With Vermont Yankee shutdown coming soon, the state government is getting busy appointing people to advise about, supervise, and generally harass the decommissioning project. Okay, okay, maybe that's too strong a way to describe it. Instead, perhaps I can just borrow the headline from a recent article in the Greenfield, MA, Recorder. Anti-nukers on Vt. Yankee Advisory Panel.
Well, that was a short blog post. I guess I can quit now...
No, wait! I still have things to talk about. There are good things, there are bad things, and there are...ugly things.
|Smiley from Wikipedia|
The New Panel: The old Vermont Nuclear Safety Advisory Panel (VSNAP) is being replaced by the newly-mandated Nuclear Decommissioning Citizen Advisory Panel. Howard Shaffer describes the new panel in his blog post at ANS Nuclear Cafe: The Latest Sop to Nuclear Opponents.
(Gosh, the titles of the links aren't getting any better, are they?)
In his post, Shaffer notes that the old panel was pretty much a straight Vermont-Yankee-bashing experience. The new panel may be better. The panel is larger, and includes representatives from Entergy and from the Vermont Yankee union (IBEW). Also, there will be representatives from neighboring states. Hopefully, the presence of these panel members will keep the panel from being a complete anti-nuclear attack-dog, the way VSNAP was in the past. As Shaffer describes it in his post, in the days of the VSNAP panel: The plant was in the position of being a witness to be cross-examined. There was no appeal to the panel’s findings. The meetings were covered in detail by the regional press. The panel, in effect, became a vehicle for anti-nuclear publicity.
With an expanded membership, hopefully the new decommissioning panel will be more than a kangaroo court.
The New Engineer: Vermont has always had a state nuclear engineer to advise the legislator. In my opinion, Vermont didn't always pick the most qualified person, but that is just my opinion. To my surprise, the newly-appointed state nuclear engineer is actually a qualified nuclear engineer. Oops, I forgot. The "nuclear engineer" job title has been changed to "decommissioning coordinator."
In the Rutland Herald (reprinted in The Recorder), Susan Smallheer reports about the new hire: Get to know Vt's decommissioning coordinator. Anthony Leshinskie is a nuclear engineer, who used to work at Palo Verde. In the article, Leshinskie is quoted as saying that Vermont Yankee appears to be a well-run plant, and he does not see the work force as demoralized. He notes that Entergy is not scrimping on continuous training (which makes the workers more attractive to new employers). Leshinskie said he was concerned that his role would be "anti-nuclear" but is now reassured that his job is technical, not political.
Ray Shadis, a long-time nuclear opponent, doesn't seem completely happy with this appointment. A quote from the Smallheer article: What Vermont or any ‘reactor-occupied community’ does not need is a bureaucratic pussycat,” said Shadis. (Shadis did not actually accuse Leshinskie of being a pussy-cat, but Shadis is obviously worried about something here.) Shadis emphasized that he believes that a state nuclear engineer should be a critic.
Governor Shumlin, the President Pro Tem of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House appointed the six citizen panelists, all of whom are serving three or four-year terms. Vermont Business Magazine names the panelists in the article Shumlin, Campbell, Smith announce appointments to the Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel. As far as I can tell, a major qualification for these appointments was that the panelist was opposed to Vermont Yankee.
One of the panelists is David Deen, a legislator with a long history of opposing Vermont Yankee. He claims that the plant overheats the Connecticut River. In this article Deen describes Vermont Yankee as operating under a "zombie" water permit. He claims it has a fifty-five mile thermal plume that extends way downstream, keeping its thermal integrity of heating the river...all the way past the Vernon dam.
A second panelist, Derrik Jordan, is described as "a musician and social activist" by the Speaker of the House, who appointed him.
I don't know everyone on the panel, but I fear that the ones I don't know are probably of the same opinions as the ones I do know. For today, however, enough is enough.
At one meeting, people came in costume. A costumed man and woman pretended to have sex while pro-nuclear people were speaking, distracting the crowd. At other meetings, members of the panel paced around and shouted "I am tired of being lied to!" They shouted down the chairman, who was attempting to keep the panel moving by Robert's Rules of Order. In another case, a panel member physically wrestled the microphone away from the chairman.
I was pretty naive then, and I couldn't believe what I was seeing. But I saw it.
The meetings calmed down when the chairman of VSNAP was appointed by Governor Shumlin. There was no longer a reason to intimidate him or her. When the chairman was appointed by Shumlin, it meant that the agenda could be followed, with minimum interruptions.
My fear of the ugly. Now we have Entergy members and union members on the panel. That could be great or not-great. Great: maybe the new members can contribute. Not-great: once again, the panel includes people worth intimidating
Will the bad old days come again? I hope not, but I fear that they may.