Uphold high standards with Vermont Yankee cleanup

Friday, January 05, 2018

Paul Hawken, the author of “The Ecology of Commerce,” has written that the planet came with a manual of operating instructions which we seem to have lost. The instructions included: don’t contaminate the soil, poison the water and the air, watch for overpopulation and don’t turn up the thermostat.

There has been a movement afoot to find that manual, to work to compensate for the damage that has already been done, and to develop what Hawken calls a new operating system for the planet. Businesses world wide are moving in a more socially and environmentally responsible direction. There is the opportunity to be part of this movement and advocate for increased environmental stewardship of the land on which Vermont Yankee is sited.

Throughout time, many cultures have lived more in accordance with the rules Paul Hawken references. The Great Law of the Iroquois, for example, wisely cautions us to think seven generations ahead in order to determine whether the decisions made in our time will benefit the children living in that future time. We have to wonder — will the land at the Vermont Yankee site be clean enough for them? What about the water? Yankee sits on the Connecticut River, over a watershed which feeds the farms of western Massachusetts and beyond. Radioactive waste must be safely isolated from the environment for thousands of years.

There has been a long chain of broken promises and false assurances about the safety of nuclear plants. We have witnessed the accidents at Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and most recently, Fukushima. Vermont Yankee has also had its share of accidents and safety concerns over the years. It is wise to take this track record into consideration as we deal with the stewardship of the land in the decommissioning process going on now.

It is important to ensure that NorthStar’s current plans to lower the clean up standards will not be implemented. This would set a dangerous precedent for the decommissioning of other nuclear plants. New England Coalition is advocating for the New England Standard at Yankee — namely that the clean up be held to the same residual radiological standards as the three other decommissioned nuclear plants in the region.

Vermont deserves no less.

Amelia Shea

New England Coalition