I wrote an op-ed about the state's agreement with Entergy about decommissioning. I published it on this blog, and it was also published on Vermont Digger. On Vermont Digger, the title was Entergy Settlement Before the PSB is Good for the State. It had a lively comment stream on Vermont Digger.
|Governor Peter Shumlin|
However, in the course of the negotiations, I suspect the state learned some facts about decommissioning.
Two anti-nuclear commentators called my statement: "patronizing bunk." They claimed that the state was well-versed in decommissioning from the start. The state didn't have to learn anything.
Well, I begged to differ.
Here is part of the answer I posted, with slight edits.
I was not simply being patronizing. When I wrote: “the state learned something about decommissioning,” you thought I was referring to the DPS (Department of Public Service). Actually, I was referring to Governor Shumlin. I was not clear, which was my fault. But then again, I tend to use locutions like “the state” to avoid finger-pointing at individuals.
Perhaps, instead of being vaguely snarky, I should be more direct, even if it turns out a bit more pointed at one man. Frankly, this would have been uncomfortable for me to write originally, but I am writing it to show what I was thinking about.
Below, I have written something more accurate, more pointed, and with references. Perhaps I should have written the material below, instead.
About Governor Shumlin
What I should have written:
And, it looks like over the years, Governor Shumlin himself is learning something about decommissioning. Here’s one of his press conferences from 2011:
The title includes SHUMLIN SAYS SAFSTOR WASN’T PART OF DEAL WITH ENTERGY. The article includes Governor Shumlin arguing with reporters who quote the MOU at him. It’s kind of funny, if it weren’t sad.
From the same press conference, but this time a direct quote from Shumlin:
“The jobs gap doesn’t really happen for about 16 years,” he said. “Five to six years for the plant to cool down, gotta keep all the systems running, that requires a number of employees, several hundred. And ten years of decommissioning. So the jobs cliff, despite what they tell you in those 30 second advertisements, is not as significant as long as they keep their promise on decommissioning the plant whenever it shuts down.”
The Governor is Learning
Recently, the Governor has had to eat his words and acknowledge SAFSTOR is allowed. He has had to acknowledge that the plant will not keep running for five or six years with several hundred employees. It is nobody’s fault but his own that he said these absurd things at a press conference. Nobody forced him to make such a fool of himself.
You gotta give the man credit, though, Shumlin is learning. Maybe the learning didn’t happen at the negotiations, maybe it did. Maybe it happened before. I should not have said “when” it happened, because I don’t know. But he’s gone from myth-based “hundreds of people for five-six years” to “everything will be in dry casks within seven years.” He has more of a grasp of reality now. I don’t know and should not have said exactly when he learned these things. But he is learning.
I want to say something though about his advisers. Where were they? Surely someone could have told him the facts of life about the M O U and what happens during decommissioning. Apparently, nobody did. People just let him go out there and say a bunch of things that simply are not true. He is learning, for sure. Are his advisers learning?"
Updated: The Dry Casks. Vermont Digger Special Report on Decommissioning
I wrote a draft of this a few days ago, but I didn't post it because I was busy with our daughter's book launch.
Yesterday, Vermont Digger published a special report on remaining areas of disagreement between Vermont Yankee and the state agencies in Vermont. John Herrick wrote Despite Recent Agreement, State and Entergy Remain at Odds Over Funding for Dismantling Vermont Yankee.
According to this article, the state is concerned that Entergy may use decommissioning funds to move used fuel from the fuel pool to dry casks. Attorney General Sorrell says that If Entergy elects to remove money from the fund, Sorrell said the state will take legal action. Mr. Sorrell apparently thinks that moving fuel to dry casks is not part of decommissioning: the state wants the decommissioning fund reserved for "tearing down the plant."
Umm...last I looked, only the NRC could say what a decommissioning fund can or cannot be used for.
Sigh. I thought the state had learned that the federal government, not the state, is responsible for regulating decommissioning and nuclear safety. Oh well.
Maybe they are not learning as fast as I thought they were learning.