In January, Safe and Green Campaign drafted a letter signed by 80 citizens asking VT’s Governor not to sign off on FEMA’s current Radiological Emergency Response Plan. Through working with our local legislators, we learned that the Governor’s office would not sign off until there was a revised plan. An improved plan was circulated in March, and the legislature approved a substantial funding increase for evacuation shelters in April.
Winter: monthly “Safe and Green Salons” were an intentional time to think big and discuss issues of the day during the four winter months. We invited unaffiliated individuals and members of sister groups who work in law and science rather than activism. We learned a lot, had some lively debates, and enjoyed pot luck suppers together.
In February, Safe and Green Campaign member Nancy Braus joined other non-profits in a meeting with VT Agency of Natural Resources staff and other to pressure the agency to move forward on permits addressing thermal pollution from Vermont Yankee into the Connecticut River.
January 22: “Eyewitness from Fukushima” Chiho Kaneko gave a slide show presentation of photographs and spoke about her October trip to Fukushima, Japan. (Video of her presentation is here). Her moving presentation inspired the Safe and Green Campaign’s “Voices of Fukushima” project to commemorate the third anniversary of the tsunami, earthquake and reactor disasters. We recruited SAGE Alliance affinity groups, and each created an action tailored to their own town. The Old Reliables had a table at the Amherst Farmers Market with a slide show, handouts and discussion. Leverett, Mass., hosted a film and discussion about Fukushima’s reactors and other in the US like it. Five towns “adopted” Fukushima evacuation towns for the day: Brattleboro (adopted the town of Namie), Putney (Iitate), Greenfield, Mass. (Kawauchi); Wendall, Mass. (Hirono) and Hanover, NH (Nihonmatsu). Vigils were held at the Vermont Yankee reactor and at the Statehouse in Montpelier. (March 9-11). More info is here.
SAGE Alliance held Leaks, Lies and Lawyers Parade followed by a Rally (March 30). The Safe and Green Campaign provided the bulk of the planning and logistical support. Bread and Puppet Theatre came with 30 costumes and banners, and every one was filled by an enthusiastic volunteer. Members of the Extraordinary Rendition Brass Band from Providence, RI and the Expandable Brass Band from Florence, Mass. led the parade. The parade of 500 citizens was a colorful sea of banners, floats and costumes down Brattleboro’s Main Street. The forum in the historic Latchis Theater included speeches from Windham County Senator Jeanette White, Deb Katz of Citizens Awareness Network, Chris Williams of Vermont Citizens Action Network, a song by the Vocal Chordz, and a skit by Safe and Green members. Speeches and photos are here.
Safe and Green Campaign testified May 7 before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Petition Review Board as one of 23 petitioners in a 2.206 petition to shut down Mark 1 and Mark 2 (Fukushima-style) reactors. Testimony was taken via conference call organized by Paul Gunter of Beyond Nuclear.
Safe and Green Campaign worked with Chiho Kaneko to host a speaking tour in June with Chikako Nishiyama, a courageous anti-nuclear activist and former city councilor from the town of Kawauchi, Japan, which served as a shelter town and then was evacuated during the meltdown of the Fukushima reactors. Kawauchi was adopted by Greenfield,Mass. for our “Voices of Fukushima” project in March. Chikako was so moved by Greenfield’s to Kawauchi that she initiated this speaking tour. In Greenfield, she was presented with scrolls of translated messages to the people of Kawauchi from the people of Greenfield. VYDA set up a meeting with seven state legislators, the head of the Red Cross, VT State Nuclear Advisory Panel including officials from the Dept. of Public Service, Dept. of Health, and the state nuclear engineer. For 90 minutes following her presentation, the group asked questions and discussed challenges. Chikako also made presentations near Entergy’s Pilgrim reactor, in five other towns in Vermont and Massachusetts, in New York City and near Indian Point, at the Peace Pagodas in Grafton, NY and in Leverett, Mass. She returned to Vermont in October, before finally heading home to Japan, to interview Safe & Green members about Vermont Yankee’s closure announcement, and what we see as the activists role in Entergy’s decision to shut down the reactor.
Over the summer, Safe & Green had information booths and made connections with other activists working on extreme energy challenges while at Clearwater Festival near Indian Point and at the Solarfest in central Vermont. We hosted two German anti-nuclear activists for three days, while they biked from NYC to Bread & Puppet in northern Vermont, and had fascinating discussions about the differences between our local movement and theirs. We marched with CAN in Brattleboro’s July 4th parade. Working with the SAGE Alliance, we helped organize a banner drop for Memorial Day weekend and the second annual flotilla on the Connecticut River.
With contributions from Lionel Delevigne, Cate Woolner and David Shaw, Safe and Green organized our first photo exhibit: “Taking Power: Photographs from the People’s Movement to Shut Down VT Yankee.” Our opening reception turned into a huge celebration — just ten days beforehand, on August 27, 2013, Entergy announcement that they were closing Vermont Yankee at the end of 2014!
For those of us who have been working to shut down the reactor for decades, August 27 is a memorable day. After jubilant phone calls, a few of us wrote up Safe and Green’s post- closure response, then dashed over to Entergy headquarters – not to protest, but to take advantage of the media who would be leaving Entergy’s press conference. Read press coverage here on our Closure News page, with links to media as well as OpEds by Safe and Green members. (As always, we encourage you to write letters to the editor and we’ll post them on our website.)
What may be our most important work is truly cut out for us now, as Entergy announced that it could mothball the reactor for up to 60 years, before full decommissioning will begin. Along with the state, town, region and all national and regional anti-nuclear groups, Safe and Green Campaign agrees that this is unacceptable and we will advocate for decommissioning as soon as it is safe to do so after the reactor’s closure.
We encourage readers to contribute to our Decommissioning Resources page here.
Safe and Green convened area anti-nuclear activists on September 23rd for a strategic planning process to set Safe and Green’s priorities for the work ahead. On Sept. 30, staff testified for a second time before the NRC’s petition review board on a 2.206 request to shut down all 23 Fukushima-style reactors. A few of us attended the seminar, On Going Lessons from Fukushima in Boston October 9 with former Prime Minister of Japan, former NRC Commissioner Jaczko, Arnie Gundersen, Peter Bradford, and others. Our own Chiho Kaneko of Hartland, VT translated for PM Kan. We urged the VT State Nuclear Advisory Panel to recommend prompt decommissioning and removal of spent fuel from the fuel pool, at their quarterly meeting on October 16.
In an entire year of meetings, presentations and citizen comment, Vermont State Nuclear Advisory Panel (VSNAP) on evacuation planning, thermal pollution, and Entergy finances, by VSNAP made only one recommendation in 2012: to add another member to its panel. VSNAP responded to Safe and Green’s pleas at its October 2013 meeting to do something and advise the state on decommissioning. Two weeks later, VSNAP formally recommended to the Governor and Public Service Dept. that Vermont Yankee be required to decommission safely and promptly.
Four Safe and Green members spoke at the NRC’s public hearing on Waste Confidence in Chelmsford, MA on October 28. Forced by a federal court to re-draft its rules for the environmental impacts of high level nuclear waste, the NRC is adopting a cookie-cutter approach treating all reactors as if they are the same model, age, and location, and the rules allow spent fuel to remain in fuel pools indefinitely. We had plenty to criticism in the 545 page draft plan. One of our speakers called the approach “faith based science” (faith in radiation being harmless and no risk of accidents). Another said “this is your mother speaking. You have to clean up your mess when you are done playing with your toys. Shame on you.”
On November 2nd, Safe and Green and CAN co-hosted a standing-room-only “People Power Party” to show celebrate and share our gratitude that Vermont Yankee will be closing. John Sheldon and Friends, Dan Dewalt and Derrick Jordan played dance music; Open Mics between sets gave folks venues for speeches, skits and rants. Photos of 40 years of anti-nuclear actions were projected onto three screens. Klondike Sound donated equipment. Hope and Olive, Green Fields Market, the People’s Pint and Hungry Ghost Bread all donated food, and discounts were given by Amy’s Bakery Arts (a huge Bye Bye VY!! cake), Entera Catering, Winham Wines, All Souls Church and others. It was a fabulous gathering – and a great warm up for next year’s party to celebrate when Vermont Yankee turns off the power and stops producing nuclear waste.
Safe and Green hosted “Cleaning Up Vermont Yankee: Three Perspectives” on December 3 at the School for International Training in Brattleboro. A packed room of activists got updated on decommissioning by Tm Buchanan, Deb Katz and Dr. Marvin Resnikoff.
In the week that followed, Safe & Green’s steering committee laid the groundwork for a Town Meeting Day resolution campaign. In 2009 and 2010, 50 towns passed resolutions voting to shut down Vermont Yankee and hold Entergy accountable for decommissioning costs, paving the way for the Legislature’s action in 2010 and 2011.
Late on the afternoon of December 23rd, the State and Entergy held a press conference to announce they had reached some agreement on closure and decommissioning — if the Public Service Board grants a Certificate of Public Good to operate for another year. Our reading of the agreement: Entergy once again is throwing a little money at the state, and it cannot be trusted to keep its word.