Bernie Sanders and Nuclear Power

US Senator Bernie Sanders

US Senator Bernie Sanders

On Facebook, the question of where Vermont Senator & presidential candidate falls on nuclear power. He has long been an ally on many fronts. Here are some YouTube videos on his stand. They go back to 2007 but these are good overviews.

June 2011: Nuclear Power Safety, demanding the NRC intervene in Entergy’s law suit against Vermont, on the right of the state of Vermont to determine its own energy future, and on public safety.

March 15, 2012 Fukushima, the Nuclear Industry & Its Flaws

April 12, 2012 “Defend Democracy” rally, on the Brattleboro Common ( above photo)

You can read his speech from the Defend Democracy Rally here




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Keep the Pressure On

On Thursday, Sept. 24th, emergency response — a topic of huge concern to most of us living in the shadow of Vermont Yankee — is on the agenda for the Nuclear Decommissioning Citizen Advisory Panel (NDCAP). The Emergency Planning program will end next April. This will be an introduction into what we will be left with for the next five or six decades. On the agenda at 6:50pm:

Emergency Response During SAFSTOR and Decon with presentations ] Vermont’s Division of Emergency Management/Homeland Security, and by Dr. Bill Irwin of the Vermont Department of Health. There will be time for public comment following the panel’s comments.

A link to the full NDCAP agenda plus other background information is on our webpage here: Our comments, a timeline and links to news articles on the EPZ and emergency rapid response are here:

In January 2012, former Gov. Madeline Kunin wrote a commentary that goes to the heart of the problem. In 1985, she had “learned that the plant had falsified inspection reports for years and that thousands of unchecked parts may have been installed … Both plant officials and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission had kept me in the dark … How could I assure Vermonters that the plant was safe? That is the same question that is being asked today.”

Governors have the responsibility to protect the safety of their citizens. If the plant accidentally releases radiation, the governor takes immediate action, ordering an evacuation, issuing iodine pills. But the governor had no power to prevent an accident in the first place.

If you read her full post [VtDigger 01.26.2012], you will learn that her actions led to Yankee being shut down for 8 months for repairs. You and I know that the whole situation could have been kept under wraps had it not been for the pressure of informed, organized citizens.

We are in the same situation today. The state battles to keep us “safe,” demanding that the EPZ be kept in place until all the radioactive fuel is moved. The NRC simply states “it is safe.” We need to keep the pressure on.


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September E-Newsletter

Dear Friends of Safe & Green,

 No wonder Entergy is holding tight to Yankee’s decommissioning purse strings, raiding the cookie jar, and refusing to report any withdrawals. Today’s Boston Globe said Entergy’s “stock price has plummeted by nearly 30% this year.” The headline reads, “Pilgrim nuclear plant says it may shut down.” Pilgrim & 2 other Entergy reactors (in Arkansas) are at the very bottom of the NRC’s worst-performing reactors in the US — just one step above being shut down. Palisades had a scram a few days ago. Entergy announced it will decide by December whether to shut down Fitzpatrick. Read more with links and commentary on our post here.


9/18 Tomorrow: Climate Rally at the NH Democratic Convention. Veterans Memorial Park, 737 Elm Street, Manchester, NH 03101 8am-1pm.

Sept. 24 Nuclear Decommissioning Citizen Advisory Panel Meeting. On the NDCAP Agenda at 6:50pm “Emergency Response During SAFSTOR and Decon” with presentations & Q&A by staff from VT Division of Emergency Management/Homeland Security and the Dept. of Health. Following that will be a proposed process by which NDCAP will advise the state, and potential advisory topics. (VtDigger covered the meeting of the Advisory Opinion Subcommittee; we attended, and it’s a good summary). The NDCAP meeting is open to the public and there is time for public comment after each of the above items. Thursday 9/24, 6-9pm, Brattleboro Area Middle School, 109 Sunny Acres, Brattleboro (first right before the high school building).

Our friends at the New England Coalition have a big week coming up. Contact Carol Levin, for details.

Sept. 23 Brattleboro Community Decomm. meeting, 6:30-8:30pm. Brattleboro Coop

Sept. 25 – Nuclear Film Festival at the Sunnyside Solar Store, 499 Marlboro Road, West Brattleboro – by donation to benefit NEC. Starts at 10am, runs all day, come to any or all of the films.

Sept. 26 – 44th Annual Meeting, Strolling of the Heifers River Garden, Main Street, Brattleboro. No cost, open to all. 4pm social, 5pm business meeting, 6pm Guest Speak Gordon Edwards of Montreal, President of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility.


Safe & Green’s Bob Bady authored a letter thanking the Commons for their recent article on the real estate market in Windham County. The county saw a rise in sales this year. Brattleboro has taken a dip but realtors say many factors, not just VY’s closure, are in play. Bob noted that a prior gloom-and-doom OpEd by pro-nukers in the Commons “appeared in several different national publications, [was] an effort to say, ‘If a nuke closes in Illinois or Massachusetts, you’ll slide into the economic hell hole that Brattleboro has become.’ ” This week, the Commons and VtDigger carried a story entitled VT Yankee begins the long journey to ‘cold and dark.’

What About the Waste?

Entergy has applied to the Public Service Board of Vermont for a permit to build a second storage pad to hold additional dry casks to store 900+ tons of radioactive waste from the fuel pool. This second pad will be on top of an area that needs to be decontaminated – not covered up! The Windham Regional Commission has asked that an alternative location be found for the pad. You can read Windham Regional’s letter, “The Long View on a Near-Term Solution for Nuclear Waste” which explains their thinking. (A link to their filing to the PSB is at the bottom.) “Entergy assumes that the spent fuel will be picked up by 2052 …” by the Dept. of Energy, before the reactor and other buildings on site will be dismantled. What if no federal or interim waste facility is built or makes it through the regulatory process? We’ve watched the Yucca Mountain circus unfold for decades. If the casks are still there, decommissioning can’t happen.

Meanwhile, as one activist quipped, “The ostrich sticks its head in the sand.” The NRC has cancelled a radiation safety study and the NRC may change its public health radiation standards from the proven no safe dose (LTN) to the favorite theory of the pro-nuclear industry, hormesis: “a little radiation is good for you.”  Congressman Peter Welch gets down hammered the NRC on states’ rights, the decommissioning fund, and SAFSTOR. Read more with links and video on our post here.


 Safe & Green is supporting the fight against the KM pipeline proposed for Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Richie Davis, who covered Yankee issues for decades, is on the beat and a collection of articles in the Greenfield Recorder are here. Here’s what Safe & Green’s Ann Darling wrote after last week’s “Tell the FERC” meeting:

“It was not surprising to me that there are many parallels between the nuclear industry and its captive regulator and pipelines/FERC, but it was spooky and uncanny nonetheless. One person spoke about the parallels — we’ve fought with a big corporation and with the feds over nuclear for decades. We don’t trust them, and why should we trust TGP and Kinder Morgan and FERC? etc.

This is definitely the same battle we’ve been fighting but on a different front, with somewhat different content — it’s about democracy and local control and how we create and distribute energy without fouling our nest.

Keep the hydrocarbons in the ground, damn it!”

9/18 Tomorrow: Climate Rally at the NH Democratic Convention. Veterans Memorial Park, 737 Elm Street, Manchester, NH 03101 8am-1pm. A family-friendly march and rally at the New Hampshire Democratic Convention to show Presidential candidates the climate movement wants actions, not words. Rally and join us in fight against local pipeline fights too. It’s happening right here, our home. Stop the Kinder Morgan “Northeast Export Direct” (NED), the Stop Spectra Pipeline and Stop the Constitution Pipeline.

 Two pipeline resources include Climate Action Now, a western Mass group working on the Kinder Morgan pipeline and Northfield compressor station. and Mass Power Forward, a coalition of groups in eastern Mass., including Pilgrim Coalition and others against Spectra pipeline and compressor station in Weymouth MA (5 miles south of Boston, 25 miles of Pilgrim in Plymouth). Both post local actions, hearings, news, petitions and more.

Congratulations to Diane Turco and Cape Downwinders for making progress with MA Gov. Baker! Last Wednesday, Baker told reporters Pilgrim is safe. “Last Thursday, Ms. Turco and other members of Cape Downwinders traveled to the state house in Boston where they delivered a letter to … Gov. Baker [who] reversed his position and said he was concerned about the safety of Pilgrim Nuclear.” He wrote a letter of his own to Entergy. To learn more about Pilgrim, watch “East Meets West,” a panel hosted by CAN with speakers from Pilgrim, CAN and NIRS.  The video is here:

Finally, 25 years after the Clamshell protests at Seabrook closed one of two proposed reactors, city council members want the remaining reactor to shut down. Concrete is crumbling. They are “profoundly disturbed by the NRC’s oversight” of the plant and pointed to what they termed “their track record of making extremely high-risk decisions” rather than taking a precautionary approach to public safety.’

Safe & Green’s steering committee meets the first Monday of the month at 5:30. We start with a social pot luck and wind up around 8pm. We welcome new members. Email Leslie at if you are interested in attending our October meeting.

Peace and Solidarity,

Leslie Sullivan Sachs

For the Safe & Green Campaign




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Entergy in a Tight Squeeze

No wonder Entergy is fighting to use Vermont’s decommissioning funds for all the expenses it can squeeze out. Entergy’s “stock price has plummeted by nearly 30 percent this year.”  Entergy’s bills are piling up:

*** Entergy owns the 3 worst nukes on the NRC’s performance list. Pilgrim and its two Arkansas reactors are all one step away from shut down. As activist Mary Lampert says “Pilgrim is an antique reactor built when the Beatles sang on Ed Sullivan’s show.”  It costs Entergy a bundle to get a reactor back in the NRC’s good graces: Patriot Ledger 09.04.15. Update: 9/18: Boston Globe has a headline today. “Pilgrim nuclear plant says it may shut down.”

*** Entergy will decide in December whether to shut down Fitzpatrick merchant reactor because it can’t compete with cheap natural gas. Sound familiar? “Entergy closed a similar plant, Vermont Yankee, last year. The company’s cash flow has benefited from that decision, [Entergy CEO] Denault said.” But it could be a ploy: Entergy is in contract negotiations with the union, suing over property taxes, and looking for concessions from labor and local politicians scared by the loss of Fitzpatrick jobs. Or it could be that, once again, Entergy must admit it made a mistake when buying old reactors as merchants. 09 2015

*** Entergy’s Palisades reactor scrammed (automatic shut down) Sept. 16 “due to a failure in the turbine generator system — a non-nuclear, non-safety related system. ” (Just another old part, nothing to worry about, etc etc. Ignore the fact that the reactor is embrittled and leaks in Lake Michigan). Palisades had 5 unplanned shutdowns in 2011.

“These unplanned shutdowns and sudden “reactor trips” are like slamming the brakes in your jalopy of a car—not good for the integrity of systems, structures, and components going forward,” said Kevin Kamps of Beyond Nuclear.
Read about Beyond Nuclear’s battle with Entergy here.

*** An NRC investigation into a Christmas scram at the Riverbend nuke in Louisiana determined that Entergy’s training simulator was wrong so operators made errors. “the simulator failed to demonstrate expected plant response to operator input and to normal, transient and accident conditions to which the simulator has been designed to respond.”

*** Entergy is suing NY State over the state’s decision to subsidize the conversion of a coal burning plant to natural gas. Entergy claims it is unfair to subsidize competing energy producers. Yup, they believe only nukes should be subsidized. Capitol New York March 2015

*** What about Indian Point, the Entergy-owned albatross 20 miles from New York City? The site has been without a water quality permit from the State of NY since 2007. NY held 3 weeks of hearings in September. The NRC license for Unit 3 expires in December. Entergy is engaged in a massive PR campaign, aimed at NYC’s soccer moms and African Americans, saying asthma will increase without clean nuclear power.  None of the slick mailings say IP has had 5 transformer fires in 8 years; the most recent, in May, caused a spill of thousands of gallons of diesel into the Hudson River. Between the lawyers and public relations, Entergy must be spending a bundle.

On September 17, NIRS published a long but lovely piece on their Safe Energy blog:  The Great Nuclear Bailout List: Who’s a Pawn, Who’s Toast  

The reality is that when a nuclear utility–especially one like Exelon, Entergy or FirstEnergy, all of which have an ideological pro-nuclear fixation–says that it may close one or more of its reactors early, what it really means is that it wants a taxpayer and/or ratepayer bailout to make up for its losses. Only when that approach fails will it actually think about cutting its losses by closing a reactor.

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The NRC Sticks Its Head in the Sand

As one activist quipped, “The ostrich sticks its head in the sand.” The NRC has cancelled a radiation safety study in the US. It says it would cost too much to study health impacts of nuclear sites on host communities. What is the NRC afraid of? Confirmation of European studies which found significant impacts? Who will pay when the NRC protects owners’ profits, not the public? We will – through our health care insurance, and loss of our loved ones. by Paul Gunter

As if that was not enough, the NRC may change its public health radiation standards from the proven no safe dose (LTN) to the favorite theory of the pro-nuclear industry, hormesis: “a little radiation is good for you.”  Read this piece by Karl Gros2sman in the Ecologist which sums up reactions from anti-nuclear groups.

Meanwhile, VT Rep. Peter Welch questioned the NRC Commissioners on two issues: public participation in the decommissioning process, and the decommissioning fund. He said, “There is an inherent conflict between … Entergy, which wants to put as many costs on [the fund] as possible, and the community which wants strict limitations…” Welch said Entergy is seeking to have attorney fees and membership dues in NEI, the industry trade group, paid out of the fund. He said we want a “seat at the table” and “strict monitoring of the decomm fund itself.” Finally, regarding SAFSTOR, he said “site restoration is going to be postponed literally for generations, and there is a really big question as to whether or not we should try to proceed with decomm sooner rather than later, in 5 years rather than 50 years.” Read more and watch the video on



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Counting Our Blessings

As I write this, hundreds of thousands of people in Japan are evacuating as Typhoon Etau creates massive flooding. TEPCO announced that “The water also overwhelmed the drainage pumps at the Fukushima nuclear plant… Hundreds of tons of contaminated water flowed into the ocean…” An emergency has been declared for the city of Sendai, host of the nuclear reactor that started up last month. Click this link to read more: Japan Times 09.10.2015

Recently, the NRC admitted that it has not studied the effect of climate change on nuclear power stations, under questioning by a NY Congressman citing warming of the Cape Cod Bay outside Pilgrim. Pilgrim has been operating for 43 years; the bay has overheated 4 times, all since 2013. Entergy’s response: ““I don’t expect this to happen more often.” climate change nuclear

Back home, we are counting our blessings. The shad have returned to the River! Since the 1990s the shad had declined by 90%. Now that Vermont Yankee is no longer overheating the River to cool its reactor, the river is healing, according to David Deen (legislator, River Steward for the Connecticut River Watershed Council, and NDCAP member). He spoke to Vt Public Radio here: VPR’s Fish Stocks Rebound in Connecticut River Thank you, Flotilla floaters, boaters & landlubbers! Thank you, Harvey Schaktman, who spoke for the shad (here’s Shadman in the 2014 YouTube video).

Power plants use massive amount of water for cooling. Many reactors, including Vermont Yankee, were forced to reduce power or shut down in 2011 because the river water was too hot going into the reactors to cool them sufficiently. When the water is too hot going in, it’s too hot coming out.

Flotilla Heading to the Reactor50% to 65% of energy generated by nuclear reactors is waste heat. If it is not converted into electricity, something has to be done with that wasted energy. . The water at discharge can be as high as 105 degrees, shocking aquatic life. Yankee dumps 500 million gallons of heated water daily into the river. The thermal plume stretches for 55 miles, to Holyoke, Mass. This is most apparent in the winter; there is no ice fishing below Yankee until the Oxbow.

Read more on our Flotilla 2013 Action page.

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Critique of Holtec’s Dry Casks

Oscar Shirani worked for Commonwealth Edison & Excelon. He blew the whistle on the defects of Holtec’s dry casks. He was blacklisted by the industry. (He died in 2008.) Here is a summary of Oscar Shirani’s allegations against the Holtec dry cask, and support from Dr. Ross Landsman, NRC’s Region 3 dry cask inspector (the hand written notes are Shirani’s own):

Donna Gilmore has done a lot of research on dry cask storage of high level radioactive waste. Her research is posted on her webpage You can listen to a podcast of an interview with Donna on Vermont Yankee, released July 1, 2014 on Nuclear Hotseat podcast Donna’s interview begins almost half-way through. Host Libbe Libbe HaLevy runs through this week’s nuclear news first. If you are short on time, scroll ahead to under the S in the red LISTEN above it.

She looked at the power point by Holtec International’s CEO Dr. Kris Singh, presented at the last NDCAP meeting, and wrote us this email:

I found a lot of holes in Holtec’s slide presentation.

Holtec: A leak-tight confinement that renders the likelihood of radiation leakage in long term storage non-credible.
DG: ignores stress corrosion cracking of the thin canister.  Ignore there are air vents in the concrete overpack.

Holtec: No loaded canister of Holtec’s has ever leaked in long term storage
DG: There has never any in long term storage; notice he doesn’t mention whether any of them have cracks, since he cannot inspect them. And he doesn’t mention they cannot be repaired, even if they could find the cracks.

Holtec: As the pie chart shows, the HI-STORM MPC System is the most widely used canister system in the world.
DG: But not the most widely used storage system — thick metal casks up to 20″ thick are — not the Holtec thin (1/2″) canisters.

Holtec: In addition to the US, countries with active terrorist cells, such as Spain and Ukraine, have selected Holtec’s HI-STORM for their spent fuel storage needs.
DG: The system has not yet been installed in the Ukraine and they are using a different design, but one that is still inferior. Holtec has sold them a double wall thin canister system.  Outer is 3/8″ and inner is 1/2″ thick stainless steel.  They are still subject to stress corrosion cracks, so are not designed for long term use and are not inspectable or maintainable. And just because they are using them doesn’t make it a good decision or prove it will be good protection from terrorists.

Additional DG comments:
Not designed for inspection or maintenance of the concrete or the thin steel canister.No seismic rating for cracked canisters.No early warning monitoring system.  Will only know AFTER leaks radiation.Bolted lid thick casks have pressure monitoring system and double seals, so if there is any change in pressure there is instant notification, so the problem can be dealt with (e.g., change seals).  The ductile cast iron casks have two independent bolted lids, each with double seals.  If one seal or lid fails, the other is fully functional.  This is true defense in depth.  The Holtec thin systems do not have this.No mention that the Holtec thick over pack has air vents (needed for cooling the thin canister), so the single point of failure is the thin canisters.Regarding the concrete, I haven’t researched using concrete without rebar. According the the tech specs the concrete doesn’t provide structural support.

By enclosing the concrete in steel, you cannot inspect the concrete for degradation.   There are numerous degradations mechanisms for concrete.  The key is to be able to inspect the concrete.  The Holtec design makes that impossible.  I have a section on the nuclear waste page of my website that addresses concrete degradation of spent fuel storage systems.

A news article said there was 2″ thick steel.  Not sure what this applies to.  It doesn’t apply to the 1/2″ thin canister.  The Overpack has a 3/4″ steel exterior and a 1 1/4″ steel interior. Is this what they were referring to? See FSAR (PDF page 156).

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The NRC’s Magic Wand

Here is our latest e-newsletter. If you would like to be added to our e-mail list, fill out a contact form and let us know.

Dear Friends of the Safe and Green Campaign,

The last weekend in June has provided an opportunity to write to you without distraction. It was a powerful week of change in the US. Here’s what’s going on in our little corner of the world.

The NRC Magic Wand of Exemption

If you’ve been following along, you know that there aren’t any rules for decommissioning. Instead, the NRC waves its magic wand and lets reactors stop following the rules for operating. This is pretty dern frustrating for citizens and the State. At a May pubic meeting, Commissioner Chris Recchia called the NRC decommissioning process “stupid, stupid, stupid.”

At this week’s NDCAP meeting (below), Commissioner Chris Recchia said, “There is a blatant inconsistency between what the regulations say the Decommissioning Trust Fund can be, and what the NRC is actually allowing” such as using the fund for emergency planning, taxes, and now spent fuel. While the NRC’s waiver of its own regs is consistent with what is being done at other closed reactors, Recchia said “it’s unbelievable what the NRC is doing.” He’s working with the Attorney General and “fully expects that Vermont will lead the charge, with other states” in taking on the NRC’s decommissioning rules. “The NRC process is broken and needs to be fixed.”

Why is the State of Vermont spitting mad? This week, the NRC took out its Super Magic Wand and waived one of the few rules on its decommissioning books: use of the Decommissioning Trust Fund.

The NRC rules defines decommissioning as the “safely removing a facility or site from service and reducing residual radioactivity to a level that permits” either unlimited or limited use of the site. Small problem: there is nowhere to move the radioactive waste to. 70 years of nuclear technology and there is still no solution to what to do with the waste. So, last year the NRC decided, in its Waste Confidence decision (aka ‘Waste Con’ as in con job), that highly radioactive nuclear waste can safely live at nuclear power sites for 100 years. This leaves 900 plus tons of waste here in Vernon, Vermont. How is storing, monitoring and guarding it paid for?

By waiving the NRC’s Super Magic Wand, Entergy can use the decommissioning trust fund for all those expenses. Entergy has a $145 million line of credit to move the fuel (which it will recover from the DOE). Once that’s gone, the NRC will let Entergy take up to $223 million from the DTF to manage the fuel. That $223 is about 1/3 of the entire DTF as it now stands.

To add insult to injury, the NRC said Entergy could take it out of the fund without the usual 30-day notice to the NRC. So get ready for a RAID on the DTF you and I built with our electric rates until Entergy came along.

Now, with only 2/3 of the funds (left to its chances on the stock market), when will the actual decommissioning of Yankee happen? Entergy swears it will do it as soon as there is enough money … until then, its putting the reactor in mothballs and leaving a skeleton crew to guard the waste.

(Here’s a scary scenario: Entergy builds the storage, moves all the fuel into the dry casks, then declares bankruptcy. With all the levels of LLCs between Vermont Yankee Nuclear and the mothership in New Orleans, no one knows what would happen.)

Green Mtn. Daily 06.22.15: NRC Never Fails to Disappoint Vermonters

Reformer 06.26.15: VT Official: Yankee Trust Fund Process is Broken

Rutland Herald 06.19.15: NRC Sides with Entergy on Yankee Trust Fund

Rutland Herald 06.20.15: Vt Seeks Regional Support to Challenge the NRC

Vt Digger 06.18.15: NRC says Entergy can use DTF for Spent Fuel

Nuclear Decommissioning Citizen Advisory Panel (NDCAP)

This past Thursday the Nuclear Decommissioning Citizen Advisory Panel met in Brattleboro. 30 citizens showed up. So did the CEO and President of Holtec International, Dr. Krishna Singh and his entourage. [Read more about him here.] The meeting facilitation was good, with ample time for questions from the public.

The two Entergy VPs aren’t talking much (methinks their lawyers have told them to lay low while Entergy is before the Public Service Board).The other members are feeling more confident about making their voices heard. They grilled Joe Lynch, Entergy’s presenter, on its latest (unannounced, June 10) hostile action drill. (NDCAP Final Presentation June 25 2015 power point under the NDCAP tab).

State Rep. David Deen was frustrated. “We have no clue what went on, and what people did. Did you drill the emergency alert system? Did the sirens go off? I haven’t heard anything about it.” Commish Recchia is “growing less and less patient with the NRC’s approach to spent fuel – it’s as safe in the pool as in dry cask storage, but you need to do two hostile action drills?”

Chris Campany of Windham Regional Commission said that on August 13, some towns in the EPZ will come together to talk about how to operate without radiological alert funding.

Dr. Singh’s presentation was what one would expect from a well-paid CEO of a huge international corporation. He was a salesman: slick, quick and dismissive of any danger. You can download his powerpoint from Entergy’s page under the NDCAP tab, here: HI-STORM-MPC-Storage-System-for-Vermont-Yankee-R4

  • These Holtec 100 Storm casks will never Look, welds not gaskets! They are the most robust in the industry. (I counted 5 uses of the word Robust in the power point but may have missed one or two).
  • They are good for 300 years! (“You can’t reassure me until you’ve lived that long, said Deb Katz. She pointed out that Holtec casks have only been in service for 15 years.
  • High burn up fuel? None at Yankee … oops, oh, you do use HBF? Ah well, no problem. Our casks can handle it.
  • Singh was so glad we asked about the shipment of casks in 2006 which had not undergone helium leak rate tests required by the NRC. Singh said, essentially, our tests are better than the NRCs, the NRC doesn’t require those tests anymore. (According to the Reformer 08.13.09: “Holtec’s decision to eliminate the test was a violation of NRC regulations … We required that they take immediate corrective actions.” The AP did a good analysis and also noted that Entergy “was not doing as much radiological monitoring of the dry casks as was required by an agreement with the state…the failure to establish a radiation monitoring process was due to ‘a lack of formal tracking of such state commitments,’ according to Vermont Yankee.”
  • Speaking of which, Nancy Braus grilled him on radiological monitoring. Singh said that’s not Holtec’s job. They make recommendations, but it is up to Entergy and the NRC.
  • It was reassuring to hear him say that Vermont’s radiological levels are the lowest he’s encountered, lower even than European limits. (According to Holtec, the casks will emit 5 ML of radiation – lower even than terrestrial background radiation.)

You can read press coverage about the meeting by the Keene Sentinel and in some of the articles above.

At the Diablo Canyon reactor in California, the owners violated NRC specifications for loading dry casks for SIX YEARS before the owners or NRC noticed. They loaded casks 19 times before somebody caught on. [06.24.15: Read more about it here and in their local newspaper here.] “PG&E did not load 19 of its 34 used fuel dry storage casks according to a technical specification made by the casks’ manufacturer, Holtec International, regarding the proper mixture of older and newer spent fuel to ensure proper heat dissipation.” This included high burnup fuel.

The owners, PG&E, said the problem was “administrative in nature, not safety related… The specification was outdated and has been removed.”

This is the same line Dr. Singh gave about the missed helium test for Yankee’s casks. As Ray Shadis said back then, there is “a trend in the nuclear industry to operate on the belief that safety margins are excessive and that one can reduce them or take chances in not going the full distance.”

The NRC and the industry have become so used to handling ‘SNF’ that it has become just another ‘product.’ For our safety and worker safety, we need oversight that is conscious that this is 900+ tons of highly radioactive waste. We are obviously not going to get that from Holtec, Entergy or the NRC.

 Advisory Panel Preparing to Advise

Following the Holtec presentation and Q&A, the panel took on discussion about how to advise the state, what process to use, and what topics to cover. Dr. Bill Irwin, VT Dept. of Health, summed up our thoughts: “We’ve been reacting, going through growing pains for the first six months. Now we are at a great point to do our core mission, advising the state.” Irwin submitted a list of topics the panel could consider for the PSB case. Kate O’Connor, the chair, spoke with the state’s attorney on the PSB case on the pad, Aaron Kisicki, who said comments from the panel would be given significant weight by the PSB. David Mears, Commissioner of the VT Dept. of Environmental Conservation, said that the panel needs to hear from independent experts; only industry experts have spoken. The panel renewed its contract with consultant Catherine Morris, who may be able to help with process. Kate O’Connor, David Deen, Chris Campany, and Jim Matteau volunteered to form a committee.

The panel then heard more comments from the public, including Susan Lantz, Peter Vanderdoes, Amy Shollenberg, Frances Crowe, Howard Shaefer, Bert Picard, and Clay Turnbull. Clay suggested that the panel think from a new perspective: “what is the ultimate best use of the site? Actions we take now will affect that. Is the best and highest use to have a high level radioactive waste site on that beautiful site in Vernon, on the banks of the river? Or is there a better piece of property for the waste?”

After taking the summer off, the next NDCAP meeting will be September 24. The Massachusetts Dept. of Environmental Protection will make a presentation on the decommissioning of Rowe Yankee.

Safe and Green Campaign is not taking the summer off. Our next steering committee meeting is Monday, July 6 at 5:30pm, starting with a pot luck supper. Email for directions if you would like to join us.

Since we last wrote two weeks ago, we:

– Joined Rising Tide & on June 22 for their demo at the Public Service Board. 100+ folks marched and rallied, and a bunch of hardy young folks camped out overnight next to the PSB office. We were calling on the PSB to not allow a gas pipeline planned to run down the western corridor of Vermont. The project is not safe, overbudget, and the company is taking land by eminent domain. Safe & Green and Post-Oil Solutions members traveled up from Windham County in solidarity. It was great to march with fellow Safe & Green activists from central Vermont, Vt Yankee Decommissioning Alliance (VYDA) and Nuclear Info Research Service (NIRS). You can see photos and read about it on our Facebook page here (even if you are not a Facebook member).

– Joined the New England Coalition and other allies for our third meeting on decommissioning. The next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, July 1 at the Brattleboro Food Coop Community Room 6:30-8:30pm.

– Updated our website’s Decommissioning Resources page, and our Action Center page with CAN’s list of bills before the Mass. Legislature on nuclear energy issues. Please also check our website regularly for posts on the homepage. . For daily posts on Yankee, nuclear power in the US and the world, and the latest good news on renewables, Like & Follow our Facebook page


Leslie Sullivan Sachs for the Safe & Green Campaign

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NDCAP: CEO of Holtec Coming to Town

Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel (NDCAP) will meet 6-9pm on June 25 at Brattleboro Area HIGH SCHOOL Multi-Purpose Room (usual location – not previously stated Middle School), Fairgrounds Road, Brattleboro, VT 05301. Open to the public.  There is time on the agenda for public comment.

Primary topics: (1) Presentation by CEO &  of HOLTEC International (dry cask manufacturers);  (2) Potential Issues for NDCAP Advisory Opinions The NDCAP  webpage is here. 

NDCAP Agenda 06.25.15 Meeting Agenda – FINAL(1)

NDCAP Advisory Opinions Potential Issues- as of 6.15.15(1)

The CEO of Holtec, Dr. Singh makes $200 million a year and has made a sweet [yet suspicious] deal with NJ Gov. Chris Christie. [Read about that in the Guardian here.]  Dr. Singh made a presentation to the San Onofre citizen advisory panel. You can watch a clip on YouTube here, in which he states:

“…It is not practical to repair a canister if it were damaged… if that canister were to develop a leak, let’s be realistic; you have to find it, that crack,  where it might be, and then find the means to repair it. You will have, in the face of millions of curies of radioactivity coming out of canister; we think it’s not a path forward…

A canister that develops a microscopic crack (all it takes is a microscopic crack to get the release), to precisely locate it… And then if you try to repair it (remotely by welding)…the problem with that is you create a rough surface which becomes a new creation site for corrosion down the road.  ASME Sec 3. Class 1 has some very significant requirements for making repairs of Class 1 structures like the canisters, so I, as a pragmatic technical solution, I don’t advocate repairing the canister.”

Instead Dr. Singh states

…you can easily isolate that canister in a cask that keeps it cool and basically you have provided the next confinement boundary, you’re not relying on the canister. So that is the practical way to deal with it and that’s the way we advocate for our clients.

Donna Gilmore of San Onofre Safety offers this critique of his remarks:

“However, there are many problems with Dr. Singh’s solution of putting cracked and leaking canisters inside [transport] casks.

  • There are no NRC approved Holtec specifications that address Dr. Singh’s solution of using the “Russian doll” approach of putting a cracked canister inside a [transport] cask.
  • NRC requirements for transport casks require the interior canister to be intact for transport.  This NRC requirement provides some level of redundancy in case the outer cask fails. Does this mean this leaking canister can never safely be moved?  Who will allow this to be transported through their communities? How stable is the fuel inside a cracked canister?
  • What is the seismic rating of a cracked canister (even if it has not yet cracked all the way through)? The NRC has no seismic rating for a cracked canister, but plans to allow up to a 75% crack. There is no existing technology that can currently inspect for corrosion or cracks. The NRC is allowing the nuclear industry 5 years to develop it. It is likely to be inadequate due to the requirement the canisters must be inspected while in the concrete overpacks.
  • What is the cost for the transport casks that will be needed for storage?  Will they be on-site? Where is this addressed? Transport casks are intended to be reusable because of their higher cost. How and where will they be stored and secured on-site?
  • How will the leaking canisters be handled by the Department of Energy at the receiving end of the transport?  The DOE currently requires fuel to be retrievable from the canister.”

End of SONGS critique.

Kevin Kamps of Beyond Nuclear had this to share about Dr. Singh:

Over a decade ago, Oscar Shirani, the Commonwealth Edison/Exelon whistleblower on Holtec’s dry storage casks for high-level radioactive waste, told me that Dr. Kris Singh, CEO of Holtec, offered him a bribe, if he would shut up about the problems with Holtec dry casks. Shirani said that Singh said to him that Shirani could decide his own salary, and come to work at Holtec. Shirani refused the offer. Shirani was then run out of his own company, and blacklisted altogether from the U.S. nuclear power industry for the rest of his life. Shirani passed away, in his early 50s, in late 2008, just six days after being diagnosed with brain cancer.

Here is a summary of Shirani’s allegations against the Holtec dry cask, and support from Dr. Ross Landsman, NRC’s Region 3 dry cask inspector (the hand written notes are Shirani’s own):

—Kevin Kamps, Beyond Nuclear




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Pilgrim: Work Together to Shut It Down

Yesterday, we joined the MA Downwinders and Cape Downwinders for the last leg of the March for the Children, from Dewey Square to the Statehouse in Boston. As we marched, I was reminded of how far the fight to shut down Vermont Yankee has come since our own Step It Up to Shut it Down walk from Brattleboro to Montpelier in January of 2010. When 300 walkers presented a petition at the VT Statehouse on that snowy day, we did not know that one month later the VT Senate would vote not to extend Yankee’s license by a vote of 26-4.  We did not know that Yankee would continue to run past March 21, 2012 without its state permit, nor that the next day 1,500 citizens would take a day off from work to march  to Occupy Entergy HQ. Nor that a few weeks later, Gov. Peter Shumlin and US Senator Bernie Sanders tell a crowd of 1,000 “SHUT IT DOWN“.  And we certainly did not know that two weeks after winning its lawsuit to overturn the state legislatures’ right to vote on relicensing, Entergy would announce it would shut it down.

Our efforts from the January 2010 walk through the closure announcement in August 2013 were successful in part because citizens groups, large and small, worked together and presented a unified message: SHUT IT DOWN. Our messages to the legislature, in the streets, in direct action, at local town meetings, in OpEds, in public testimony, and in educational workshops was consistent.

Pilgrim crowd

100 Pilgrim protestors wearing neon green tees filled the Gardener Auditorium in Boston yesterday.

There are many citizens’ groups on the mainland and on Cape Cod working on Entergy’s Pilgrim reactor.  Some of them vow to shut it down while others say they work to “make it safer.” For example, from the Pilgrim Coalition:

dedicated to raising awareness of – and reducing – significant risks to public safety, health and our environment arising from the continued operation of Pilgrim

The Pilgrim reactor is on the NRC’s list of worst performing reactors. Its Clean Water Act permit expired 19 YEARS ago. Its emergency planning is a farce: when an accident occurs, both bridges to Cape Cod will be closed, trapping residents in a radiation zone while Plymouth residents flee. As former Gov. Michael Dukakis said yesterday, “But the fact of the matter, folks, is that it’s impossible to meet the federal standards for evacuation plans for any of these locations. It’s simply impossible.”

Nancy Braus of Safe & Green Campaign

Nancy Braus of Safe & Green Campaign

Yesterday, a dozen speakers give evidence that Pilgrim must shut down. Then Nancy Braus of Safe & Green got up to speak and the crowd went nuts. Nancy walked all four days with the Pilgrim activists. As she shared Yankee victory stories, one lesson was clear: to succeed, the citizens of Massachusetts must come together with one voice to shout from every town: Shut Pilgrim Down.

Just IMHO, by Leslie Sullivan Sachs, Safe & Green Campaign

Wicked Local 06.17.15

MetroBoston 06.16.15

WGBH Radio Boston

the Rally’s Speakers on our Facebook page



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