OpEd for the Greenfield Recorder 02.02.15
When Vermont Yankee nuclear plant shut down on Dec. 29, 2014, the threat to public safety did not end, in fact it may have increased. The temporary spent fuel pool is now holding 4 times as much spent fuel as it was designed to hold (close to 3,000 spent fuel rods), on top of a 7 story building, covered with a thin metal roof. Highly radioactive fuel will continue to be moved through 2020 from the over-packed spent fuel pool high above the reactor, into dry cask storage and we need to be protected.
With VY downsizing its staff, is there enough security and oversight to protect citizens from terrorist threats? And, if we lose power due to severe weather or if the grid goes down for any reason, will the back-up generators be sufficient to cool the spent fuel pool to ensure public safety? These questions are important to consider especially after 9/11 and the disaster at Fukushima, Japan (a plant that was the same Mach 1 Boiling Water Reactor as VY). In fact, the US government advised US citizens in Japan within 50 miles to evacuate.
There are several towns in MA within the 10 mile radius of VY and within their Emergency Planning Zone (EPZ): Greenfield, Bernardston*, Northfield, Warwick, Leyden*, Colrain and Gill (* entire town in the EPZ). Entergy, the parent company of VY, has applied to the Nuclear Regulartory Commission (NRC) for an exemption that will allow it to end funding for the EPZ. The EPZ has in place a protective action plan designed to avoid/reduce potential exposure to radioactive materials, by including sheltering, evacuation, and the use of potassium iodide when appropriate. Also, Entergy has asked for an exemption that would increase the present 15 minute warning time to 60 minutes!
We should all oppose these 2 exemptions, as they affect our safety. The Greenfield Town Council has passed a resolution and other towns within the EPZ have written letters which oppose granting these 2 exemptions, and sent them to the NRC, federal and state representatives and senators, Vermont Dept. of Public Service, Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency and Gov. Baker. Of course, you can contact these people and agencies yourself to make your voice heard.
The deadline to get your comments to the NRC is Feb. 9. Please write to the NRC to express your concerns and tell them to deny Entergy’s request for exemptions. You can comment directly to the NRC on-line at: https://federalregister.gov/a/2015-01707
. Click the green button to submit a formal comment.
Please send your comments today and feel free to use any of this information. You don’t need to live within the EPZ to do so. We all live close enough to VY to be affected.
It’s important to note—-The next NRC public hearing to discuss and answer questions regarding decommissioning of Vermont Yankee will take place on Feb. 19 at the Quality Inn , Putney Rd., Brattleboro, VT (north of Exit 3 of Rt. 91) from 6 to 9 p.m. The public is welcome to attend, give input and ask questions.
Submitted by Sandra Kosterman, Greenfield, MA —a concerned citizen