2012 Timeline

  • Resources

    • Entergy wins in federal court. Judge rules Act 160 preempted because legislators talked about safety before drafting Act 160; sends decision back to Public Service Board. (January 12). Decision here)
    • Entergy applies to NRC to change how often it will inspect the steam dryer from every time it shuts down for refueling (about every 18 months) to every 7 refueling outages (about once every 10 years). See July 2010: 65 cracks in steam dryer. (made public on January 26, 2012; approved by NRC December 19, 2012 to every third re-fueling outage).
    • Yankee refuses state’s request to test for tritium in a former drinking water well on the reactor property.(January 27)
    • Entergy asks Public Service Board to grant Certificate of Public Good based solely on what is already in the record with no new evidence. The PSB closed  the record, Docket 7440, in January 2010 because Entergy lied under oath to PSB and others.   (January 29) In March, VT Public Service Board decides to start with a fresh docket.
    • Vermont Yankee operates at 20% to 43% power due to a valve which stuck due to lack of lubrication. (February 02-04)
    •  CVPS and Green Mtn. Power sue Entergy to recover costs resulting from Vermont Yankee cooling tower failures in 2007 and 2008.(January)
    • Connecticut River Watershed Council releases two reports which show that Entergy used flawed scientific modeling to measure thermal pollution. (February)
    • Entergy files a motion in federal court to require the State of Vermont pay Entergy’s $4.6 million in legal fees for its lawsuit against the state. (February)• For the second time in recent months, Vermont Yankee reduced power due to problems with its condenser. (March 6)
    • U.S. District Court Judge J. Garvan Murtha ruled that the State could not shut down Vermont Yankee on March 22, when its Certificate of Public Good expires, and that it cannot close the plant over waste storage issues until after appeals are heard by the 2nd US Circuit Court in NY.
    • For the third time, Vermont Yankee operated at reduced power because of continuing problems with the condenser. In the fall, epoxy as applied to leaking condenser tubes which  reduced their heat transfer ability. The epoxy was removed and re-applied. (Mid-March to mid-April)
    • Entergy refuses to make payments into the Clean Energy Development Fund because its Certificate of Public Good has expired. (April)
    • The VT Legislature voted to increase VYs annual generating tax from $5 million to $12.5 million. (May)
    • ISO New England said transmission upgrades and new generation means that Yankee is no longer needed to maintain grid reliability. (May)
    • VT Public Service Dept. Commissioner Elizabeth Miller argued on behalf of the State, CLF and the New England Coalition before a DC Circuit Court, saying the NRC acted improperly when it granted the license extension because the plant did not have a Clean Water Act permit; the last time the permit was granted was in 1970. (May 9)
    • Yankee operated at reduced power again, while workers replaced a leaking oil pump on one of the plant’s three feed-water cooling systems, then fixed leaking components in the condensate system. (May 7-10)
    • NRC Annual Safety Assessment on VT Yankee for 2011 Open House and Public Meeting. Headlines include: “Protestors takes over NRC open house, displacing regularly scheduled conversation and sending loud message to regulators.” (May 23)
    • NRC Reports one day later:  “a conduit flood seal was missing between an outside manhole and the interior of the switchgear rooms. The missing flood seal compromised the interior flooding design for both East and West Switchgear Rooms. Repairs were made … [NRC reported because] internal flooding of both Switchgear Rooms could possibly affect (a.)safe shutdown, (b.)removal of decay heat, (c.)control of release of radioactive material and (d.)mitigating an accident.” (May 24)
    • The US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the NRC failed to adequately evaluate on-site nuclear waste storage prior to granting license extensions. It also ruled that the NRC must take into consideration environmental impacts of waste storage. The NRC had been granting license extensions based upon the assumption that waste storage would be created; with Yucca Mtn. taken off the table in 2010, the Court ruled that the NRC has not calculated the environmental impacts of failing to find permanent storage. (June 8). On June 18, the New England Coalition and  dozens of other groups petitioned the NRC to halt final decisions on license and extensions until it evaluates the impacts of storing nuclear waste.
    • The reactor reduced power to 41% to temporarily fix a steam leak associated with its turbine.  A permanent repair will take place when the reactor shuts down for refueling next year. (June 12)
    • The reactor reduced power to 35% when a reactor cooling water pump failed. The reactor building filled with smoke. (June 18). On June 23, NRC reported that the motor dates from prior to the plant opening in 1972 and finding parts could be a problem. This is one of two recirculation pump motors; the other broke down in September 2011.
    • After two years of request from the state, Entergy Nuclear agrees to renew testing on the COB well, which supplied employees with drinking water and had been shut down in February 2010 after tests showed it was contaminated with tritium.  (July 13)
    • VY reduced power production to 80 percent because of its troubled condenser and low flows in the Connecticut River. River flow is 50% below normal for July. Also, due to record high temperatures, it is using the cooling towers (closed cycle cooling) twice a week  to perform chlorination of the condenser and its waterboxes. (July 18)
    • Water in the spent fuel pool dropped five inches, sending 2,700 gallons of “mildly” radioactive water into a wastewater system. It was 30 minutes before operators in the control room noticed. An employee had misaligned valves. (July 25)
    • Entergy sued the State of Vermont in US District Court claiming Act 143 violates the Commerce Clause and the Supremacy Clause of the US Constitution. Under Act 143, , a law passed in May which taxes large electricity producers, Entergy’s tax burden for Yankee increased from $5 million to $12.5 million. (Sept. 11) The lawsuit was dismissed by a Federal District Court judge Oct. 25, saying it is within the State’s right to impose such a tax. Entergy appealed in Jan. 2013.
    • A scientific study commissioned by the Connecticut River Watershed Council found that “from 2006-2010, between the months of May and October, Vermont Yankee’s discharge exceeded the permitted rise in temperature 58 percent of the time. In June, that number rose to 74 percent. The report also noted that temperature increases near the nuclear plant held at least 22.5 miles downstream in Massachusetts.” (Oct. 10)
    • A VT Yankee engineering supervisor arrived at work at 9:30 am intoxicated and was fired. (Oct. 19)
    • Brattleboro Reformer ran a series of nine articles on emergency planning in the evacuation zone. Topics included underfunding of towns and of the Red Cross,  reception centers, traffic, and reality versus planning.  http://www.reformer.com/ci_21802556  (Oct. 14-25).
    • New Hampshire health officials began testing fish to see if there are elevated levels of radiation following a 2010 tritium leak at the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant.  (Oct. 24)
    • Entergy Nuclear asks for state and federal approval to bring in a third backup diesel generator to provide electricity to Vermont Yankee in the event of an emergency station blackout, to replace Yankee’s tie-in to the hydroelectric station in Vernon, which will no longer be available for emergency power due to a decision by ISO-New England. (Oct. 27)
    • PSB holds two hearings to take comments from the public on Docket 7682 (certificate of public good or CPG). In Vernon on Nov. 7, 34 people spoke against a CPG and 39 spoke in favor of it. At 13 VT interactive technology sites on Nov. 19, 68 said no CPG, and 25 said keep Yankee going. At both hearings, the rooms were packed to overflowing and more people signed up to comment than the PSB had time to hear.
    • PSB denies Entergy’s request to amend the Sale Order of 2002, which states that Yankee must cease operations March 22, 2012 if there is no CPG. (Nov. 30)
    • New England Coalition filed a complaint with the VT Supreme Court, asking it to shut down Yankee based on the Sale Order, citing the PSB’s 11/30 decision. (Dec. 4). Entergy responded by filing in  federal district court (where it had won the pre-emption case).
    • The Public Service Board again states that Vermont Yankee is operating in violation of the sale agreement, in a new order in response to Entergy’s request in September for a CPG for a new diesel generator. “Condition 8, of the Docket 6545 Order, which prohibits operation of the VY Station after March 21, 2012, absent Board approval, remains in effect,” wrote the board. “The same is true of the Board’s Order and CPG in Docket 7082 (in which the Board approved construction of a dry fuel storage facility), both of which contain a similar prohibition against operation.” PSB is worried that if it approves the new diesel generator, Entergy will take that CPG as approval for operating past March 21, 2012.

    QUESTION: How long will it be before a “minor” accident turns into a “major” one, with catastrophic consequences for a major portion of New England? The NRC’s 50 mile radiation “ingestion pathway zone” around Vermont Yankee includes 1.5 million people, the Green Mountains, the eastern Berkshires, the Mohawk Trail, the Monadnock range, countless waterways, hundreds of farms, and “stops” at the edge of the Quabbin reservoir.