February E-News

Dear Friends of the Safe & Green Campaign,

The 5th anniversary of the beginning of the Fukushima melt-downs, evacuations, contaminations and deaths is approaching, March 11. On Saturday, March 12, we will host a vigil at Pliny Park in Brattleboro. We will honor the 100,000 Japanese people still unable to return to their homes and share what we have learned about Fukushima five years after the disaster began. Please join us from 10am to Noon. Details will be coming soon.

This week, TEPCO’s management claimed Fukushima could be all cleaned up in 40 years. If true, Fukushima will be cleaned up before Vermont Yankee! We wish we could believe TEPCO, but are skeptical. Just look at a single issue, radioactive water: everything TEPCO has tried has failed to keep the water contained.

Speaking of leaking radioactive water: Vermont Yankee and Indian Point are both leaking tritium at a rapid clip. Entergy funds to monitor groundwater at VT Yankee will expire in two months, and Governor Shumlin has put zero dollars in the budget for the state to cover it. Just days after the State and Entergy argued over this at Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens’ Advisory Panel meeting, the news broke that 90,000 gallons of groundwater laced with tritium are approaching the turbine building. NRC thinks the site has more than 1 million gallons of radioactive water and likes Entergy’s plan to ship it all to Idaho. Read more on VtDigger (and check out the Comments section for creative solutions worthy of The Onion.)

NIRS has two fact sheets on tritium: Tritium Basic Info  Tritium natural background

At Indian Point, “One monitoring well showed a nearly 65,000 percent spike in radioactivity, from 12,300 picocuries per liter to more than 8 million picocuries per liter, the governor said.” The NRC and Entergy say there is no threat to the public, but NY Gov. Cuomo said the State will investigate. Edwin Lyman of the Union of Concerned Scientists points the finger at Entergy management.

The State of New York doesn’t think the two Indian Point nukes should get 20-year extensions of their licenses, because the 2.5 billion gallons of water Indian Point uses every day hurts the Hudson River and kills its fish. Entergy claims this is using safety as an excuse and cites the Vermont Yankee federal preemption decision. [PowerMag.com 01.21.2016]

The NRC’s rubber stamp has been getting a lot of Vermont action. Everything is OK!

— VY security is OK: VY Security Endorsed by NRC. It’s all hush hush, because, well, Security. One thing Entergy’s Marty Cohn would say is that people are no longer trespassing because there are signs up saying not to. (Ahem, when did that ever stop us?)

— Entergy’s PSDAR is OKNRC Finds No Issues with VY Clean Up Plan and NRC OKs VY Decomm Plan. Of course, this plan that does not require NRC approval anyway …

–The decommissioning trust fund is OK in Entergy’s hands – NRC: Entergy Complying with Investment Guidelines on Trust Fund (Barre Times-Argus). This comes on the heels of news that Entergy spent down 10% of the fund in the first year of post-closure operations: Entergy Spent 10% of Trust Fund in 2015 (VtDigger) It spent $58 million. (Ironically, Yankee now pays GMP $100,000 a month for electricity and has asked Efficiency VT for help). The State of Vermont disagrees with the NRC that money from the fund should be able to go to spent fuel management, property taxes and other non-decommissioning activities and have filed suit with the NRC. Vermont is joined by the states of Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Hampshire, which are not only worried about the impact of 60 years of Safstor on their own states, but worry about the NRC setting precedent for use of trust funds. Each has their own reactors, and Pilgrim will close in a few years. And all four states are worried about the nuclear waste.

Recently, Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds Energy Education in Burlington “Decommissioning: Trust Fund or Slush Fund?” Listen to the podcast and or read the transcript. Gundersen stated, “…with the use of exemptions, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has turned the decommissioning trust fund into a decommissioning slush fund. And now they’re talking about avoiding exemptions entirely by changing the law.”

What Arnie is referring to is the NRC is drafting new rules to decommission reactors. The nuclear industry is promoting its own vision of decomm, and you can bet it’s about money and not public safety or cleaning up a site for productive re-use in the community. Click here to submit your comments. FYI: the comment period was extended to March 18 after public pressure, although NRC’s public comment page has the old date of January 4. Hmmm…. Oversight?

Also happening on the Yankee front: the VT Public Service Board has set February 22 and 23 for arguments on a permit for a new storage pad (ISFSI) for dry casks. The PSB will allow Ray Shadis to testify on behalf of the New England Coalition. (Entergy had fought his testimony). NDCAP has been working the heart of the matter. “… delays or other interference caused by the ISFSI being adjacent to the facility to be dismantled are a public concern, and any associated costs should be borne by the owner and not the public or the Decommissioning Trust Fund.” Entergy insists the Dept. of Energy (DOE) will take away the waste, and if the DOE fails to do so (as it has ever since the first reactor was built), there is sufficient room for the pad and deconstruction of the building near the pad. If Entergy is so sure, why argue so vociferously against a citizen panel’s advisory opinion? As the NDCAP draft advisory opinion states, “If the location is indeed not a problem then this should be a ‘moot point.’”

US Senator Patrick Leahy weighed in on the future of nuclear waste storage with a letter to NDCAP. The Dept. of Energy has begun a “consent based approach” to find a nuclear waste site or sites. Of note: this week, the NH House of Representatives voted down a bill sponsored by Rep. Renny Cushing to prohibit NH from hosting a nuclear waste site.

The “Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act,” sponsored by Senator Crapo (that’s not a typo), passed the US Senate last week and is on its way to the House. It would give money to develop new nuclear power generation and calls for a four year limit on licensing — which will mean less public participation. VT Senator Patrick Leahy & MA Sen. Elizabeth Warren voted for it – what the hunh? Please contact Leahy & Warren and give them a piece of your mind: Sen Leahy 802-229-0569 http://leahy.senate.gov Sen. Warren (413) 788-2690 http://www.warren.senate.gov/

Let’s end with some love, this being Valentine’s Day. We love that Vermont has the 3rd most solar industry jobs, per capita, in the US. [Check it out here.] Look what can happen once a nuke shuts down!

Peace, Leslie Sullivan Sachs

 

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