November 16 NDCAP

The next meeting of the Vermont Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel will take place on Thursday, November 16, 2017, 6pm-9pm, at the Brattleboro Area Middle School Multipurpose Room, Sunny Acres Rd, Brattleboro.  All NDCAP meetings are open to the public.

For the full agenda go to the NDCAP website:  In addition to the usual updates from the State and Entergy on decommissioning, discussion and information include:

  • 6:40 Discussion on Region Specific Decommissioning Issues with Representatives from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and State of New  Hampshire
  • 6:55 Definition of Industrial v. Residential Cleanup Standards (David Andrews)
  • 7:05 Update on Spent Fuel Transportation Plans (rail infrastructures, timetables, etc.) (State)
  • 7:15 History and Options for Spent Fuel Storage (State)
  • 7:30 Topics/Issues to address at 2018 meetings (followed by Public Comments on topics for 2018)


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Coalition Annual Meeting 10/21/2017

The New England Coalition on Nuclear Pollution (NEC) has been fighting for public citizens’ health and safety for over 40 years and are currently parties to the VT Public Utility Commission hearings on decommissioning. Please support NEC at their annual meeting.



Bring a friend! The public is encouraged to attend.

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 21 @ 1:30 pm


NEC proudly welcomes David Kraft – educator, organizer, and founder/director of Nuclear Energy Information Service. David will speak to the issue of our times as we work to safely decommission Vermont Yankee. Our lineup also includes a video greeting from Winona LaDuke, executive director of Honor the Earth, a Native environmental advocacy organization; our own workhorse Ray Shadis; and Arnie Gundersen, director and chief engineer of Fairewinds Energy Education.

1:30  Mingling
2:00 NEC Members Meeting
3:00 Refreshment Break
3:15  Call to Action! – Winona LaDuke, Native environmentalist (video greeting)
3:30 Why are we here? – Ray Shadis, NEC Technical Advisor
3:45  Report from Fukushima: Contamination Update – Arnie Gundersen, Fairewinds Energy Education
4:00 Refreshment Break
4:15  The Last Wave – Decommissioning in the Age of Nuclear Retreat – David Kraft, Nuclear Energy Information Service
5:00 Q & A – Closing
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Next NDCAP Meeting

“The next meeting of the Vermont Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel will be held on Thursday, October 26, 2017.  The meeting will take place 6pm-9pm in the multipurpose room at Brattleboro Area Middle School on Sunny Acres Road in Brattleboro. An agenda will be posted once it is available.” – Kate O’Connor, NDCAP Chair

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Agenda posted for Sept. 28 NDCAP meeting

NDCAP is meeting next on September 28. Thursday, 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm, at the
Brattleboro Area Middle School Multi-Purpose Room, 109 Sunny Acres, Brattleboro, VT. The agenda is 9.28.17 NDCAP Agenda – Final

Materials have been posted to the NDCAP website from the June meeting which include the presentation by the state on its filing to the NRC with MA, NY and CT (and a copy of the filing itself); presentations by Areva and Burns & McDonnell; and updates from Entergy on decommissioning to date. VtDigger covered the meeting here.


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NDCAP Meeting 6.22.17

The next meeting of the Vermont Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel will take place on Thursday, June 22 from 6pm to 9pm at the Governor Hunt House in Vernon.

 The meeting will include presentations by AREVA and Burns & McDonnell, NorthStar’s partners in the decommissioning. The full agenda is here.

The NDAP website is:

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New PSB Chair

There is a new chair of the Public Service Board (PSB), and the appointment is good news for those concerned about Vermont Yankee. Tony Roisman knows nuclear power regulatory issues, and we need someone of his experience and intellect while the complexities of the sale from Entergy to NorthStar is before the PSB. You can read profiles of him in SevenDays and in VtDigger. Roisman is replacing Jim Volz.

Update: Roisman has recused himself as chair of the PSB from Vermont Yankee cases.

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Who’s Sacrifice?

On May 6, Safe & Green Campaign co-sponsored an event on nuclear waste. Lissa Weinmann wrote an excellent background piece based on interviews and research, Vermont Yankee-Expert says faster reuse unrealistic amid national waste dilemma and VtDigger covered the May 6 eventMaria Dominguez of BCTV filmed the panel for you to watch & share. What follows are the thoughts of Leslie Sullivan Sachs, Safe & Green member and webmistress.

Listening to Rose Gardner of Eunice, New Mexico share her story reminded me of the stories of people whose racism was transformed once they had a real relationship a person of color. If Rose could only speak, one on one, with those of us living outside reactors, of what it is like to live surrounded by nuclear waste dumps and a uranium processing plant, hearts and minds would change.

We had the opportunity to hear Rose on Saturday when she, Kevin Kamps of Beyond Nuclear, and Deb Katz of the Citizens Awareness Network spoke. Brattleboro was the final stop of their tour, “Environmental Racism & Nuclear Waste.” They also spoke in towns close by the Seabrook and Pilgrim reactors and in Montpelier and Greenfield, MA.

Rose is a resident of Eunice, a 3,000 person town just across the border from Andrews County, Texas. Over half of the county is Latino. 20% of Eunice residents have no health insurance. In 2015, the income of 17.7% of the population was below the poverty line; for Latinos, it was 22.4%.

Eunice is in New Mexico’s “nuclear corridor.” It hosts the National Enrichment Facility (NEF, owned by URENCO)  processes enriched uranium for nuclear fuel.  Its neighbors include the Waste Control Specialist “low level” nuclear waste dump, five miles away in Andrews, TX, which receives Vermont Yankee’s “low level” radioactive waste; the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), a nuclear waste disposal site infamous for its 2014 explosion due to kitty litter and exposed 21 plant workers to plutonium, is 30 miles from Eunice. Holtec, the maker of dry casks used at Vermont Yankee, has applied for a 1,000 acre high level nuclear waste dump permit (LES on the map) and a smaller, interim waste site (ELEA) to the west of Eunice. International Isotopes of Idaho just got an NRC permit to build a uranium deconversion plant in Hobbs, the next town north of Eunice.  

 Rose – a survivor of a lymphoma — says, “Enough! We have taken enough. We don’t want your waste.”

As if all that radioactivity weren’t enough, Eunice and Lea County sit over the Ogallala Aquifer, which provides one-fifth of the drinking and agricultural water in the US. Fracking and traditional oil and gas wells cover Lea County and have taken their toll on the aquifer. The risk of earthquakes is high. Not a good scenario for storing radioactive waste.

And if that all weren’t enough, trains of waste go through Eunice daily. Rose showed us photos of rail cars waiting – sometimes for days – for pick up at a side spur. If WCS revives its application for a high level radioactive waste site 5 miles from her home, 40,000 tons of waste will go through Eunice. There is incredible risk involved in getting all that radioactive waste across the country by rail and truck. To get to her corner of New Mexico, the rail lines go through huge urban areas. Look at this map provided by Waste Control Specialist – railroad map of the US.

Rose closed with a personal slide show of her hometown. She is not only a nuclear activist and Sierra Club member. She is a florist, a mother, and a grandmother. 

We talk about how the legacy of nuclear waste on the Connecticut River shouldn’t be left for our children and grandchildren to deal with. Well, Rose’s children and grandchildren don’t deserve the radioactive burden any more than our children do. In fact, they deserve it less because the radioactive wastes weren’t made in their back yard.

Kevin Kamps is the nuclear waste expert for Beyond Nuclear, and lives near Pallisades, a decrepit reactor owned by Entergy. He spoke about the current administration wanting to start Yucca again, as a national repository, and outlined its weakness as a site. He also spoke about how to strengthen dry casks storage at reactor sites, including HOSS – hardened on-site storage, where berms are built around the pads to protect them from environmental impacts and acts of sabotage or terrorism.

Deb Katz concluded the panel with the story of the Yankee Rowe reactor pouring radiation into the Deerfield River, and the 10-fold increase in Down’s Syndrome, elevated levels of breast cancer and non-Hodgkins lymphoma, and multiple myeloma in the Deerfield Valley. Rowe was decommissioned, and everyone wanted the waste gone. Everyone, including Deb.

That was before she visited Barnwell, SC, where the deconstructed reactor and its parts was headed. Half African American, 20% of residents live below the poverty line. CAN organized three “Caravan of Conscience Tours” between 1994 and 1998. Activists followed the shipments of radiated reactor vessel parts from Yankee Rowe and Connecticut Yankee to Barnwell. They alerted communities along the way about the shipments and spoke about the environmental racism of the nuclear industry. After being in Barnwell and meeting the people there, Deb realized “it was unethical to ship the same toxic waste that hurt us to another community to hurt them. It became clear to us that all communities impacted by the nuclear fuel chain share the same fate:  we are all sacrifice communities.”

We are all sacrifice communities.

Like Deb, we have envisioned the nuclear waste at Vermont Yankee gone forever from the bank of the Connecticut River, across from the Vernon elementary school. But listening to Rose and Deb brought home the ethical question: what right do we have to dump our wastes on some other small town? I can’t imagine the hearts of Vernon, or our state regulators, having their hearts and minds changed by an intellectual ethical exercise. It is too bad regulators aren’t required to visit the communities where the radiated waste Vermont doesn’t want will go, aren’t made to see their sacrifice, and ask themselves the question: who are we to dump the radioactive waste we created on others?

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NRC Returns to VT

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is returning to Brattleboro on May 25th. They want  to hear citizens’ thoughts on the license transfer (sale of Vermont Yankee to NorthStar), and will also take comments on NorthStar’s Post Shut Down Activities Report (PSDAR). Links to the PSDAR and license transfer are on our new NRC & PSB documents page here.

The Thursday May 25 meeting will be hosted by NDCAP at its regular meeting time, 6:00-9:00pm at the Brattleboro Area Middle School, 109 Sunny Acres Drive.  Google Map

In February 2015, the NRC came to Brattleboro to take public comments on Entergy’s PSDAR. In a meeting that ran for nearly five hours, three dozen of the 200 citizens present questioned the NRC.   [See our 2.22.15 post, Wake Up Calls]

One big issue: the PSDAR is not APPROVED by the NRC; it is accepted, and we find that unacceptable.

One question for the NRC:  will any new decommissioning rules apply to NorthStar decommissioning Vermont Yankee? On May 8-10 the NRC will hold three public meetings on its draft decommissioning rules. The current rules do not reflect the changing nuclear power  scene: for example, merchant plants owned by private corporations rather than utility companies. You can participate by phone. Details are here:

The State of Vermont gave a presentation on its comments to the draft decommissioning rules at an NDCAP meeting a year ago. The power point is here with the State’s comments beginning on page 14. Vermont’s comments to the NRC were written by Vermont and joined by NY, CT, NH and MA. It has everything we wanted at the time. [Read our summary at May 26 2016 NDCAP meeting here.]

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The Road from Vermont Yankee to Texas

Safe and Green Campaign is co-sponsoring a New England tour which will connect the dots among environmental justice, nuclear waste, and nuclear reactors in our region. [Click here for the tour details. Tour stops include Brattleboro Food Coop (Community Room, 1 Cananl St.), Montpelier on Friday; Greenfield, MA (Saturday 12:30), and towns near Seabrook & Pilgrim reactors.

Environmental Justice and Nuclear Waste: The Road from Vermont Yankee to Texas

What: Examining the issues of high-level nuclear waste (HLNW) and Federal waste policy. 

Who: Rose Gardner, Sierra Club member and a resident of a community impacted by both a Texas low-level waste dump and a proposed Centralized Interim Storage site for HLNW in Andrews County, Texas; Kevin Kamps with Beyond Nuclear, speaking on the vulnerabilities of on-site storage of HLNW and federal policy; and Deb Katz with Citizens Awareness Network, addressing the issues of NorthStar, decommissioning, and hardened onsite storage at nuclear reactors.

Do you know where our Vermont Yankee nuclear waste goes? Although the nuclear industry and federal government committed to create a solution for high-level nuclear waste disposal, no acceptable solution exists.  

The industry pits nuclear communities against each other; reactor communities fear inadequate storage casks, lack of onsite protections, and abandonment of high level nuclear waste.  Communities targeted for nuclear waste disposal don’t want dangerous nuclear waste in their backyard, particularly given the abysmal record of leaks and inadequate environmental protections.  Waste communities face unconscionable choices – short-term economic survival or long-term health and safety.

This is a timely topic as the public and the state look at Yankee decommissioning. Waste Control Specialists (WCS) is one of the “dream team” created by NorthStar.  WCS has low level waste sites in Texas and is applying for a license to store high level nuclear waste [UPDATE: WCS put its application for a high level waste site ‘on hold’ last week Dallas News 4.19.17]

In addition to the Sierra Club’s Lone Star chapter, Nuke Free Texas and the Texas Public Citizen chapter have been fighting WCS and state regulators for decades. No Nuclear Waste Aqui! posts local press.

A 2009 article,  “Why is Andrews County so eager to get dumped on?” has insights that are still applicable today. Like Vernon, Andrews has been an energy hub – but for oil. With oil boom times coming to an end, some residents welcome future “energy projects.” Others see low level and high level nuclear waste as dangerous for the same reasons we do – risky –  citing issues with accidents or sabotage while transporting the waste, leaks which could radiate the groundwater, public health issues, and lack of tranparency by the government and dump owners. [High Level Waste is High Risk, 4.28.16 with Rose Gardner]

Lissa Weinmann has written an excellent piece published 05.05.17, VY Expert: Faster Reuse Unrealistic Amid National Waste Dilemma which includes interviews with the panelists.

Please join us in learning about and discussing these issues. Locally:

  • May 5 Vermont Yankee: 5:30 Pot Luck, 6:30 Program. Christ Church, 64 State Street, Montpelier, VT
  • May 6 Vermont Yankee: First Congregational  Church, Greenfield, MA, 1:00- 3:00 PM (soup lunch at 12:30pm)
  • 4:30pm on May 6th at the Brattleboro Food Coop Community Room, 2nd Floor, Canal Street entrance, Brattleboro. [This is a change in location as of 4/27]

Free and open to the public.

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PSB Sale Hearing Recap

Press coverage of the April 6 Public Service Board public hearing at Vernon Elementary School on the sale of Vermont Yankee (Docket #8880):

Process for sale of VT Yankee said to be first arrangement of its kind (Greenfield Recorder 04.06.17)

VY decommissioning sale praised (Rutland Herald, 04.08.17)

Questions dominate VT Yankee sale discussion (, 04.09.17)

Brattleboro Community Access TV: BCTV recording of the hearing

Notes by Leslie Sullivan Sachs:

PSB Public Hearing on Docket #8880 sale of VT Yankee to NorthStar, April 6 2017, Vernon Elementary

At least 125 present, including a good number of citizens and also a hefty number of lawyers, and staff of intervenors (parties to the docket) such as Conservation Law Foundation, Assoc. Industries of VT.

The presentation at 6:00pm opened with Geoff Commons, Dept. of Public Service, saying the department has not taken a position yet. He then introduced Scott State, CEO of NorthStar and Mike Twomey, an Entergy VP. They spoke briefly then took questions from the audience for 40 minutes.

Dan Burns of Waste Control Specialists and two staff from Areava France attended but did not speak. A number of people commenting questioned Areva’s poor track record in France and financial stability.

Scott State said he thinks of Yankee as a “radiologically contaminated site,” not a nuclear reactor site. 95% of the radiation is from the spent fuel, which will be in dry cask storage. 99% of the radiation will be gone when they remove the internal torus from the reactor. PSDAR submitted to NRC today.

Questions from the public:

  • Inexperience with a reactor this size? NorthStar has done thousands of large decommissioning projects. “NorthStar and Areva” have decomm large nukes in the United Kingdom. [Fact: NorthStar has done 4 university lab reactor decomms, Areva has the experience.)
  • Chris Williams: safety of elementary school? NorthStar will set up containment while removing radiated pieces and parts.
  • NorthStar broke down decommissioning into 920 discrete tasks, each one assigned a cost. NorthStar will use precisely the amount budgeted – perhaps less, but “we cannot take more than is assigned that cost.” There is a 10% contingency on everything.
  • Why is NorthStar’s budget ($811 million) less than Entergy’s estimate of $1.2 billion? (1) Entergy is moving spent fuel into dry casks before the sale, so that cost is no longer in the budget; (2) the new financial model, “guaranteed fixed payment system;” (3) NorthStar will perform decomm & site restoration at same time.
  • Mark McDonald pressed NorthStar on the question: if decommissioning fund is gone, who will pay? State of NorthStar answered, “the owner.” Who’s the owner in this layers of LLCs? ENVY. NorthStar: the PSB and NRC will evaluate financial assurance issues. McDonald: but the NRC just changes the rules to fit the issue.

Margaret Cheney and Sarah Hoffman were the Public Service Board hearing officers present. No time limits were set for public. BCTV filmed the hearing.

A few themes: “it’s almost too good to be true” by both skeptics and supporters of the sale; will Vermont be protected financially if things don’t go according to plan?; concern about financial stability of Areva; how clean is clean.

Here’s who testified, to the best of our knowledge:

  • Brad Ferland, President of VT Energy Partnership (approve & move forward)
  • Deb Katz, CAN (Rowe & CT Yankee – double expense over what was budgeted due to what they didn’t know was in the ground; we could end up with a brownfield site)
  • Asher Crispe, a “technology futurist” (don’t worry, technology is moving fast, solutions ahead!)
  • Michael Granger, asked about performance bonds
  • Ben Kingsley, Prosperity for Vermont (approve)
  • Chris Williams, VCAN, NIRS (concerned about cost over runs)
  • Tim Smith, Franklin County MA Industrial Development Corp. (support, move forward)
  • Leslie Sullivan Sachs, Safe & Green Campaign (skeptical, goal should be greenest possible plan)
  • Vernon Planning Commission (excited about future use of site for new energy)
  • Zack, VT Law School student & Tunbridge farmer (due diligence and research)
  • John Field, Putney citizen (concerned about the companies — Areva bailout in France, Waste Control Specialists)
  • Betsy Williams, Safe & Green Campaign (no trust; bottom line: no cost to Vermont taxpayers)
  • Peter VanderDoes, New England Coalition (concerned about the companies — Areva bailout in France, Waste Control Specialists)
  • Lissa Weinmann, Brattleboro (leave nuclear waste on site until permanent solution)
  • Gary Sachs, Brattleboro (no rubblization: dilution is not solution to pollution)
  • Leo Schiff, Safe and Green Campaign (concerns about nuclear waste)
  • Lorie Cartwright, Brattleboro (skeptical, due diligence needed)
  • Ned Childs, New England Coalition
  • Clay Turnbull, New England Coalition

A second PSB public hearing will be held in September, after evidence is submitted by Entergy, NorthStar and the 8 intervenors to the sale docket.

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