Sunday, June 27, 2010

Vermont Yankee: Worth the Effort

The new blog, Nuclear Townhall, has an excellent feature: the debate of the week. The most recent debate was Should Atlas Shrug? The question was simple:

Should we fight for older, embattled plants?

Perhaps we should simply allow Vermont Yankee, Indian Point and Oyster Creek to close. We should let people see the consequences of losing baseload power.

The essay about allowing the plants to be shut down down was written by William Tucker, a strong nuclear supporter and author of the book Terrestrial Energy. Tucker floated the idea that one of the best arguments for nuclear might be-- the bad things that will happen when the plants are closed.

Keep the Plants Running

Seventeen comment posts answered this essay. Most disagreed strongly with the idea that a few old plants don't matter. Of course, I added my voice to the vote in favor of keeping these plants operating.

Here are some other excellent comments on that essay:
  • Neutron Nerd said: And assuming these plants operate reliably, these local challenges can be test cases for our message, raison d’etre and the strength of our business case. Shame on us if we fail, particularly given the dynamics of these states and their dependence on nuclear energy.
  • Dan Yurman pointed out: I disagree that the older plants should be sacrificed to appease critics of nuclear energy. The loss of one plant will set off a domino effect that could cascade through the industry. The reason is once you start closing plants because of age, where do you draw the line. How old is not old enough?
  • Rod Adams added these words: One thing we need to do is figure out a way to help people like Meredith fight for continuing operations against organizations who - so far - appear to have unlimited resources in their fight to shut down the plants. The really amazing thing in Vermont is that the state laws actually put the burden on Entergy to fund the efforts of people like Arnie Gundersen and Peter Bradford.
  • Gwyneth Cravens noted : Indian Point has a dedicated line to the NYC subway system and to government-held buildings. Only fossil fuel combustion could replace that nuclear plant. ...When I say to people who belong to Riverkeeper, which has been actively trying to shut down Indian Point for years, that they’re campaigning for increased fossil fuel combustion, they come up with tortured arguments to the contrary and speak in vague terms about more renewables, like water turbines in the East River. They do not understand what base-load is.
The Seabrook Cartoon

All of these posts in favor of operating plants were confirmed (in my eyes) by a cartoon in my local paper this morning. The cartoon was by Mike Marland for the Concord Monitor. It shows "Seabrook" holding a request to extend power generation and also pointing to figure labelled "Vermont Yankee." However, the "Vermont Yankee" figure is leaking, leaning on a cane, alarms are going off (clang clang clang) etc.

As that cartoon points out, the fate of Vermont Yankee will affect Seabrook. If anti-nuclear activists are successful at shutting down Vermont Yankee, Seabrook and Indian Point will be next.

Vermont Yankee and My Gentle Readers

Most of the arguments on the posts were based on the facts that we need these plants for day-to-day life, and that shutting down some plants can lead to shutting down more plants.

Do we have some more specific arguments we can make in favor of Vermont Yankee? Of course I have, but I'm always talking in this blog. I want to hear your opinions.

A statue of Atlas holding up the world, from Santiago de Compestela. Should he shrug?

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