Flotilla: Our River Runs Through It

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  • Flotilla Heading to the Reactor“Our River Runs Through It” Flotilla & Rally  September 15, 2012

    Entergy Corporation’s Vermont Yankee Nuclear Reactor dumps millions of gallons of heated water, some of it at 105 degrees, into the Connecticut River on a daily basis. Fish like the Atlantic salmon and American shad are vulnerable to warmed habitats; in Vernon, VT, where the reactor discharges, shad have decreased by 99% since the 1990’s. The effects of this heated plume extend up to 55 miles downriver to Holyoke MA.

    Experts question how thorough Entergy’s analysis is for its effects on aquactic life in the Connecticut River.  “I am thrilled that anti-nuclear activists and other concerned citizens are joining the flotilla to protest thermal and nuclear pollution” said Leo Schiff of SAGE .  “The water is a very powerful platform from which to send our message- close Vermont Yankee.  This river is the lifeblood of New England.  Vermont Yankee threatens the entire watershed of the river, imperiling marine life, human life and the entire New England region.”

    There is no reason for Entergy to use our waterways to cool Vermont Yankee. The state of Vermont overwhelming voted to shutter the reactor in 2010 when its license expired in 2012. Entergy’s response? It repeatedly sued Vermont and its people shredding the legal document it signed with the state in 2002. “There is no reason to give Entergy a free ride on polluting the Connecticut River,” said Deb Katz of CAN. “Vermont replaced Vermont Yankee’s power in March 2012 when its state license expired; now the only benefit falls to Entergy since polluting the river saves this rogue corporation money.”

    Thermal pollution could be avoided if Entergy exclusively used VT Yankee’s cooling towers instead of the river for cooling. Entergy has repeatedly used its cooling towers this summer because of high water temperatures and low water levels.

    FLOTILLA 2012

    Photos may be viewed on our Facebook page (even if you are not a Facebook user) and videos  on our YouTube page. Dan Keller captured the day on video beautifully here. The Commons reporter Olga Peters wrote a lengthy piece focusing on the speakers. BCTV posted two reports: a quick preview on Monday, and a report on Thursday that opens with a brief look back at VY this year.

    Paul Franz of the Greenfield Recorder has some excellent photos here and the article is here.  The Rutland Herald‘s story, “Vermont in Hot Water with Protests” made front page news in the Sunday paper  and Brattleboro Reformer had a front page article Monday. (You may need an on-line subscription to read.)

    SAGE Alliance organized a creative “flotilla” navigated by citizens in watercraft and along the shore to protest the thermal polluting of the Connecticut River by Entergy, owner of Vermont Yankee nuclear reactor. Citizens made clear that they want this rogue corporation to stop using the river to cool its aging reactor. “I’m so glad to participate in our first major flotilla to voice our concerns about Vt. Yankee and its effect on the Connecticut River,” said Robin Conley of SAGE.  “I support Vermont voters and Vermont legislators in their commitment to close Vt Yankee and end its thermal pollution of the riv

    “We urge the Vermont State Legislature and Public Service Board to hear our cry, reject Vermont Yankee’s continued operation without a permit for thermal discharge and halt its exploitation of the river”, said Schiff.

    Speakers, musicians and land supporters gathered at two shady rock outcroppings on the Fort Hill Rail Trail, directly across the river from Vermont Yankee. Speakers included

    • David Deen, Connecticut River Steward, Connecticut River Watershed Council and Vermont legislator.
    • Christian Parenti, acclaimed writer for The Nation
    • Deb Katz, Executive Director of Citizens Awareness Network (CAN), a member of SAGE Alliance.

    Musicians included Molly Scott, One Journey, and Annie Hassett.

    There was a symbolic “ice drop” to cool the river, highlighting the thermal pollution by VT Yankee and it’s effect on the river ecology.

    OUR RIVER RUNS THROUGH IT local news articles


    A water approach on the Connecticut River is used to send a message of protest to the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Plant in Vernon, Vt. Saturday, a flotilla of kayaks, canoes, and even an inflatable raft or two launched into the Connecticut River across from Vermont Yankee, paddled close to the plant, then back to the other shore, where speakers and musicians were waiting. Recorder/Paul Franz Purchase this photo at PhotoFinder

    Floating protest

    Vermont Yankee’s continued operation and use of Connecticut River at issue

    By DAVID RAINVILLE Recorder staff

    HINSDALE, N.H. — Steam that poured from the busy cooling towers of Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant Saturday afternoon was met by the cheers of protesters nearby in the Connecticut River.
    “You can see the steam from the pipes today, because they’ve been told they can’t dump (water from the cooling system) into the water today, because the river’s too low, and too hot,” said Deb Katz. “It costs them $1 million a day to use those towers.”
    More cheers from the crowd, though they’d likely cheer louder if the plant were shut down.
    Katz is executive director of Citizens Awareness Network. CAN is part of the Safe and Green Energy Alliance, an association of groups and individuals that come together to fight nuclear power.
    The alliance decided the way to protest rising river temperatures was to get right in the water.



    Yankee in hot water with protesters

    By Susan Smallheer Staff Writer | September 16,2012



    HINSDALE, N.H. — With Vermont Yankee’s cooling towers constantly releasing a wispy wall of water vapor in the background, more than 200 people staged a water-buoyed protest Saturday, saying Entergy Nuclear should stop using the Connecticut River as its personal property.

    Entergy Nuclear discharges 500 million gallons of 105-degree water into the Connecticut River daily, and the discharge raises the temperature of the river six degrees.

    The protesters, as well as some environmental groups, believe this damages the river’s ecology and fish — a claim Entergy disputes.

    A flotilla of more than 100 peaceful protesters in kayaks, canoes, motorboats and even a jet ski carried signs of protest just offshore from the 640-megawatt reactor.

    Later, the protesters paddled to the New Hampshire side of the river to listen to speakers and music and to eventually throw chunks of ice and homemade ice cubes into the river to symbolize their unhappiness with Entergy’s use of the river.

    “This river is too damn hot, cool it off,” said Deb Katz, the executive director of Citizens Awareness Network, a New England anti-nuclear organization.

    “One Fish, Two Fish, HOT fish, NO fish,” said one sign on a canoe paddled by Rose Watson, a teacher from Marlboro, Vt.

    “Entergy — Our river is not your dump,” read another sign.

    Yankee’s two banks of cooling towers were releasing a constant wall of water vapor Saturday, as they will until the temperature of the river water drops this fall.

    The state permit that allows Vermont Yankee to do that expired in 2006, and has been renewed on a year-to-year basis while state regulators formulate a new permit, said Rep. David Deen, D-Westminster, chairman of the House Fish and Wildlife and Water Resources Committee.

    Deen, who works for the Connecticut River Watershed Council as a river steward, said Entergy should be forced to operate Vermont Yankee on a so-called “closed cycle” and stop discharging the hot water into the river.

    “This is your river, this is your water,” said Deen, who urged the group to ask the state Agency of Natural Resources to release the new permit with the closed-cycle requirement. He also told them to call Gov. Peter Shumlin, who is a critic of the plant.

    “Tell him to issue the new permit,” Deen said.

    Deen told the crowd that three recent scientific studies commissioned by the watershed council showed that the warm water discharge was having an adverse effect on the river, which will only get warmer with the increasing effects from global warming.

    Operating in a closed cycle would force Entergy to use its own power generation to cool the water, rather than discharge it into the river, but it is much more expensive. Some estimates say it would cut Entergy’s electrical output by 10 to 15 percent.

    Earlier this summer, Entergy had to cut power production for several days because of the river’s temperature and low flows in the river.

    Saturday’s protest was organized by the SAGE Alliance, a consortium of anti-nuclear groups. The protest was originally scheduled for last Saturday, but organizers postponed it because of the threat of thunderstorms and high winds.

    Organizers said Saturday the turnout was cut at least in half by the delay, as they had expected 300 to 500 people.

    They said the flotilla protest would likely become a regular event until Vermont Yankee ceases operation, or stops using the river to get rid of its hot water.



    A voice for the fish’

    Demonstrators take to the water to protest against Vermont Yankee

    By JOSH STILTS / Reformer Staff Posted:   09/17/2012 03:00:00 AM EDT


    Marlboro residents Rose Watson and Laura Berkowitz share their boat with an unnamed protester during Saturday s Safe and Green flotilla. More than 100 anti-nuclear activists gathered along the Connecticut River to tell the owners of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant to stop dumping the reactor s thermal discharge into the river. (Josh Stilts/Reformer)

    Monday September 17, 2012

    VERNON — Dozens of protesters flocked to the Connecticut River Saturday afternoon to condemn the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant and its owner, Entergy, for the reactor’s thermal discharge.

    Organized by the Safe and Green Campaign, approximately 125 anti-nuclear activists boarded boats, canoes and kayaks at different points along the river and then gathered in a small alcove in Hinsdale, N.H., directly across the river from the Vernon reactor.

    They sang songs and held signs that read “Entergy our river is not your dump” and “Cool IT” and “No place for nuke waste.” They also chanted and dropped ice cubes and ice blocks into the water as a small gesture to cool the river, which they claim is being overheated by Vermont Yankee.

    State Rep. David Deen, D-Westminster addressed the crowd and spoke about his concerns and those of fellow members of the Connecticut River Watershed Council.

    According to a recent report from several hydrologists, the river’s temperature exceeded Vermont Yankee’s permit limit 58 percent of the time between May and October of 2006 through 2010.

    One of the group’s major concerns is the affect that the increased water temperatures is having on fish that use the Connecticut as their spawning grounds.

    “This is your river, your water, it’s your fish,” Deen told the crowd Saturday. “Today sends a great message, that there is a voice for the fish.”

    Deen asked the crowd to contact their local politicians in Vermont to ask the state to pass a new water permit for the nuclear reactor but only if it requires the plant to close its water cycle, which would mean only using the on-site cooling towers.

    “We don’t want any more hot water in this river,” he said.

    Rose Watson and Laura Berkowitz, both from Marlboro, sat in their canoe holding their sign because they said it was necessary to keep up the fight against Entergy.

    “I’m scared, especially after Fukushima,” Watson said of the nuclear disaster in Japan. “I want to see VY be impeccable to their word and close down this plant like they said they would.”

    The plant’s continued operation is still being litigated in federal court as the state of Vermont appealed a judge’s decision to overturn legislation that could have closed the nuclear reactor last March when its initial 40-year license expired.

    The Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved a 20-year extension on the plant’s operating license in March 2011, and about a month later Entergy sued the state, claiming Vermont’s legislation was federally preempted by the atomic energy act.

    Vermont Yankee is currently operating under a “zombie permit” to continue to dump some 543 million gallons of water used to cool the reactor, back into the river.

    Deen told the Reformer last month the water’s temperature can be as high as 105 degrees if the plant is running at 100 percent.

    Last month, following the new report, Jon Groveman, who serves as general counsel for the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, said members of the VANR are reviewing Vermont Yankee’s permit and will look over the report for consideration prior to offering a decision on whether to approve or renew the permit.

    Entergy’s suit against the state has been appealed to the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York.




    Keene Sentinel Posted: Sunday, September 16, 2012 9:00 am | Updated: 9:48 am, Sun Sep 16, 2012. Vermont Yankee protesters took to the river Saturday in Hinsdale to bring attention to warm-water dumping from the plant (seen in the background) into the Connecticut.


    Photos by STEVE HOOPER / Sentinel Staff


    Opeyemi Pacham, left, of Turners Falls, Mass., and a woman identifying herself as Diamond, greet part of the protest flotilla from the river’s bank. At left, participants in the flotilla are seen at the Prospect Street boat launch in Hinsdale as they organize and prepare to paddle across the river to the Vermont Yankee side.