On Thursday June 4 please come and speak to the Public Service Board at its Public Hearing. This could be the ONE public hearing on Entergy’s plan to store 900+ tons of highly radioactive fuel in the village of Vernon … perhaps forever. 7:00 pm Thursday, June 4, Vernon Elementary School, Governor Hunt Road, Vernon, VT.
Entergy needs to build a new pad on the 127-acre Vermont Yankee site, upon which 22 casks of high level radioactive fuel will sit. To do so, it needs a Certificate of Public Good from the Public Service Board (PSB). This permit application is Docket 8300. We and others have identified issues which need to be brought to the PSB’s notice. Below are a few.
Accessing the May 2015 version of Entergy’s “Spent Fuel Management Plan for VT Yankee”: ain’t easy. Go to http://vydecommissioning.com/document-library/ – click State, and then download “Supplemental Pre-Filed Testimony of George Thomas.” Scroll down to page 10, at the end of Thomas’ testimony.
(1) Calling it “Spent Fuel” makes it sound benign. It is not. It is highly radioactive nuclear waste. Let’s not allow nuke-speak to hide the truth behind acronyms. SNF = spent nuclear fuel = highly radioactive nuclear waste. Here’s another: Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation = ISFSI = a concrete pad with casks of highly radioactive nuclear waste sitting on it.
(2) The school, where the hearing is being held, is right across the street from Vermont Yankee’s gate and just about 1,500 feet from the reactor. There is danger of accident and radiation releases while they move the fuel from the pool to the pad. Entergy should schedule movement only when school is not in session to reduce the risk and protect the children.
(3) The benign-sounding “North Warehouse” will be torn down and the pad built in its place. But it is not so benign: the warehouse is a “radiologically controlled area,” meaning it contains radioactive material, and probably hazardous and non-radioactive waste which concerns Vermont’s Agency of Natural Resources and Health Department. If what is under the warehouse is not cleaned up properly, and instead is buried under the concrete pad, it could spread.
(4) A “line of sight barrier” – basically a wooden screen – will make the view of the storage less ugly, but will do nothing to protect the casks themselves. The first pad is ‘protected’ by an earthern berm but that is not in the plan for the second pad. (A new diesel generator will be protected by a wall 8 foot thick).
(5) Entergy’s talk and filings repeatedly say “just like the first pad.” Same elevation (127 feet above Connecticut River high water mark), same 1,000 year flood plain, same earthquake safety analysis. The approach is: if it was good enough for the PSB in 2006, it must be good enough for the PSB now. But we know that is simply not the case, for at least two reasons.
#1: It’s a post-Yucca scenario. In 2006, it was assumed the highly radioactive waste would be taken away by the department of Energy and sent to Yucca Mountain. The PSB assumed the latest it would be on site would be until 2082. But last year the NRC decided that highly radioactive waste could stay in host communities … forever. The NRC calls it “waste confidence.” In reality it is a Waste Con Game.
#2: it’s a post-Fukushima scenario. Pro-nukers say the dry cask storage survived tsunami and earthquake unharmed. True. What they do not say: Radioactive waste at Fukushima was stored in a concrete building, not on an open pad. The Fukushima casks themselves were 20” thick forged steel, not 5/8” thin canisters Holtec casks which Entergy is buying.
About those Holtec casks: The 5/8” thin canisters are encased in a concrete “overpack” that is 19 feet high and weighs 200 tons — not sophisticated engineering, instead good old USA “bigger is better” engineering. There is no real-time radiation monitoring like there is in Europe and Japan. A canister is passively air cooled with a vent at top and bottom of each cask. For an examination of what the US uses, versus the rest of the world, go to www.SanOnofreSafety.org/nuclear waste/
The NRC ignored documented claims by whistle blower Oscar Shiranti and others that Holtec casks flagrantly violate engineering standards. The Holtecs are not approved by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. To read more about flaws detected by Shirant, go here: http://www.nirs.org/radwaste//atreactorstorage/shiranialleg04.htm
(6) Entergy’s back-up mantra: the NRC doesn’t make us do that. Why protect school children? Why share information with the state? Why protect the river? (Gee, we don’t know, ethics?)
(7) Entergy’s ultimatum, heard repeatedly since 2002: play our way or it will cost you. This time, Entergy is saying if the PSB does not grant their wishes with a CPG by May 2017, it will cost the Decommissioning Trust Fund $1.7 million every MONTH the radioactive waste remains in the fuel pool. The PSB, as the state regulator, should be setting the ultimatums. We will be hosting most toxic substance known to humankind, not the neighborhoods of the corporate executives outside the corporate headquarters in New Orleans.
Here are some numbers, if you are into that:
There will be a total of 58 casks when both pads are full.
They need to buy 45 more than are now on site.
The first pad can hold 36 casks. There are already 13 casks on it, loaded.
On the second pad (proposed), will hold 22 casks. There is room for 25.
There will be one cask filled with radioactive “debris.”
The pool now has 2,996 highly radioactive nuclear fuel rods in it.
Entergy’s proposed construction schedule:
May 2016: Get PSB Approval of the CPG in early.
June 2016 – remove North Warehouse and underground utilities, relocate diesel generator.
2017: Pour concrete pad.
November 2017: Start moving fuel
2020: All 900+ tons of highly radioactive nuclear fuel rods moved onto the banks of the Connecticut River
NOTE: 2020 was the negotiated date from the negotiated agreement with the State of Vermont in December 2013. By NRC “rules,” Entergy could have waited until the 60 year SAFSTOR period was up. Moving the highly radioactive nuclear fuel rods out of the spent fuel pool was the #1 priority of citizens, activists and the State of Vermont.