Here are a few letters to the editor by Safe and Green Campaign members published recently. Please write a letter today to your local paper or post on a blog. Thanks!
Your lead headline of October 29th, “Lawmakers discuss future without VY,” has moved me to write to you once again. The fact is, we will not be without VY for a very, very long time. Just because within a year that reactor is going to stop producing electricity – and highly radioactive waste – doesn’t mean we will be without VY. We are going to have to deal with the decontamination process, which will be almost exclusively controlled by Entergy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and it will take decades. We are going to have to deal with that radioactive waste sitting on the banks of the Connecticut River. If we’re lucky, Entergy will take it out of the spent fuel pool sometime in the near future and put it into dry casks. In Fukushima, the spent fuel pools are what caught fire and are still leaking, while the dry casks withstood the earthquake and tsunami. But make no mistake — we, the citizens of this community really do not have any say about what Entergy does. And even if they agree out of the goodness of their hearts to go the dry cask route, well — they’ve lied before.
Many people have said to me, “aren’t you glad it’s over. Aren’t you glad we don’t have to worry about it anymore.” They do not understand, or perhaps they do not want to understand, that nuclear waste is, for all intents and purposes, forever. It might get shipped to some other community, and it might not. It’s not something I would wish on us or on anyone. But there it is and will be for a long, long time, in all of its unimaginably dangerous glory.
January 26, 2013
To the editor, Brattleboro Reformer;
I am writing in response to Beatrice DeFeo’s letter published 1/24/13. Ms. DeFeo thinks anti-nuke protesters should “go home” and asks if we don’t realize what Vermont Yankee does for business and for local charities.
First of all, as an anti-nuke protester and a Vermonter, I want you to know that I AM home. This is my home. Don’t tell me to “go home,” because I’m already here. And so are all the protesters from Massachusetts. Just because they happen to live on the other side of an artificial border doesn’t change that. Some parts of Massachusetts are closer to Vermont Yankee than Brattleboro, where Ms. DeFeo lives.
The fact that we are home is precisely why we are protesting. Because we believe our homes to be in great danger from Vermont Yankee’s continued operation and the creation of ever more spent nuclear fuel that has the potential for contaminating and killing us and our beautiful home. Because we believe democracy and the Vermont way of doing business are in great danger because of the unscrupulous, dishonest dealings of VY’s owner, Entergy Louisiana.
In answer to Ms. DeFeo’s question (“Don’t you realize…what Yankee does for business here and what it gives to charities?”), my answer is “yes.” I do realize that the closure of Vermont Yankee will bring about changes in the local economy, and that they could be difficult; it’s a big employer. And as a social worker, I am very much aware of the amount of money that VY gives to local charities.
Here are my questions: Do you accept that VY has to close someday? Do you recognize that the workers at VY have gotten the longest lay-off notice in history (40 years)? Do you acknowledge that nuclear power has inherent risks? Do you know what is happening now in Japan as a result of the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear power stations? Have you taken the time to educate yourself about Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, or Brookhaven National Labs, to name a few? Do you honestly, in your heart of hearts, think that this nuclear power facility can never leak, spew, or cascade radioactivity into our beautiful homeland? (It already has leaked, of course, and the older it gets, the more likely it is to have more catastrophic problems.)
The risks that we all face are far bigger than the risks of losing local jobs, even hundreds of jobs. They are far bigger than the risk to local charitable organizations of not getting money from VY. If VY goes, it will contaminate a huge area, for generations. We – anti-nuke, pro-nuke, middle-of-the-roaders — will not have a home anymore.
I have noticed that pro-VY folks tend to focus on shorter-term consequences (loss of jobs and support for non-profits), and that anti-VY folks tend to emphasize longer-term issues (radioactive contamination, threats to the right of Vermont to decide what happens in its borders, damage to the ecology of our river). It’s not that one is all wrong and one is all right. It’s just that the shorter-term problems can and should be planned for so that their impact is lessened. The longer-term problems cannot be planned away; they need to be avoided at all costs.
I love my home, and I will defend it.
Ann Darling, Brattleboro
Editor of the Reformer:
We want to hear your voice. The Vermont Public Service Board is taking public testimony about whether Entergy Corporation should be re-issued a Certificate of Public Good, which would give it Vermont’s stamp of approval to extend its operating license for Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant another 20 years. Monday night, Nov. 19, at 7 p.m., at Brattleboro Union High School and many other Vermont Interactive Television sites across the state, members of the public can come and tell the Public Service Board what they think.
Entergy Corporation has repeatedly lied and broken promises to the state of Vermont. It’s overheating the Connecticut River, making it uninhabitable for many species of fish. Right now there is four times more spent fuel on that one site than all the Fukushima plants combined. It’s plan is to continue storing high level radioactive waste on the banks of the Connecticut river for the indefinite future. We certainly do not want to create 20 more years worth. Vermont does not buy their power, and they produce only 2 percent of what is available on the New England grid. If it shut down today, our power supply would not be affected at all.
It is time to invest in renewable and sustainable energy. That is the best future for Vermont. Combined with conservation efforts, it would create far more jobs than continuing the operation of this reactor (and many of the jobs at Entergy VY would continue for the next 10 to 15 years through the process of decommissioning).
Don’t let this rogue corporation drown out the voices of the people and our duly elected officials. Come out and have your voice heard.
Betsy Williams, Westminster West, Nov. 12
To the Editor [Brattleboro Reformer]:
The November 8th article covering last Wednesday’s Public Service Board hearing in Vernon is misleading. The article presents a fair description of the purpose of the hearing, which was to allow citizens to present testimonies regarding whether or not the Public Service Board should grant the Entergy Corporation a “Certificate of Public Good” that would legally authorize the company to run the Vermont Yankee nuclear reactor for twenty years. However, it goes on to grossly misrepresent the numbers of vocal Vermont Yankee supporters and opponents that were present that evening.
While the article states in its opening paragraph that “supporters of the continued operation of Vermont Yankee outnumbered opponents by a margin of three-to-one,” the actual tally of speakers broke down as follows: of the 73 total speakers, 39 members of the public, most of them employees at Vermont Yankee, spoke in favor of granting Vermont Yankee a twenty-year extension; 34 members of the public, none of whom worked for the company, spoke against granting the extension. The inaccuracy of The Reformer’s report should be acknowledged and publicly corrected, for it deceptively suggests that a majority of citizens are in favor of keeping the aging nuclear reactor in operation.
The Entergy Corporation is actively working to paint itself a positive reputation in countless ways—including by packing public hearings with Vermont Yankee workers—as it tries to extend the reactor’s license and suppress the rights of the state of Vermont. These efforts, however, are desperate cover-ups of the fact that Entergy cannot be trusted; since the Louisiana-based corporation bought Vermont Yankee in 2002, it has lied to us and broken contractual agreements for the sake of increasing profit.
Unbiased reporting of public hearings and other legal proceedings leading up to the Public Service Board’s decision on the twenty-year extension of Vermont Yankee’s license is essential. This decision is going to have an impact on citizens across the region, and these citizens deserve to know that the opponents of Vermont Yankee are not, in fact, outnumbered by supporters, and that this fight is far from over.
Nikki Sauber, Keene, NH
Discussing VY-related letters
Editor of the Reformer:
I recently returned home from a week’s vacation and have been going through my Reformers to catch up on local news. I noticed quite a few letters about Vermont Yankee.
Mr. DeVincentis wrote (July 12) about the failure of the Department of Energy and the Congress to site and construct a national spent fuel disposal facility, and the anti-nuke lobby using this as a reason to shut down nuclear power plants. Mr. DeVincentis implies that Yucca Mountain is safe for storing spent fuel, but there are many who would disagree. In fact, it just may be that there is no such repository yet simply because there is no place safe enough. Our government went blithely forward with promoting nuclear power generation before it knew what to do with its incredibly toxic waste, and now we are all in a terribly dangerous bind.
Richard January (July 2) corrected the people who have been putting up the yellow and black “Vermont Yankee Evacuation Zone” signs, saying there is no “evacuation zone,” just an EPZ. Mr. January, you can correct our word choice, but the reality is that, if there is an “accident” of sufficient magnitude at VY, the authorities will attempt to evacuate all of us in the EPZ.
Mr. January and Michelle Joy (July 12) talked about all the economic benefits VY brings to the region. No one denies that an employer as large as VY brings economic benefit to this region. We just don’t think the benefits are worth the risk of being irradiated for generations to come. As I’ve said before, VY’s closure is something Entergy and state and local governments should have started planning for years ago, to mitigate the impact on the local economy. Instead Entergy is thumbing its nose at the state of Vermont and trying to scare everyone into thinking that, without VY, the sky will fall. In my opinion, this is a rogue corporation operating with extreme arrogance, little oversight, and lots of money — a very dangerous combination.
Harriet Green (July 12) wrote that VY is virtually emissions-free and that this is a central reason why VY must keep operating. This argument annoys me no end. We know better than to look at just one part of an energy production cycle and think that’s all we need to consider when weighing pros and cons. Yes, that reactor doesn’t create much carbon emissions, but the mining of uranium takes incredible amounts of water and carbon-creating forms of energy, and it destroys entire habitats, most of them on aboriginal lands in places like Australia and Canada, and the U.S. Nuclear power plants leak radioactive toxins into the water and air.
There are many things that humans can do that we shouldn’t. As far as I’m concerned, splitting atoms to generate electricity is one of those things. We’ve been doing it for decades, but only with huge government subsidies paid by the taxpayers. Far better to direct that money to sustainable forms of energy generation like wind, hydro and solar. Germany is doing it. Even Japan is doing it. Let’s get with a program.
Ann Darling, Brattleboro, July 16
To the editor:
The elevated temperatures we have been experiencing for much of the time since last winter give us another crucial reason that Vermont Yankee should not continue business as usual.
The clear and present danger of climate change makes it imperative that we protect our water and its creatures from further assault.
Every day of operation, Vermont Yankee is discharging heated water into the Connecticut River. The temperature increase in the water is as much as 5 degrees above normal. The plume of heated water has been tracked well into Massachusetts. This kills huge numbers of aquatic animals and plants, some of which are highly temperature sensitive.
Entergy, the reactor’s owner, has the capacity to stop this assault on our river. The state of Vermont has the capacity to order Entergy to operate Vermont Yankee in a closed cycle, meaning that the reactor’s cooling towers cools the water, not the river. This is a process that costs money, but Vermont Yankee has been very profitable for Entergy, at the expense of the health of the Connecticut River.
Everyone who uses the river for recreation, or appreciates it for its beauty needs to speak up right now, as the state is expected to be making a decision about whether to allow Entergy to continue to use the River as its dump, or to force Entergy to help the river flourish.
Nancy Braus, Putney, July 12
Standing together, at least in spirit
Editor of the Brattleboro Reformer:
Three cheers for the people who stood up and refused to sit down at Wednesday night’s (May 23) Nuclear Regulatory Commission meeting. If I could have been there, I would have proudly stood with them.
In 1972 the NRC promised us that this plant would be shut down on March 21 of this year. Why hasn’t this happened? The NRC and all the corporate greed that supports this plant, a plant that is leaving a legacy of poison for our children, grandchildren and into eternity, should be ashamed.
Mary Ellen Copeland,
Dummerston, May 24 (published June 1)
How safe is safe enough?
Editor of the Reformer:
I attended the NRC meeting in Brattleboro on May 23. I appreciated the open house time where those in attendance got to chat individually or in small groups with NRC staff. During the group question and answer session, I was hoping to ask this question that illuminates the divide between nuclear power foes and proponents: How safe is safe enough?
An NRC staffer told the assembled group that the GE Mark 1 reactor design, shared by Vermont Yankee and the Fukushima reactors, was “not the most robust model in our fleet.” At the same time, he told us that the NRC believed five years was an adequate period of time to phase in the safety improvements determined necessary after the Fukushima catastrophe. As one who holds the earth and its inhabitants as precious, I cannot imagine delaying any precaution that would increase our safety. I can’t fathom re-licensing an admittedly inferior reactor design. Why are those officially entrusted with our safety less concerned?
Brattleboro, May 28 (published June 1)
To the Keene Sentinel, written by a Safe & Green Campaign member who is also a member of the Monadnock Affinity Group.
Have a say on nukes
Posted: Tuesday, May 22, 2012 12:15 pm | Updated: 12:08 pm, Tue May 22, 2012.
We should all be mindful of the safety issues with nuclear power.
This Wednesday, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is holding an open house and public meeting about the 2011 safety assessment of Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. It begins with an open house from 5:30-6:30 followed by a public meeting from 7-8:30.
The NRC’s purpose for this event is to solicit public comments and questions about the assessment of Vermont Yankee. This will be held at the Brattleboro Union High School.
I oppose nuclear power and support Vermonters in their effort to shut down Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in Vernon (18 miles from Keene). I favor renewable, green sources of energy because:
u Nuclear is not a sustainable, green energy source. The complete fuel cycle includes the toxic mining of uranium and the endless storage of highly radioactive spent fuel rods in questionable containment systems.
u The real cost of nuclear is too great. When assessing the true cost of nuclear, factor in large government subsidies (from taxpayer dollars), the environmental damage from the mining of uranium, unforeseen accidents at aging plants, the ongoing, long-term costs of radioactive waste management and the decommissioning costs for closed nuclear plants.
u The ongoing health and safety risks of operating nuclear power plants are frightening.
Within the nuclear industry there have been warnings about the Mark 1 reactors weakness in the containment system. Vermont Yankee and Fukushima Dai-ichi are both Mark 1 reactors.
Japan has shut down all of its nuclear power plants because of Fukushima and concerns about the radioactivity that continues to spew into the air and water.
Germany has shut down all of its nuclear plants in support of an economy based on renewable, green energy sources.
How can the United States continue to relicense aging nuclear power plants while also approving new ones when the risks and the costs are so great?
Generating waste of radioactive spent fuel rods leaves us with the challenge of “safely” storing this waste for thousands of years. Vermont Yankee currently stores the spent fuel rods in cooling towers, a containment system which was designed for temporary storage. A viable long-term storage solution has yet to be found.
For Vermont Yankee, the NRC has approved the storage of additional spent fuel, beyond the original design capacity, at least five times what it was originally licensed to hold.
Spent fuel rods are the most radioactive of all nuclear waste.
How can this continue? I shudder to think of the waste we are leaving for future generations, as well as the ongoing threat of a nuclear disaster.
If you share these concerns or have your own questions, join me and many others for the NRC open house and public meeting this Wednesday at the Brattleboro Union High School.
72 Reservoir St.