16 NRC representatives faced a mostly hostile crowd of 60 local citizens on Wednesday evenin’s annual safety assessment of Vermont Yankee. Many who attended were feeling the sting of the NRC decision, announced the day before, that spent fuel could ‘safely’ sit in the over-crowded fuel pools rather than be moved to dry casks storage. VPR the Keene Sentinel and Brattleboro Refomer covered the hearing, as did Greenfield Recorder and the Rutland Herald (paywalled so we can’t share those here).
The NRC’s opening program included a simplistic ten minute slide show presentation on decommissioning. The NRC was clearly not prepared to respond to educated citizens who follow the issues closely, and have attended three-hour workshops of their own. Schuyler Gould of Barre, Lissa Weinmann, Clay Turnbull, Diana Sidebotthom and others came prepared with lists of recurring safety issues at the reactor; they were brushed off by the NRC. Bill Dean, the Region 1 head administrator, was unprepared for the heat. His claim that he could “personally assure” us of our safety” was met with skepticism and accusations of lying. He took that personally.
Here’s a typical scene, courtesy of the Keene Sentinel:
John A. Ward of Gill, Mass., asked panelists if they knew how many spent fuel rods the pool at Vermont Yankee was originally designed to hold. A brief delay followed as NRC officials consulted each other.
“Come on! You can do it!” Sachs taunted.
Rutenkroger finally said the number was between 500 and 600.
Ward then asked how many rods were there now, and what ratio it had increased by.
Rutenkroger said about 3,900 spent fuel rods are in the pool now, about seven or eight times as many as the pool had originally been designed to handle, although he assured Ward that each time Entergy proposed adding more rods to the pool, they had to meet certain NRC requirements to do so.
Undeterred by rules against signs and such, he Shut It Down ladies brought new toys to the hearing: cheap buttons bought at Staples that laugh loudly when pressed.
This is most likely the last time the NRC will be in town until it hosts a community forum to respond to Entergy’s decommissioning plan, in a couple years.