March 1 News Update

The weather isn’t the only thing heating up since the frigid NRC meeting last week. The big turn out of vocal activist Stakeholders at the NRC meeting, and again at this week’s NDCAP meeting, is helping to feed the fire under the State.  In the press, in NRC filings, and in meetings, sparks are flying. First, mark your calendar: March 14 we will honor the 130,000 Japanese who cannot return to their homes in Fukushima, and host a program on  nuclear waste & uranium mining. Details are here.

MARCH 23rd NRC Comment Deadline: Please Write Your Comments on Entergy’s decommissioning plan and submit them to the NRC. Be sure to include in your written comments the Docket No. 50-271 and post mark by March 23.  Mail to:  Cindy Bladey, Office of Administration, Mail Stop: 3WFN-06-A44M, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, D.C. 20555-0001. On Line:  direct link to Docket 50-271 or go to www.regulations.gov and enter Docket No. 50-271 in the search box.

02.26.15 Citizens Advisory Panel    

Click here for  our notes from the meeting.   Video of the full meeting has already been posted on  BCTV – quick work! 

Three dozen citizens showed up to watch dog Thursday’s meeting of the Nuclear Decommissioning Citizen Advisory Panel (NDCAP). About a dozen of us spoke throughout the evening.  As the night went on, tempers grew short between the state and Entergy. Despite an Entergy power point that closed with a commitment to be “open and transparent,” Entergy VP Chris Wamser refused to answer any questions about the EPZ because the State is appealing a related decision. The state responded to questions at length. [See State appeals decision VtDigger 02.26.15  and Entergy avoids questions on emergency planning zone 02.28.15]. The State wants to know when Energy will respond to their questions about the PSDAR (submitted 12.19.15); Entergy replied “tomorrow.”  The state pummeled Entergy throughout the meeting on reporting data. Wamser claimed they are fully complying with the permit process and “not doing any shady business.”   The Panel intends to create a “neutral” NDCAP website to post filings, articles and other information to educate the Panelists and the public.  Here are our notes from the meeting. Video of the full meeting has already been posted on  BCTV – quick work!
The State and the citizen panelists now understand how completely the public is blocked from participating in the NRC process.  We’ve known it for decades. We need to keep the heat on so they don’t throw their hands up and surrender, as most states do. We know NDCAP is a priority for the State.  Two Commissioners and an Agency Secretary carpool down to Brattleboro every month to face Entergy; they aren’t sending minions. The remarks of other well-meaning panelists reveal a real need for educating panelists in very basic stuff most of us know.  Secure funding – at least a half-time support person, and the ability to hire experts and get training – would help empower the Citizens Advisory Panel.
Who’s not blocked from the process? Industry. Nuclear Energy Institute, the leading trade group, and industry leaders will meet with the NRC on March 5th to discuss its “efforts to assist plants currently transitioning to decommissioning and discuss the current status of decommissioning rules.” The 1pm-4pm meeting is open to the public via teleconference. To join, before noon on March 4 contact William Huffman 301-415-2046 email William.Huffman@nrc.gov or Taylor Lamb 301-415-7128 Taylor.Lamb@nrc.gov

This Week’s Local Nuclear News

VT Attorney General Bill Sorrell has joined his counterparts in MA and NY in a petition, initiated by Vt Citizens Awareness Network (VCAN) and others, to have the NRC study Entergy’s finances on behalf of three Northeast reactors. MA, NH and Vermont worry that Energy’s precarious finances will result in it cutting corners that could imperil public safety.  VCAN has all the documents here.  On 02.26.15 MassLive covered the petition story here.
Vt.Digger  posted a story March 2nd that touches on the petition and Entergy’s response, the decommissioning trust fund, emergency planning and more.
Also on 02.26.15, the Dept. of Public Service announced it was appealing a recent decision by the ASLB (an NRC board on rules) as part of Vermont’s goal of keeping ERDS in place until after all the fuel is moved from the pool into storage. ERDS is the early response data system that uses real time monitoring, and currently alerts towns and the state within 15 minutes of an event. You can read about it on VTDigger, with attached appeal letter.

Entergy 

The quote of the week has to go to Fairewinds’ Arnie Gundersen, who gave a new moniker to Entergy VP Mike Twomey: “So-Sue-Me-Twomey.”
Mr. Twomey (rhymes with Too Me), in a Saturday AP story,  was backpedaling on his statement to VT legislature committees, when he insinuated that Entergy would sue the state and walk away if decommissioning  took more than 60 years. Now Twomey is saying not to worry, the money will grow. And if not, he gave “a hypothetical example: If during cleanup the site turned out to be more contaminated than believed when Entergy bought the plant in 2002, the company might seek to share the costs with the group of New England utilities that owned it previously.” (Wonder what GMP et al think of that?)
The state and many of us consider ourselves to be Stakeholders, in part because any excess funds leftover from decommissioning are split 50/50 between Entergy and ratepayers. We, the ratepayers, created the decomm fund fully through our paying into it. Entergy bought it in 2002 with the sale, and hasn’t added a dime.  Below is evidence that Entergy would rather fight before a federal board, FERC, than give us or the State an identity as Stakeholders. On February 6, VP So-Sue-Me Twomey wrote a letter to the State on spending from the decomm fund. It closes with this doozie:

Lastly, your letter also makes a numbers of statements regarding the Vermont ratepayers’ interest in any remaining decommissioning trust funds.19  Your letter fails to recognize, however, that the trust funds were collected by Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Corporation through wholesale power contracts … and that “[t]hese contracts … have been approved as rates by the FERC.20   As such, FERC has the authority to determine the disposition of any excess trust funds.21

In other words, Vermont Stakeholders, even after decommissioning is complete expect more law suits, more lawyers, and more regulatory hoops to jump through.

Martin Cohn, communications director at ENVY, wrote a letter to the editor of the Greenfield Recorder on Entergy’s transparency and strontium-90. Not to worry: “after April, 2016, Vermont Yankee will maintain a robust emergency planning zone commensurate with the reduced risk of an offsite release and types of possible accidents.”
Some people new to the issue ask: why don’t you trust Entergy? Entergy’s corporate rap sheet was updated this week on Corporate Research.org. .    As Nuclear Shut Down News’s editor Michael Steinberg “was gathering information for this issue, one word kept popping up: Entergy. He gives a brief overview of what’s happening at Entergy’s 11 reactors.  The top 5 nuclear corporations spent $30 million each year in 2013 and 2014, on lobbying the federal government and Congress.  (Entergy is the second largest. You can learn more about Entergy lobbying on OpenSecrets.org  – Center for Responsive Politics.

More NRC Meeting follow-up

This week’s The Commons Olga Peters covered the NRC Meeting.   In “Our Brand New Reality, an OpEd in the same issue of The Commons, Lissa Weinmann critiques the lack of a national waste policy, the NRC, and Entergy’s decommissioning plan.  “ We are living a brand-new reality in untested terrain guided by rules and laws that never presaged the gigantic national problem of built-up nuclear waste in communities — like ours — completely unprepared for the task.”  “Remove VY Carcass – Veto SAFSTOR.”  Arnie Gundersen’s comments on Entergy’s decommissioning plan to the NRC Meeting, on Fairewinds Entergy Education website.

Connecticut River

Cap’n Andy Larkin continues to follow thermal pollution issues on the Connecticut, and has been monitoring the ice on his blog https://vernonradiationsafety.wordpress.com/ . The WWLP TV had a recent story here, “Franklin County Sees a new sight: CT River Frozen Over.” One man said he hadn’t seen ice over the river in 30 years of living in Northfield, and Andrew Fisk of the Conn. River Watershed Council connects the dots to Yankee.
We like this headline: “Spineless attacks on nukes” – although the problem is a serious one. Due to warming water temperatures, jelly fish and other aquatic life are clogging nuclear power and other industrial intake and outflows.

 MA residents — Take Action:

The MA Dept. of Environment is defining “Clean Energy Credits.” They are using only CO2 emissions to define what is “clean.”  In other words, nuclear power generation will be considered “green.”  Please let your outrage be heard by March 23.

Email climate.strategies@state.ma.us or mail written testimony to:

Department of Environmental Protection Bureau of Waste Prevention,

One Winter Street – 7th Floor
Boston, MA 02108 Attn: Will Space

Public hearings will be held in three locations. Check the Pilgrim Watch website for details.

 

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