PSB Hearing Tues 1/14: Talking Points

This coming Tuesday, the Public Service Board (PSB) wants to hear from citizens like you. There are many details — but if we look at the forest, not the trees, the question is a simple one: do you trust Entergy?
This could be our last opportunity to speak to the PSB about Vermont Yankee. On the table is whether or not a Certificate of Public Good (CPG) should be granted to Entergy Vermont Yankee through December 31, 2014. The state and Entergy have come to an agreement; questions from the PSB have been answered. There are many details — but if we look at the forest, not the trees, the question is a simple one: do you trust Entergy?In order to come to any kind of agreement, the state had to put aside a dozen years of Entergy manipulating facts, covering up accidents, and lying to state officials. The state’s wrists are tied by NRC regulations which look out for corporate interests, implied threats of more law suits, and a clock which is running out. Once the reactor is no longer generating electricity and waste, the state’s role is severely limited, by NRC rules.Although our legislator’s tongues are tied by threats of preemption, and state regulators by the NRC, we can point out the obvious. We can tell it like it is, plainly.  Somebody has to speak out when the emperor is wearing no clothes.

So: do you trust Entergy? Tell the PSB.

Here are a few talking points (and questions) which we hope will be helpful.

1. Entergy cannot be trusted just because management has changed. Or because we ‘need’ to trust them.
Just ten weeks ago, the state would have recommended denying a CPG if Entergy had not announced closure. “They can’t be relied on for the next 20 years to operate in a manner that fulfills the conditions of any certificate,” said Chris Recchia of the Dept. of Public Service. This deal trusts Entergy for just one year of operating – but it also lays the foundation for decades of decommissioning and what to do with 900+ tons of nuclear waste.

2. Any site assessment performed by Entergy cannot be trusted. We need an independent site assessment — and predict Entergy will scream “Preemption!” – but as citizens we should point out the obvious and demand it. The site assessment includes costs and tasks for (1) radiological decommissioning (2) spent fuel management (3) site restoration.  The state should require that an independent company will perform the site restoration study, at least.

Entergy lied to the Public Oversight Panel in 2009; lied to the PSB about underground pipes in 2010; Entergy’s 2012 decommissioning report left a whole lot out and was called “seriously flawed” by the state. We need an independent company, not a subsidiary of Entergy, to perform professional site assessment and financial audits.

4. Entergy Corp. had 2012 revenues of $11 Billion and profits of $1.3 Billion.  It will give $10 million for economic development in Windham County and $25 million for site restoration. Sure feels like a drop in the bucket. Entergy’s 2012 estimate for site restoration was $47 million; the state’s 2012 estimate was between $94 to $126 million.

5. There are over 900 tons of spent fuel in the fuel pool. Most of it is old and cool enough to move into dry cask storage. The state and Entergy agree only that the spent fuel will be moved “in a timely manner” – much too vague. Any spent fuel management plan approved by the PSB must require Entergy to move the old fuel into dry cask storage immediately upon shut down.

6. Decommissioning won’t start until there is enough money in the decom trust fund. There is roughly $600 million in it now; estimates range from $840 million to $1 billion to decommission. How will we know that Entergy is playing the stock market wisely? When decom starts, how do we know Entergy will spend the fund wisely?  There will be three funds set up, (decom, waste management, site restoration,). Will the state regularly audit the three funds?

7. Four years of evidence before the PSB could be overshadowed by a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) based on a behind-the-scenes settlement between the state and Entergy. Clean energy advocates and parties to the PSB such as Conservation Law Foundation, VPIRG, Windham Regional Commission, and New England Coalition were not part of making this deal. They have very little time to respond and lack the financial resources of Entergy.

8. Vermont, and the rest of the country, will be left with NY Court of Appeals decision: a state legislature cannot even talk about nuclear safety. This squashes freedom of speech for legislators crafting laws on any issue. Yet at the same time:  in approving the deal between Entergy and the state, the PSB must agree that  “Entergy VY retains the right to challenge any state law requirement on preemption grounds.” Entergy used “federal preemption” to challenge everything from aesthetics to tourism at the last PSB hearings. Entergy even said the tower collapse was preempted – but when the tower collapsed, it claimed the accident was not safety related.

9. Entergy doesn’t have to use closed cycle cooling while it operates for another year. The permit that lapsed 12 years ago stands. ANR continues to do nothing but say it’s working on it while it waits for the feds to re-write the law. Read the Conn. River Watershed Council reaction and new report.

10. Nothing in the settlement or MOU refers to setting up a Community Advisory Panel.  How will the voice of Vernon and all living in the evacuation zone be heard?

Whatever your thoughts are whether or not a certificate of public good should be granted, please come and speak. It may be the last opportunity the public has to speak to the state on Vermont Yankee.

Thank you for all the work you’ve done to shut down Vermont Yankee. Now let’s see it shut down promptly, properly, and for the public good.


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