Sunday, December 23, 2012

A Safe Plant and the Same Few Protestors: Guest Post by Steve Moriarty

Hello.  My name is Steve Moriarty; I live in Greenfield, MA and have worked at VY for 34+ years.

Prior to that, I worked all around NE for New England Power Service Co., a construction company that services all NE plants.

My background is electrical construction/maintenance, Materials Management, Quality Assurance and Quality Control.

In that first job, I traveled from fossil plant to fossil plant in NE.  Some were oil and some were coal.  I also work at a few Hydro stations.

In 1977 I was assigned to VY. When I first visited the site I was pleasantly surprised.  It was clean, organized and run proficiency.

It was nothing like the dirty fossil plants that I was working in previously.

I soon saw that extraordinary attention was and continues to be paid to safety of the public, workers, and environment.

Procedure adherence was not an option it was and continues to be the standard operating procedure.

I was so impressed by the workplace and the personnel at VY; that I took a permanent position at VY and have been here since (now 39+ years combined service).

I met and married my wife, raised two children in Franklin County.

The bulk of my state taxes are paid to VT.

My daughter worked here as a summer employee while attending college.  She is a Microbiologist and is now married with two healthy and happy children.

My son is a Mechanical Engineer.  He worked here for two summers as an intern, and that experience set him up for success.  He too, is now married and healthy.

I would not have allowed either to work here, if I didn't truly believe it was a good and safe place to work.

Both of my children and my wife cannot believe the day to day difficulty that I must go through as a nuclear worker just to be able to do my job.

This defensive posture, that all nuclear workers are forced to assume, is not a daily task of workers in most professions.

My son noted that "there really aren't many young people speaking out  against your plant".   This was based on discussions over the nuclear  option at UMASS Amherst, while at college.

I got to thinking, and I too realized that I have been looking at the same faces for 10-20-30 years. (i.e. really not a lot of people speaking out against Nuclear, "just the same few").

I also asked my son him what he has heard at college and in the workplace, relative to nuclear power and its future, and his response was that many students in the Engineering program and engineering professionals are in favor of nuclear as a viable green source of energy.

Some, of course, like the idea of wind, solar, or hydro; but they also realize the nuclear power is needed, as well.

One thing that was agreed on was that this country's reliance on coal and oil was something they don't want.

They all seem to be very concerned about the environmental damage being done by fossil fuel, let alone the problems associated with obtaining those fuels.

So, what's the point?  The point is that if "these same few" spent as much energy on working with us to make the next generation of nuclear power plants even better, we all could gain.

It may be time to stop the 10-20-30++++ years of protesting and redirect that energy toward valuable and welcomed input to the future, all of our futures.

Nuclear power is here, it has proven its value, and it can be even more valuable to the environment and our energy demands into the future.

Thank you for your consideration, and I hope you see the real value of allowing Entergy-Vermont Yankee to operate into the future.


Steve Moriarty wrote this statement by email and submitted it to the Public Service Board on Docket 7862.  He was kind enough to send me a copy to be used as a guest post.  Moriarty's post and Stuart Endsley's recent guest post are boots-on-the-ground comparisons of nuclear and fossil plants.  Their words may be well known to utility workers, but they cover a subject that you rarely see in print.  Endsley's post: Acid and Air, the Environmental Effects of Non-Nuclear Electricity. 


Kit P said...

“It was clean, organized and run proficiency. ”

Lucky for Steve that is first plant was not on the NRC watch list like Rancho Seco or Fermi. After the navy and several BWRs my assumption was that all nukes were clean, organized and run proficiency.

I have only been at one plant that burned carbon. One the habits I have is checking the little things not on the tour route. I stepped off the tour route and checked to see how they maintained isolation valves for a small steam trap. A navy navy nuke machinist would have been proud.

One of the traps of nuclear professions is thinking they are somehow better.

Meredith Angwin said...

Kit P

Well, yes, Vermont Yankee has never been on a watch list, and very few nuclear plants have been. As you say, most are clean, organized, and run very proficiently.

About plants that burn carbon. Many of them are run VERY well, and many of them are run by former Navy Nukes (a heat engine is a heat engine is a heat engine).

But, as Moriarty says, fossil plants are NOT as clean. When we visited the Merrimack Station, for example (I blogged about it) I was very impressed with everything about the plant. However, I am an older woman and I hold on to the railings when going up and down metal staircases. Therefore, my hands were seriously filthy after the tour. There is coal dust around, a lot of it, even at a beautifully run plant. In a nuclear plant, you could eat off the floor. This matters. It really does. Coal dust is not the best thing to breathe.

Coal plants use vast quantities of coal, and they use a lot of toxic, acidic of basic clean-up chemicals.

Okay. I think nuclear plants are superior, in many ways. We can agree to disagree on that, if you want. I do understand that you don't like to see any kind of power plant "dissed." But Moriarty worked at fossil plants, and you have only visited one, as I read your note. I personally defer to Moriarty on this issue.