

For more info

Thank you for your calls and emails.

Claire Chang and John Ward

Claire Chang

Solar Store of Greenfield

2 Fiske Ave

Greenfield, MA 01301



Posted in Action, Legal | Comments Off

Finally! Water Permit

VT’s Agency of Natural Resources is taking PUBLIC COMMENT on Entergy’s  Clean Water Act permit. Here is ANR’s press release with links to the draft permit & fact sheet. The public comment period on the permit has begun and has been extended through August 27th. There will be a public hearing, AUGUST 20th at 6:00PM at Vernon Elementary School, Vermont VT. Email comments to:

Seven years ago, Yankee’s permit to discharge water it uses to cool the reactor into the Connecticut River expired. There was little to no action until Entergy announced the closure of Yankee. Then, in April, ANR pushed for closed cycle cooling onlyBut Entergy and the state were in negotiations on closing and decommissioning. Thinly veiled threats by Entergy that cooling towers were a deal breaker were obviously effective. In the draft permit, ANR agrees with the Connecticut River Watershed Council that Entergy used bad modeling in its permit application, but ANR is letting the modeling stand with one change: it sets temperature caps determined by actual water sampling.  Any impact of the cap is likely to be pointless by the time the permit is in place in the fall, and the permit term will be brief, with Yankee closing in December.

Bob Audette of the Brattleboro Reformer covered the permit news, cross-posted on VtDigger. Richie Davis covers it in The Recorder here. You can read comments on the permit here in a piece by Sue Prent of Green Mtn. Daily.

Safe & Green, with the SAGE Alliance, organized two Flotillas on the Connecticut River to draw attention to Yankee heating up the river, killing fish and other life in it. Go here for background info from 2012 and a summary of our actions.

Posted in Action, Legal | Comments Off

Mass. Voters: Save Our Solar

 Please take action today, and share with Massachusetts friends and family:

SAVE OUR SOLAR — Action Alert to stop H.4185

Why we must act now – Call today!

Why we must act now – Call today!

July 15, 2014

H.4185, a complicated bill developed by and favoring electric utility and industry interests, would severely limit solar photovoltaic development in Massachusetts. The legislation is currently before the House Ways and Means Committee. To prevent passage before the end of July, we must urge legislators to reject this bill. We favor an amendment to raise the Net Metering Cap which allows continued small solar development and calling for an open process to plan our energy future in more detail. Not behind closed doors!

[Want more background? Go to our Save Our Solar Fact Sheet page, or download the SOS Fact Sheet (PDF).]

Why oppose H.4185? It would among other problems:

  • reduce benefits to residential installations while favoring large industrial solar installations and the utilities;
  • limit the size of solar PV systems that residential owners can install;
  • deny residential owners the ability to allocate any excess production;
  • make community shared solar projects uneconomical;
  • exclude residents served by Municipal Light and Power from solar incentives.


To stop the bill — what we need to do:

(1)  Forward this message to friends and any lists you may have, to let people know what’s happening. Attached is a SOS Fact Sheet with more information on H.4185.


(2)  Copy the short Action Alert below into a new message, with a personal statement from you and send it to the House Ways and Means Committee chair and vice-chair and your state Representative and Senator. The House and Senate links will give you the phone numbers for your representative and senator.

House Ways and Means Chair:    617 722 2990
Vice Chair:    617-722-2380

House Ways and Means committee members

House Representatives


Additionally, we need calls to these reps and senators, especially from their constituents. If you live in their districts, Please make a call early this week. Phone #’s are in the above links.

Rep Robert DeLeo,
Rep John Keenan,

Rep Lori Erlich,

Rep Anne Gobi,

Rep Carolyn Dykema,

Rep Frank Smizek,

Rep Denise Provost,

Rep Steve Kulik,

Rep Joe Wagner,

Rep Brian Dempsey,

Rep Paul Mark,

Rep Tricia Farley Bouveay,

Rep Jay Kaufman,

Rep Peter Kocot, Peter.Kocot@ma

Senator Eldridge,
Senator Wolf,
Senator Rosenberg,
Senator Brewer,
Senator Chang-Diaz,
Senator Downing,

Only timely action NOW can “Save Our Solar”.

************************ ‘cut and paste’ this basic alert into new message *******************

Because H.4185 would set back the positive development of small and community solar development in a number of discriminatory ways, I urge you to reject the bill in this session. Instead, please support a net metering amendment allowing solar to continue, with public policy input and participation:

•    Raise the net metering cap by this stepped schedule:

2015 12%
2017 20%
2019 28%

•     Establish a open, public process for a detailed analysis of Commonwealth Solar policy.

Thank you for your timely attention in this matter!

************************ ‘cut and paste’ this basic alert into new message *******************
For more information contact: Claire Chang




 ***      Daily Hampshire Gazette, July 13/14, 2014

William and Norma Coli: Bill before House would reduce affordability of PV systems in Massachusetts

*** Greenfield Recorder, July 10, 2014
New solar law casts shadow on small businesses
by Richie Davis

***      Commonwealth Magaziine, July 09, 2014 New solar legislation goes the wrong way
Bill would bar many from the sun’s benefits

          ***      The, comment by Giles Parkinson, July 6, 2014
Solar has won. Even if coal were free to burn, power stations couldn’t compete


***      Boston Globe Opinion, July 8, 2014
Equal and equitable access to solar
by David Enos and Worth Robbins

And from our neighbors in Vermont:

How One State’s Net Metering Expansion Offers A Model To The Nation

April 10, 2014 By Andrew Savage, Director of Communications and Public Affairs, AllEarth Renewables

“While battles rage with utilities taking on both solar customers and businesses around the country,Vermont has quietly expanded its net metering program by nearly four-times without so much as a skirmish.”…

Posted in Action | Comments Off

Open Letter to President Obama

July 2, 2014

Dear President Obama-

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has recently issued a spectacularly bad 4-1 decision regarding high level nuclear waste, stating that there is no reason why nuclear reactors need to move the high level toxic waste, the spent fuel rods, from open pools to dry cask storage. Even before the ongoing and unprecedented disaster at Fukushima, the spent fuel pools, especially in those reactors with a similar design to those at Fukushima, were known to be a source of grave danger to surrounding communities should there be a loss of electricity to the facility or an act of terrorism. The fuel pools at Fukushima continue to be a huge problem more than three years after the melt downs, requiring huge amounts of cooling water that then becomes highly radioactive, with no certain path to safe disposal.

This decision is clearly not based on science, but was made by commissioners reacting to pressure from the nuclear industry eager to save on their waste management costs. The four commissioners who wrote this uninformed decision then stated that this issue is to no longer be discussed by the NRC. Ever.

Alison Macfarlane, the chair of the NRC, is a recognized expert on nuclear waste. She was the dissenting vote. Two NRC commissioners’ terms are expiring this year. We are asking you, President Obama, to appoint replacements who base their decisions on science and protecting public safety, not protecting the nuclear industry.

Our very own Vermont legislature was prohibited from considering public safety in our state when discussing Vermont Yankee reactor, or when making laws. We were told that the NRC is the only body that can regulate nuclear safety. We need an NRC that cares more about the welfare of the American public than promoting the industry.


Nancy Braus for the Safe and Green Campaign, Brattleboro, VT

Posted in Action, Legal | Tagged , | Comments Off

VY Future – Biomass & Natural Gas?

If you follow Vermont Yankee news, you know that some days (hopefully after you’ve had your first cup of Joe), you open the paper or check your VY Google Alert and … SURPRISE! Cooling towers collapse. Electrical fires. Radiation leaks. Lying executives. VT Yankee is closing. Pipe bomb.

Compost happens.

This morning’s wake up call is a biomass proposal for the site after closure. With a natural gas component. The town of Vernon is already seeing tax dollar signs and is agog with delight. Read all about it in the Reformer.

Here’s a few first thoughts:

improved access to natural gas resources — either through rail delivery of (liquefied natural gas) supplies or by pipeline through neighboring Massachusetts

— would this be tied into the proposed Tennessee Gas pipeline that would run through hundreds of acres of private, locally owned land, wetlands, and other sensitive ecosystems?

— who’s excited about gas traveling the rails?

According to Patty O’Donnell, “There’s a lot that can’t be used, because it’s considered ‘dirty,’ and the NRC is going to regulate that it all be taken apart and moved away,” she said. “But the stack can be used, the cooling towers can be used. There are three or four different sites on that land right now (that could be used).

— “Dirty” ??? Radioactive waste is “dirty”?

— Happy for new jobs. But would you want to share work space with 900 tons of radioactive waste? Let’s do some research on environmental health and safety, shall we?

“The Shumlin administration is committed to doing everything possible to help Vernon and the region in a post-VY world,” Spaulding wrote. “The economic-development funds flowing from our agreement with Entergy should be helpful in that regard.

— Entergy’s eco-dev funds are dwarfed by this proposal’s “development costs estimated at $350 million for biomass and upwards of $1 billion for a hybrid facility.”

Bye-bye locally grown, truly green energy development. Hello, huge facility owned by some conglomerate of corporate investors, albeit fronted by a Vermonter.

Perhaps I am just being knee-jerk negative and should pour myself a soothing cup of herbal tea. Give it a read yourself. There may be silver linings beneath all that compost.

By Leslie Sullivan Sachs


Posted in Closure | Tagged | Comments Off

June 1 Update

Why were activists all riled up for the NRC’s public meeting in Brattleboro last week? Here are three reasons.

#1. The NRC didn’t talk about what went wrong at Yankee in 2013-14. This was supposed to be its “annual safety assessment” but, as Clay Turnbull of the New England Coalition wrote,

“Nowhere in print, on a screen or verbally did NRC present the ten violations of 2013 to the public. The violations repeatedly point to management making poor decisions, poor project planning, and cutting costs at the expense of safety.” There are recurring problems – like bad seals that allow water into electric cable housing. The NRC and Entergy are keeping their fingers crossed that it will hold together with just six months left til closure.

#2. The day before the hearing, the NRC declared that spent fuel pools are as safe as dry cask storage, so there is no reason to make companies move the spent fuel into dry casks.

This decision flies in the face of all evidence that dry cask storage is safer. Just look at Fukushima: the highly radioactive fuel in dry casks on site were unaffected by the earthquake and the tsunami, and three years neither the owners nor the international nuclear community know what to do with all the horrific problems created by destroyed fuel pools and widespread radiation from two explosions.

So why did the Commissioners (in bed with the nuclear industry) vote against prompt removal to storage? Money. New casks and storage pads aren’t cheap; the fuel pools are already there and paid for.

How does this affect Vermont Yankee? According to the Rutland Herald, two days after the local hearing:

“Christopher Recchia, commissioner of the Department of Public Service, criticized the decision by the NRC as “not helpful,” but said Entergy Nuclear had already made a firm commitment to move Yankee’s 3,000 spent fuel rods out of the spent fuel pool and into the casks. Recchia said the NRC decision “flew in the face of good science.”

The same article reported that, according to Entergy’s Rob Williams, “its timetable called for all the fuel to be moved out of the spent fuel pool by 2020, with “loading campaigns” scheduled for 2019 and 2020.

Let’s hope they stick to that plan.

#3. Also last week, the EPA weakened water rules for power plants. It will not require closed cycle cooling for existing power plants. Instead, owners will work with states to figure out how to “reduce the 2 billion fish, crab or shrimp that die each year in water intakes. Environmental advocates said that the agency had punted by leaving decisions with state regulators, and they threatened to sue to force tougher action.” The new rule is the result of 20 years of litigation; Riverkeeper, NRDC and 18 other environmental groups sued the EPA in 1993 to make power producer comply with the Clean Water Act. Entergy is one of the nuclear and coal industries that pressured the EPA against mandatory closed cycle cooling. They are pleased with the new rule.

Vermont has avoided decided on Yankee’s zombie permit for decades. This is a big disappointment to those of us who have taken to the river to get Yankee to use its cooling towers.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

NRC Wrap Up

16 NRC representatives faced a mostly hostile crowd of 60 local citizens on Wednesday evenin’s annual safety assessment of Vermont Yankee. Many who attended were feeling the sting of the NRC decision, announced the day before, that spent fuel could ‘safely’ sit in the over-crowded fuel pools rather than be moved to dry casks storage. VPR the Keene Sentinel and Brattleboro Refomer covered the hearing, as did Greenfield Recorder and the Rutland Herald (paywalled so we can’t share those here).

The NRC’s opening program included a simplistic ten minute slide show presentation on decommissioning. The NRC was clearly not prepared to respond to educated citizens who follow the issues closely, and have attended three-hour workshops of their own. Schuyler Gould of Barre, Lissa Weinmann, Clay Turnbull, Diana Sidebotthom and others came prepared with lists of recurring safety issues at the reactor; they were brushed off by the NRC.   Bill Dean, the Region 1 head administrator, was unprepared for the heat. His claim that he could “personally assure” us of our safety” was met with skepticism and accusations of lying.  He took that personally.

Here’s a typical scene, courtesy of the Keene Sentinel:

John A. Ward of Gill, Mass., asked panelists if they knew how many spent fuel rods the pool at Vermont Yankee was originally designed to hold. A brief delay followed as NRC officials consulted each other.

“Come on! You can do it!” Sachs taunted.

Rutenkroger finally said the number was between 500 and 600.

Ward then asked how many rods were there now, and what ratio it had increased by.

Rutenkroger said about 3,900 spent fuel rods are in the pool now, about seven or eight times as many as the pool had originally been designed to handle, although he assured Ward that each time Entergy proposed adding more rods to the pool, they had to meet certain NRC requirements to do so.

Undeterred by rules against signs and such, he Shut It Down ladies brought new toys to the hearing: cheap buttons bought at Staples that laugh loudly when pressed.

This is most likely the last time the NRC will be in town until it hosts a community forum to respond to Entergy’s decommissioning plan, in a couple years.


Posted in NRC | Tagged , , , | Comments Off

May 28: NRC Hearing Talking Points

NRC DOG & PONY SHOW May 28: aka Annual Assessment Meeting for Vermont Yankee. (6:30-8:30, BUHS, directions below). According to the Brattleboro Reformer (5.20.14) “The meeting will include a brief presentation on the decommissioning process followed by a formal question-and-answer session regarding plant performance and regulatory oversight topics.” If the NRC can talk about decommissioning, so can we. Without any formal role for citizens in the process, we need to take every opportunity to get in the record. With that in mind, we offer a few suggestions for talking points by those of us living in the evacuation zone.
  • We are the ones most at risk from a nuclear accident. The NRC should protect the public, not the nuclear industry’s profits.
  • People living in the evacuation zone deserve a seat at the decommissioning decision making table. The NRC should support the “Nuclear Plant Decommissioning Act of 2014,” a Senate bill put forth by Senators Sanders, Markey and Boxer.
  • People living in the evacuation zone deserve emergency planning protection during decommissioning.  The NRC should support the “Safe and Secure Decommissioning Act of 2014,” a Senate bill put forth by Senators Sanders, Markey and Boxer. It would “would prohibit the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) from issuing exemptions from its emergency response or security requirements for spent fuel stored at nuclear reactors that have permanently shut down until all of the spent nuclear fuel stored at the site has been moved into dry casks, which are a more secure and safe option for storage. “
  • People living in the evacuation zone deserve prompt removal of spent fuel from the overstuffed fuel pools, not the sixty year grace period allowed by SAFSTOR. The NRC should support “Dry Cask Storage Act of 2014″.

Read more about the three Senate bills here.

  • If you want to talk “safety” take a look at our VY Time Line  for 2014 and for Timeline 2013 for Yankee issues. Here’s a sample:
  • A conduit flood seal between an exterior manhole and the switchgear room failed. 2 feet of water is found in the conduit below the switchgear room, which are centers for electrical cables going from the control room to other parts of the reactor.  Two additional water infiltration areas were found later. NRC inspection found that water from a dredging operation did leak into manholes leading to “vital” switchgear rooms. The plant was closed at the time for refueling. (March 19-22 2013)
  • Four times in June and July, monitors registered “false positives” for high radiation. (July 25 2013)
  • Another radiation monitor had faulty readings in the week prior to published reports on Monday, August 26 2013. The NRC said in a letter to the state that “the most recent incident involved a radiation detector that was replaced in the last month.
  • A leak occurred in in a key safety system, the “high pressure coolant injection system,” and released a “small amount of radioactivity” within the reactor building, was reported to the NRC and was repaired. (Sept. 19 2013).
  • A low-level alarm of low oil levels was discovered to be a loose compression fitting on a recirculation pump’s motor oil reservoir. Power was reduced to 14% while repairs made. (Sept. 24-25 2013).
  • “On 11/7/13, it was identified that a missing conduit flood seal between an outside manhole and the West switchgear room compromised the flooding design of both the East and West switchgear rooms. Repair of the seal is in progress…. internal flooding of both Switchgear Rooms could affect (a.) safe shutdown, (b.) removal of decay heat, (c.) control of release of radioactive material and (d.) mitigating an accident.” NRC event notification report (Nov. 8 2013)
  • Entergy blames a contractor for failing to make repairs to missing flood seals (see March above).
  • VT Yankee blew a fuse in an electrical control circuit for the condenser steam jet air ejectors, requiring the reactor to reduce power for a few hours. (Jan. 21 2014)
  • NRC’s quarterly inspection report of VT Yankee (Feb. 6 2014)
    • includes a “green” low level safety violation for failing to make a repair in a timely manner (“the deficient flooding pathways designed to withstand a flood event.” See leaky flood seal, March and November 2013).
    • indicates reduced reporting (of 22.5%) by workers for the month before and month after the closure announcement. The state is also reviewing the report.
  • VT Yankee reduced power to 32% to repair two of its three feed water pumps because the seals were leaking. (FVT Agency of Natural Resources says Vermont Yankee is not in compliance with Clean Water Act or state water quality standards. Brattleboro Reformer. (April 8).eb. 24-25 2014).
  • On Nov. 4 2013, a worker called police when a ” ‘suspicious item’ that resembled a pipe bomb” was discovered. Upon arrival, the police officer recommended the bomb squad be called in, but instead “Entergy employees duct taped a piece of string to the pipe, stood back and pulled the string to see if it ‘went off,’ according to the report.” (March 21)
  • VT Agency of Natural Resources says Vermont Yankee is not in compliance with Clean Water Act or state water quality standards. Brattleboro Reformer. (April 8 2014).
  • Yankee burped radioactive steam Times Argus (April 30 2014

The NRC’s public hearing is at 6:30pm in at Brattleboro Union High School. It is in the Auditorium so they must be expecting a crowd.  There will be security bag checks at the door. Also, signs, banners, posters and displays affixed to any sticks, poles, or other similar devices will not be permitted in the meeting room.” Here is a Map link for directions.

Posted in Decommissioning, Emergency Planning, NRC, Spent Fuel | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off