May 29, 2014
I decided not to go to the meeting. This morning, Susan Smallheer wrote an article about it in the Rutland Herald. This article is behind a paywall, but here's a short quote:
Activists brought "laugh track" buttons that they used whenever there was a response from William Dean, the Region One administrator for the NRC, as well as others.
I am glad I skipped this meeting. With this kind of organized opposition, my presence would have done little good.
Okay. I admit it. If the plant was going to continue operating, I would have gone to the meeting anyway.
The Meeting and the Findings
Next week, the NRC will hold its annual public meeting to discuss the NRC's safety assessment of Vermont Yankee. The meeting will be held Wednesday, May 28, 2014, at 6:30 p.m. at the Brattleboro Union High School. You can follow the NRC link to the meeting information here.
From the meeting information, you can follow links to find the assessment letter that the NRC sent to Vermont Yankee. The plant is operating well. As reported in Vermont Digger, the NRC concluded that: "Overall, the Vermont Yankee plant...operated safely during 2013, with no findings exceeding very low safety significance. As a result, Vermont Yankee will continue to receive the NRC’s normal level of oversight for the remainder of 2014..."
In other words, everything is fine at the plant. Everything is probably not going to be fine at the NRC meeting.
This is not a picture of
Some opponents think the NRC couldn't do its job without their assistance. As reported in The Commons, one opponent said: “In my experience a good number of people at the NRC want to do the right thing, they want to be vigorous and fair regulators, but they need our help..."
Well, I suppose you could call it "help." Judging by previous years, many opponents don't actually "help." The NRC cannot seem to keep order at these meetings in Brattleboro.
This is what happens at the meetings. The NRC staff show up. There's a moderately civilized "science fair" until the major opponent groups show up. Then everyone goes into the meeting room. The opponents march around in costume and chant. The opponents shout at the NRC people. Then the meeting is over for another year.
I have reported on these NRC meetings several times in the past:
2012: NRC Public Meeting in Brattleboro: The Politics of Intimidation
2013: Speaking out of turn at the NRC meeting
In fairness to the opponents, not all of them march around and shout. Some opponents get pretty frustrated at these meetings, just as plant supporters get frustrated. Quieter voices can't get a word in edgewise.
Will I go to the meeting? Will I stay home? I don't know.
These meetings are unpleasant experiences, but I always go to support the plant. But since the plant is shutting down anyway, I am not sure it is worth the hassle. I mean, I am sure I'll see the new costumes and masks in a newspaper article or in Vermont Digger. It's not worth going to the NRC meeting just for the fashion show.
Do I urge plant supporters to go to the meeting? Since I am not sure if I will attend, I would be hypocritical if I urged everyone else to go. On the other hand, there are reasons to go. A supporter can visible and maybe have a small quote in one of the newspapers. That is worth something.
Still, the night of the NRC meeting is probably a great night to go out with a friend and see the movie Godzilla. If you're going to spend an evening worrying about radioactivity, at least you can have some fun. Afterwards, you can vote in the Nuclear Energy Institute poll: Is Godzilla Your Favorite Radioactive Monster? Since "radiation" makes most of the blockbuster movie monsters (and it makes some good guys, like Spider Man), you will have many monsters to consider.
The movie sounds like more fun than the NRC meeting.
I'm trying to make up my mind.