I think Vermont Yankee will continue to operate, but the opponents are having a great deal of fun planning the decommissioning. There was a big meeting in Brattleboro late last month, with all sorts of speeches and excitement from the opponents. Howard Shaffer attended and blogged about it at the ANS Nuclear Cafe this week. Quoting that blog:
They demanded a “Citizens Oversight Panel” to allow them to dig in to the process, and in the words of one of the panelists, Ray Shadis, to “advocate.” It turns out that this means agitate for unrealistically low post cleanup exposure standards. They achieved this in the past by getting state standards to be lower than the Nuclear Regulatory Commission standard. This has had the effect of making decommissionings much more expensive. They boasted that, regarding the decommissionings of Maine Yankee and Yankee, the owners had to go back to the ratepayers for more money, which will be in the ratepayers’ bills for years.
I think it is only fair to note that Ray Shadis commented on this post:
I regret that I may have left you with the impression that environmental and safety enhancements we advocated at Maine Yankee drove up big costs. That was not the case.
Since I am quoting Ray, I will also quote something else. Howard emailed me that Ray made this statement at the meeting. I trust Howard to be an accurate reporter.
"We had them by the short hairs because we were intervenors." Ray Shadis
Howard also picked up a handout from the Vermont Citizen's Action Network and Citizen's Awareness Network, two related organizations. This handout about decommissioning was distributed at the meeting. Here's a quote:
Although waiting the proposed twenty years cuts costs and lowers worker exposure, Entergy shouldn't be trusted. Its systemic mismanagement and dishonesty makes delaying cleanup too dangerous. (emphasis added by blogger)
Apparently, in their view, increasing worker exposure is not "dangerous." Something else (delaying?) is dangerous to someone (intervenors?). Workers are a kind of untermenschenen whose safety does not matter.
Well, I could go on. For example, there's a whole anti-Yankee program to get towns in other states involved. I'm not going to review that effort in this post.
The Green Fields of Vernon?
An important part of the anti-Vermont Yankee agenda is to have decommissioning done to "greenfield" standards, instead of traditional NRC standards. In greenfield standards, the site basically becomes a park, with little trace of its industrial past. In traditional decontamination, most of the site can be released for other uses within a few years. In other words, new industrial facilities can be built there. After all, the site probably has switch yards, areas for water cooling of various processes, etc. It would be a great site for another industry.
The actual citizens of Vernon, many of whom work at the plant, have applied for a grant to study options if the plant closes. According to the Brattleboro Reformer, they plan to:
look into scenarios without the plant on-line, such as analyzing tax incentives for new industries, potential redevelopment of the site and reviewing how other towns dealt with closing of a nuclear plant.
The people in Vernon would rather have a new plant on-site than a park. They won't have this option if the intervenors once again grab the short hairs.
This whole thing made me think a bit about who the intervenors are. Shadis is a regular commuter from his home in Maine. Katz lives in Massachusetts. People come in from all over to fight against Vermont Yankee. From the testimony of their own brochures, these people don't give a hoot about the health of people who work at the plant. They don't think that the people in Vernon are citizens who might choose to make land-use decisions for their own town.
My advice to the intervenors. If you want a park where the plant is located in Vernon, get the idea onto the Warning for the Vernon Town Meeting. That's the traditional Vermont thing to do.
Oh, you can't do that because you don't live in Vernon? Aw shucks. Lemme tell you about how we do things in Vermont. It's not Massachusetts or Louisiana, you know.
Image of dry cask storage from NRC student information area.