Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Editorial Against VY Acknowledges that Groups Against VY Are Not Telling the Truth

The Brattleboro Reformer is not known as a friend to Vermont Yankee. Most people at the plant refuse to read the paper, calling it the MisInformer. The Reformer editorial policy can be summarized in three words: Shut It Down!

So imagine my surprise when I read the July 14 editorial entitled: Just the facts, please.

Now, I don't want to oversell this editorial. It does not support VY's continued operation, and ends by urging people to give money to the most effective anti-VY groups.

But, in the meantime, this editorial lists and refutes the usual pack of lies told against VY. Here are the first few paragraphs:

The opponents of Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant’s continued operation are passionate, emotional and rightly concerned about the health of their children, themselves and the environment.

But many of the claims used to support their stance are not hard cold facts but rather exaggerations, misinformation and downright wrong, which do not serve their cause well.

For example, there were cries of distress when the Department of Health revealed that bones from fish caught near the power plant tested positive for strontium-90, proof the plant has been leaking radioactive materials into the environment.

A spokesman for the Vermont Department of Health told the public that the strontium levels were normal and within the background levels that are a result of the meltdown at Chernobyl and weapons testing that went on until 1965. Even the river steward of the Connecticut River Watershed Council, a fierce opponent to the plant’s continued operation, said the levels were normal.

The editorial goes on to refute several of the other calumnies against the plant and against nuclear power (the Tooth Fairy Project, the German children-get-leukemia study). It urges anti-plant activists to
  • stop throwing compost at people in meetings
  • stop pretending to copulate during public meetings
  • stop other antics which please the hard-core zealots, but repulse ordinary citizens
The editorial ends with this ringing suggestion:

So if you are opposed to the plant operating past 2012, put your money where your big mouth is, become better informed and stop the childish outbursts and juvenile foot stomping.

Wow. What happened in Brattleboro?

I think I know.

The Fish Turned

As the editorial noted, the Vermont Department of Health, and a well-informed anti-nuclear group (among others) noted that the fish in the Connecticut River contain only background levels of radioactive strontium. However, as I have noted in earlier posts, that has not prevented groups from marching in the Brattleboro Fourth of July parade as radioactive fish, showing up at meetings as radioactive fish, etc. It did not prevent Shumlin from stating that radioactive strontium was attacking the teeth of children in Vermont.

In a post called Destructive Lies, published in June, I stated that the lies of the anti-nukes were destroying the Vermont Brand. I think that when the (not) radioactive fish walked down the street in Brattleboro in the Fourth of July parade, other people also noticed this. (You can't help but notice a human-sized, three-eyed fish.) Other people saw this and became aware of what the anti-Vermont Yankee lies are doing to Vermont.

People in Brattleboro will no longer accept lies about contamination and dangers caused by VY.

Good News on Indian Point

I want to give a tip of the hat to Rod Adams, for his excellent post on pro-Indian Point citizens coming out to testify in New York. We can all learn from this! We have to be out there and visible.

Especially now that the fish has turned.


Greg Molyneux said...

Hi Meredith,

Kudos for giving Battleboro some credit. While they stand in opposition, they deserve respect for showing some real integrity and class in this case. Regardless of viewpoints, so much more would get accomplished if we all were more level-headed and informed.


The anti-VY forces are rightly embarrassed by the excesses of their most zany members.

They are simply trying to use this embarrassment as a "contributions pitch", for their 2 or 3 preferred groups.

Its ironic, and telling, to see them discriminate among, and cast off their own supporters as "too radical".

Kind of like Schickelgruber's "Night of the Long Knives".

Peter Alexander said...

The Reformer is right to advise against extreme antics and exaggeration on the part of the anti-nuke crowd. But it should be noted that the pro-nuke side also has its exaggerators and misinformers: eleven of the top officials at VY have been disciplined by Entergy for misleading the PSB and the legislature. I applaud a rational, truthful, and scientific approach to the question of nuclear power in general and VY in particular--an approach that weighs the various risks and benefits of continued operation. I think the VT Legislature has done that and (in spite of whatever anyone might say about Peter Shumlin) has voted correctly based on the fact that the management at VY cannot be trusted.

Howard Shaffer said...

The Scientific approach has led 32 governments to have nuclear power programs. There are 93 reactors under construction now.

22a-rbZD.007 said...

To say that because Entergy disciplined 11 employees, that this reshuffling "proves wrongdoing" is an egregious example of the distortions indulged in by the anti-VY cult.

Entergy simply chose the public's interest over that of the 11 endangered employees.

With a new crew in place, Entergy sought the truth, found it, and cured the leak.

Independent investigators found there had been no lying, no wrongdoing, no coverup, but the anti cult keeps manufacturing lying, wrongdoing, & coverup out of thin air.


Because that is their one single skill.

Meredith Angwin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Meredith Angwin said...

I would like to thank everyone who commented. I have been off-line for a few days.

Short replies:

Greg. I agree. I do try to give credit where it is due. I also give blame, when warranted!

Feed Burner. I am not quite as cynical about this. You see, if the Reformer had merely said "hey, don't throw manure around, don't disrupt public meetings, be civil" I might not have bothered posting it. I mean, that would have been nice, and long overdue, but still, just "be civil" should go without saying.

However, in this case, the Reformer repudiated the lies of the anti-VY crowd. This was very new. The Reformer pointed out that people are not keeling over from cancer in Windham County, that the parents of children in Vernon Elementary School are not practicing child abuse because the school is across of the plant, that the fish are not radioactive. To me, this honesty was completely unprecedented and very worthy of comment.

Peter, thank you for the note, but I find your comment a bit misleading. You say that the anti-nuke lies and the Entergy "lies" are the same. No, they are not.

In the anti-nuke camp, Ms. Gundersen made comments about radioactivity in fish. These comments were taken up by lots of people who then built fish costumes and so forth, despite the fact that these comments were completely false. The fishes have only background radioactivity.

And what happened? Nothing. Pro-nuclear groups pointed out her error, but no anti-nuke repudiated her comments (until this Reformer editorial). Nobody said her comments were "extreme". People just smiled and dressed as a fish to protest. As if what she said was actually true.

Meanwhile, Entergy employees have been cleared, by investigation after investigation, of deliberately lying. Yet they are still disciplined by Entergy and it is a big deal.

Exaggerations on both Falsehoods on the anti-nuke side, as long as it makes a good story (dress as a fish!) Mistakes on the Entergy side, mistakes which are punished. Sorry to be so blunt, but somebody has to say it.

Howard and 22a...I agree.