Pro-Yankee and pro-nuke letters just keep on coming. A lot of bad “facts” out there.
In my opinion, it is not a good idea to turn the Vermont Yankee site into a so-called “green field,” whatever that means. The site is much too valuable as an electricity generating center or hub.
All of the essential infrastructure and components are already in place, most going back to 1972 and before. These include the transmission switchyard, substation, big transformers, cooling water intake and discharge structures, aquatic and terrestrial environmental assessments, geologic and seismic assessments, groundwater studies — the list could go on and on.
The site should remain ready to accommodate future electricity generation possibilities, including photovoltaic solar, natural gas, biomass, a new generation of advanced, passively cooled/safe, small, modular, standardized fission reactors, or maybe, someday in the distant future, a demonstration/test nuclear fusion reactor.
VY has been a good plant — low-impact, virtually zero carbon emissions for the past 40 years — but it is old technology and should retire and make way for the future.
The “greenies” want to put all of their eggs into the smart grid/renewables (wind and solar) basket, which I think is unwise.
Our near-term electric energy future, I believe, should consist of a wise mix of new-generation nuclear, solar, and wind. I am firmly opposed to coal-fired generation. The term “clean coal” is an oxymoron.
Dr. Daniel Marx
Here is just one week of Letters to the Editor, from July 2012:
Nuclear storage issues explored. Editor of the Reformer:
Earlier this month, the Federal Court of Appeals instructed the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to more fully analyze the environmental impacts of storing highly radioactive spent nuclear fuel at 104 nuclear reactors around the United States, including Vermont Yankee in Vernon. Nuclear opponents immediately concluded this decision can be used by the Vermont Public Service Board to deny the 20-year renewal of VY’s operating license.
This sort of tunnel-vision is indicative of the “win-at-any-cost” agenda of the anti-nuclear lobby. The safe storage, disposal or recycling of spent nuclear fuel should be of paramount importance to us all. Concerns about nuclear safety should supersede all other concerns. Simply shutting down a single nuclear generating plant like Yankee will do absolutely nothing to solve the problem of safely handling spent fuel.
The reason spent nuclear fuel is being stored at sites like Yankee is that the Department of Energy and Congress have totally failed in their responsibility under the Nuclear Waste Policy Act, passed in 1982 to construct a national spent fuel disposal facility and begin removing spent fuel from plants like Yankee. The Act set a deadline for the DOE to begin removing spent fuel from nuclear sites by 1998 — 14 years ago. This Act mandated that the first shipment of spent fuel was supposed to have left Yankee in 1999.
The feds spent more than 20 years and $5 billion developing a waste site in the nuclear weapons testing range at Yucca Mountain in Nevada. The Yucca Mountain project was killed two years ago by Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nevada, after he became president of the Senate. And who loudly and joyfully supported Sen. Reid in his NIMBY-driven quest? It’s the very same anti-nuke lobbyists who are now clamoring for the closure of Yankee because there’s no centralized federal disposal site for spent nuclear fuel.
Vernon, July 12
VY helps in fight against climate change
Editor of the Reformer:
I am writing in response to a letter about climate change and warming water temperatures (“On Water Temperature,” July 10). As Vermonters who are concerned about climate change and its effects, we must acknowledge a very important fact: Climate change is a central reason why Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in Vernon must continue to operate.
Vermonters need to be aware that closing Yankee, which is virtually emissions-free, will result in substantial increases in carbon and other harmful pollutants. Yankee’s closure would lead to the release of millions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year, because that’s just what happens when enough fossil fuels are burned. Fossil fuel plants would likely be Yankee’s replacement. Opponents of the power plant must face facts: Without nuclear power, carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Unless there is a non-fossil fuel replacement for the 24/7 nuclear power in place and making real headway, we lose ground environmentally by closing Yankee. Mother Earth will not be shouted down by nuclear opponents. She cares only about parts per million of carbon dioxide. Close Vermont Yankee, and she gets unhappier and unhealthier.
Support for Vermont Yankee Editor of the Reformer:
Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in Vernon has remained an economic powerhouse, pumping out benefits to this region while Windham County’s overall business economy has been heading downhill for years. Businesses such as C&S Wholesalers and the Steak Out Restaurant have left town or been forced to close, and I can’t remember when a new business last opened on Main Street. Closing Yankee purely on political grounds would be a catastrophe to the economic health to Windham County and the surrounding area.
A 2008 Northern Economic Consulting, Inc. study, “The impact of the VY station on Windham County and Vermont,” determined that there would be more than 1,500 additional high-paying jobs in Vermont if Yankee continues to operate between 2012 and 2031. Yankee is one of the largest employers in southern Vermont, and we can’t afford to lose these 1,500 jobs.
Yankee attracts young professionals to the area, me included. I moved to the area specifically for a job there. Like me, many of my co-workers have spouses who have brought their own skills to area businesses, have children in local schools, and participate in community activities and service organizations. And we all pay Vermont income taxes.
For me, Yankee means a steady job that supports me and my family, within a company that takes pride in the development of its employees.
Yankee benefits our community by providing access to reliable and cost effective electricity available 24/7, maintaining a workforce of more than 600 local residents, attracting more people to the area, and paying more than $6 million in annual state and local taxes.
The loss of these jobs, taxes, community donations, and low-cost electricity will be a further setback for Windham County and I am concerned that at some point, our communities will be unable to recover.
Chesterfield, N.H., July 12
Vermont Yankee EPZ vs. EBZ Editor of the Reformer:
There are a handful of signs out marking a so-called “Vermont Yankee Evacuation Zone.” Yankee does not have an evacuation zone, but does have a 10-mile Emergency Planning Zone, a Nuclear Regulatory Commission requirement. The 650 men and women who work at Yankee have earned a green rating for safe operations, which is the highest rating by the NRC. This rating reflects that Yankee is operating within normal range, and met the NRC’s clearly defined performance criteria for safe operations.
Some of these sign-setters must be confused, as their signs are set far outside of the EPZ limits, or within a 10-mile radius of the plant. They missed out in being included in the EPZ, but luckily they and their communities are part of the Vermont Yankee EBZ — the Economic Benefit Zone.
Of the 600-plus Yankee employees, nearly half are Vermont residents. Most of the rest are residents of New Hampshire or Massachusetts, some coming from as far away as the Holyoke, Mass., or Portsmouth, N.H. In addition to all employees being Vermont taxpayers, each of them also pays taxes to their hometowns, making their hometowns all a part of the Vermont Yankee EBZ.
Vermont alone receives more than $6 million in annual and local taxes from Yankee. Tax dollars are used throughout the state for various public projects, including the Clean Energy Fund, which is a benefit to all Vermonters.
Every 18 months, more than 1,000 contract employees come to the area to work at Yankee for a refueling outage. These supplemental employees come from all over the country, bringing business to local hotels, restaurants, and stores.
Each year, Yankee and its employees donate approximately $300 thousand to the community through sponsorships, grants, and employee pledges to United Way organizations. These dollars benefit community projects, school programs, healthcare, emergency services, clubs, and scholarships. All of these organizations and those who benefit from them are a part of the Vermont Yankee EBZ.
The EBZ reaches far beyond Vermont Yankee, much further than anyone would place a sign marking an imaginary evacuation zone. I am thankful to live within Vermont Yankee’s Economic Benefit Zone.
January also posted a letter about “VY Economic Benefit Zone” in VT Digger
Trojan Horse about energy Editor of the Reformer:
On July 1, a group of people opposed to Vermont Yankee protested at the plant gates; their protest included a hollow “Trojan Cow.” Some protesters pulled mock solar panels out of the cow, while others held whirligigs representing wind turbines. The cow sculpture included cow plop, representing “Cow Power” — farm methane. The theme was clear: Vermont Yankee will be replaced with renewables.
A Trojan Horse (or cow) is the symbol of deception. The event organizers chose this symbol. It was very apt. They attempted to deceive the public that closing Vermont Yankee would bring a burst of renewables to market. It will not.
Closing Vermont Yankee would mean buying more power from the New England grid. Grid power is approximately 58 percent fossil, 28 percent nuclear and 12 percent hydro plus renewables. Wind, solar and farm methane, together, total less than 1 percent of the power generated in New England. (This information comes from the website of the New England grid operator.)
What would closing Vermont Yankee mean? More solar panels? No. With or without VY, renewables are expensive, and they are not coming on line quickly. Fossil plants supply the majority of grid power, but many fossil plants only operate part-time. Closing Vermont Yankee would mean that fossil plants will run longer hours and make more power. If the protesters had been accurate, they would have pulled a model of a gas or coal plant from the Trojan Cow’s belly, not a cardboard solar panel.
However, the purpose of a Trojan Horse has always been deception. This protest lived up to that custom. It deceived people about their energy supply choices.
Wilder, July 9