Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Decommissioning Meeting Wednesday Night in Brattleboro

The Meeting and the NRC

There's a meeting of the Nuclear Decommissioning Citizen Advisory Panel (NDCAP) on Wednesday night in Brattleboro. The meeting will start at 6 p.m. at the Quality Inn and Conference Center, on Vernon Road in Brattleboro. Here's a link to the agenda.

As you may note, this is an unusual meeting because a representative from NRC will be there. NDCAP itself will continue to have meetings forever, though the Rockies may crumble and Gibraltar may tumble...no, not that long.  Wrong song.

The meeting tomorrow night may well be an important meeting, because it is during the period when the NRC is taking comments on the Vermont Yankee Decommissioning Plan, the Post Shutdown Decommissioning Activities Report, aka the PSDAR. And a representative from the NRC will be there, which is always quite a draw for the opponents.  (See my post on one of the NRC-sponsored meetings: The Politics of Intimidation.)

Update Note: I originally wrote that NDCAP would have "monthly" meetings forever.  Howard Shaffer corrected this.  He informed me that NDCAP has had monthly meetings recently, since so much is going on, but the group is only required to have four meetings a year.  So they will have meetings forever, but not monthly meetings.

Sources of Information, and What to Say

Vermont Yankee has an excellent web site on decommissioning, including links to the PSDAR. The Public Service Department also a good site, with links to presentations at NDCAP meetings.  And a big Hat's Off to Howard Shaffer, for his submission to NDCAP. There were two presentations to NDCAP by nuclear opponent groups, and Howard also has a presentation.  (See December 18 meeting notes.)

The bad news is you can spend a week reading pages and pages of information about this meeting. But, if you go to the meeting, you will only get probably two minutes to say anything at all. What might you say?

My advice would be to say that with the plant shut down, and all fuel in the pool, the emergency planning zone (EPZ) no longer needs to be in effect at the time when the NRC says it doesn't need to be in effect.  In other words, the EPZ can be shut down in early 2016.

EPZ Controversy

Well, it isn't a controversy.  All nuclear people (plant, NRC etc) agree that when the fuel has been in the fuel pool for about a year, it becomes too cool to start a fire.  At that point, the emergency planning zone no longer needs to be funded.  However, the opponents are eager to have all nuclear plants spend as much money as possible and keep the emergency planning and so forth in place forever.

Or at least, they think that the EPZ should be in place until Gibraltar tumbles and...wait.  Wrong song!  No, actually, it may be the right song.

The VY Decommissioning page includes an analysis of the public comments received by the Public Service Board about the PSDAR.  You will note that the majority of the comments:

  • Request EPZ until all fuel is in dry casks
  • Request EPZ until all spent fuel is offsite, maybe in Yucca Mountain
  • Request EPZ expansion to fifty miles.
If you go to the meeting, explain perhaps that the fuel pool will not be a danger...just about the time when the NRC says it will not be a danger.  And that the EPZ can go away....just about the time that the NRC says it no longer needs to be funded!  These dates are calculations, not coincidence. 

Will I Be At the Meeting?

Probably not.  I have to admit that I have lost my taste for watching people walk up to the microphone and endlessly repeat that they are terrified about the fuel pool. The plant is not operating. They won, and I don't want to watch them anymore.  Also,  I have lost my taste for being intimidated, and the presence of someone from the NRC may lead the opponents to having more fun (so to speak) than a normal meeting.

However, Howard Shaffer said he may go, and I may go also.  Shaffer is a real trooper, filing testimony to partially balance the testimony of the opponents. I haven't decided about this meeting. Luckily, the blizzard didn't really blizzard here, the way it blizzarded in Massachusetts. So I could go, I guess.

A lot to think about.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You could say that there is not much chance of a fire right now. Insert exaggerated skidding sound effect here, whats that you say? A Zirconium reaction fire can only occur on clean non oxidized surface. The minute you immersed the fuel in water, and increasingly once it is heated the fuel is covered in a layer of oxidized zirconium. The youngest fuel in the pool has been in an operating reactor for at least 633 days it is completely oxidized on the surface. Even if it were uncovered and uncooled for a sufficient time to allow clean zirconium to have the reaction that leads to a fire it can't. The oxide is tightly adhered to the fuel surface lest you say oh it could get polished up and have a fire (it would be difficult to remove the oxide). The date in April 2016 was picked based on there being insufficient decay heat left in the fuel to cause the reaction which can't happen in the 1st place. Again assuming the plant would let the fuel remain uncovered for a long time period without taking any action to cool it (note I purposely say cool it not cover it). So requiring the E-Plan based on the Zirc Fire is a straw horse and a waste of money that could be building the decommissioning fund. In reality what the people insisting the E-Plan be maintained are doing is counterproductive to what they claim they ultimate want. The Alice in Wonderland politics continue oh science damn thee!