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Vermont Yankee decommissioning


Thursday, December 07, 2017

Most of the serious environmental problems we now face can be traced directly back to a lack of understanding or respect for the natural world. We are at a threshold when many people recognize the importance of reversing this trend and moving things forward in a more healthy direction — with more environmental respect and consciousness.

Throughout time, people who have lived close to the earth have regarded water as a source of life and sacred. During the Standing Rock protests, when people were trying to protect the drinking water for seventeen million people downstream, many of the protester’s signs read, “water is life.”

In 2014, after Vermont Yankee was shuttered, it was discovered that groundwater had been leaking into the turbine building. In early 2016, an NRC report revealed that the amount of water leaking into the building had become so substantial that Entergy had resorted to storing the radioactive water in portable swimming pools in the basement.

Plant officials have been trying to stop the leaks and have managed to stanch the flow of water leaking into the building to 500 to 600 gallons a day from the 2,500 to 3,000 gallons a day officials claim occurred at the height of the crisis.

When there have been problems at the plant over the years, it has often taken a significant amount of time to make the information public and to hold the company accountable. Given a track record like this, it seems wise to examine closely any agreements about the sale, decommissioning and the future of the site. Despite what might appear initially as beneficial financially, it’s best to consider the consequences of selling the plant to a company like North Star that has no experience in decommissioning full-scale commercial nuclear power plants like Yankee.

What is on the table here with both the proposed sale to North Star and the management of the radioactive waste left on the site is the question of how best to protect the residents, the land and the water long into the future from the harbingers of birth defects, cancer and genetic illness. New England Coalition is advocating for intensified environmental stewardship of the site and to let the land lie fallow after the cleanup in order to achieve that goal.

Amelia Shea

Brattleboro, Vt.