Shumlin did it again. He made massively incorrect statements. Then he ran with them. Today's Shumlin statements cannot be blamed on the poor tongue-tied politician vainly attempting to deal with a fierce and unanswerable Fox News reporter. Shumlin did this one all by himself. He issued a press release, quoted below:
Message to Entergy Louisiana – “You are in Vermont – Not China”
Montpelier , Vt. – Entergy Louisiana announced it is now imposing “new guidelines” for journalists. Entergy will now have a “caddy” that will control all cameras and video cameras on site and will confiscate all cameras and review stills and video footage. Entergy Louisiana will then return cameras ‘at time to be determined’ by Entergy.
The new guidelines would have prevented Vermonters from ever seeing the picture of the collapsing Cooling Tower or the transformer fire. Without these photos Vermonters would never have known about the level of deferred maintenance occurring at the plant.
“These new tactics disguised as ‘guidelines’ more resemble actions of governments like The Republic of China. Entergy Louisiana’s actions make it impossible to believe them when they say, they are committed to being more open and transparent, “said Senate President Peter Shumlin. “This is not the Vermont way!”
Entergy was forced to allow a group of intervenors to take a tour during the outage. The intervenors were bringing their cameras, and Entergy wanted to restrict the pictures they took. More specifically, they wanted to ban documentary film maker Robbie Leppzer from filming within the plant. The outcry against this decision was fierce, and Entergy backed down. They allowed the filmmaker on site, but insisted on reviewing all film taken within the plant. This is the background for Shumlin's press statement.
How is Shumlin Wrong? Let Me Count the Ways
First Error: These new tactics disguised as ‘guidelines’ more resemble actions of governments like The Republic of China. Actually, no. Every industrial facility restricts cameras on site. When we toured the coal plant, the rule was "no cameras." At any software company, the rule is "no cameras."
Oddly enough, freedom means that you can restrict people from taking pictures within your property. You can keep the people out. (No Trespassing!) You can keep the cameras out (No Cameras!) Or you can be very sweet and mild-mannered (We will review your pictures to be sure you are not showing proprietary information or information about security measures.) Entergy is being very sweet about this. In return, Shumlin is following the rhetorical fallacy of Reductio Ad Hilterum. Instead of Hitler, Shumlin is using China.
Second Error: The new guidelines would have prevented Vermonters from ever seeing the picture of the collapsing Cooling Tower or the transformer fire. Oh, for heaven's sakes, Mr. Shumlin. Those pictures weren't taken by the press. The press was nowhere around at the time.
When they were faced with a cooling tower collapse, do you think that the first thing VY staff did was call the Brattleboro Reformer? Of course not. Some people at VY took pictures to document the problem, others shut off the water. Now, the way the pictures got to the press is a bit mysterious, and they were "leaked" by sources before Entergy had a chance to distribute them. At least, that is the story I heard. I hope people who know more will correct this post if I am wrong. At any rate, press access to the plant had nothing to do with it.
Third Error: Without these photos Vermonters would never have known about the level of deferred maintenance occurring at the plant. Sure, Mr. Shumlin. Nobody would have told the NRC or issued a press release about the incidents. It would have been much better to simply have lots of gossip in Vernon and Brattleboro. Sure. That's the Shumlin view of how industrial facilities operate. Germany gets 30% of its "juice" from solar, and industrial facilities hide even the most obvious events (such as collapses and fires) from their regulators and the public.
Fourth Error: these pictures on their own say very little about the "level of deferred maintenance" at the plant. These incidents are not an advertisement for the plant, that is certain. But I think that the plant's recent 532-day-power run without significant time off-line or unscheduled outages says a great deal about the plant's general level of maintenance. It's one of the best power plants in the country.
Conclusion: Vermont Yankee is a good power plant, and Shumlin is a .... Okay, I don't want to go there...
Shumlin overstates himself.
Oh for heaven's sake. I had to read Terri Hallenbeck's blog on the subject to notice that Shumlin referred to the Republic of China (aka Taiwan) instead of the People's Republic of China (aka China or Red China). The Fifth Error. I am embarrassed that I didn't catch his mistake myself.