It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Macbeth was talking about his life, but he could have been talking about the upcoming Vermont Yankee relicensing vote.
Yesterday, my local paper had a top-of-the front page article: Many Vt Senators in the Valley Say They'll Vote Aganist Vt Yankee The article was in the Valley News Friday February 19, and was written by John Gregg. In this article, Senator Mark MacDonald says
"I think we'll vote no, and I don't think it will be close." However, a few sentences later, the article says "MacDonald also said a no vote was not necessarily a 'stake in the heart' of Vermont Yankee's future, since a vote in favor of Vermont Yankee could still potentially occur in 2011 or 2012. The company might also still take the matter to court."
(This paper does not keep a strong archive on-line, and this link may go dead fairly quickly. I have quoted the important part.)
In other words, the upcoming vote is advisory. A "no" vote would certainly be a set-back for Entergy. If the split takes place completely along party lines, a 23 to 7 vote would be a major setback. But, despite all this excitement, the vote means very little. The legislature can chose to vote the opposite way next year. Or the whole matter can go to court instead of being voted upon.
By the way, as usual in politics, the vote situation is not intuitively obvious. The bill that will be voted on would instruct the Public Service Board (PSB) to allow Vermont Yankee to operate past 2012. If the Senate votes no, the House does not see the bill, and the PSB is not instructed to renew Vermont Yankee's license. So, if they vote "no"- -basically, nothing happens. The PSB is not instructed in any way, though a 2006 law, passed by the Vermont legislature, says PSB must be instructed by the legislature in order to rule that continued operation of Vermont Yankee is in the best interests of Vermont.
I think this is going to be settled in court, but that is another blog post entirely.
Anti-Vermont Yankee efforts have been stepped up. For example, there have been ads and announcements in our local paper that the following event is taking place: (quoted from Valley News Calendar)
Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster, play reading and discussion by theater professionals and community leaders of the one-act play: 7 p.m., Montshire Museum of Science, 1 Montshire Road, Norwich. Free. Refreshments provided. 802-885-4826 or email@example.com.
In an ad for the performance, the title is "Should the (sic) Vermont Yankee be re-licensed."
I called the number, and discovered that this play is written by a Vermont woman and is being performed throughout Vermont, with "nuclear experts" in the audience. In speaking to Mr. Belenky on the phone, he assured me that these experts would have arguments that I would find "hard to counter." Unfortunately, I messed up the phone conversation by saying that I didn't really want to talk much about this, we wouldn't have much to say to each other, but I wanted to know more about the performances. This gave him the perfect opening to explain how everyone has to be open to dialog, and he never heard of someone saying something like this about a conversation etc.
This was my bad. It was completely my bad. I don't know why I am writing it here. Self-flagellation, I guess. Admission that I am suffering from a bit of burn-out. I do try to have a dialog. I really do. But a person can hear this junk about an RBMK reactor being just like a LWR reactor only so many times. I think I have heard it enough.
The charter of the Montshire Museum does not allow it to host political meetings. So I suppose this playreading about Chernobyl-and-Vermont-Yankee is considered educational.
Tomorrow afternoon, there's a big anti-VY meeting in Brattleboro, with a full cast of anti-VY groups. Here's the list from that announcement
Paul Gunter, executive director of the Washington, D.C., -based nuclear watchdog group, Beyond Nuclear;
David Dean, Vermont State Representative and Riverkeeper for the Connecticut River Watershed Council;
Clifford Hatch, organic farmer in Gill, Mass.;
Dr. Ira Helfand, co-founder and past president of Physicians for Social Responsibility;
Deborah Katz, executive director of Citizens Awareness Network;
Clay Turnbull, staff member of the New England Coalition on Nuclear Pollution; and
Chris Williams, organizer, Vermont Citizen Action Network.
Chris Williams used to be with Citizens Awareness Network. I think the Vermont Citizen Action Network is relatively new. Some of the Usual Suspects are not attending the rally tomorrow. VPIRG and the Union of Concerned Scientists seem to be missing. We face quite a crew around here.
And they are well-funded. There was a half-page, full color ad opposite the opinion page in our local paper, with the usual cooling tower picture and exhortations to write your legislature. I am sure this ad appeared in all local Vermont newspapers. Meanwhile, in electronic media, anything with the word nuclear triggers a Google Adsense ad to shut Vermont Yankee. I see this on most of the pro-nuclear blogs I read.
We are such a small state. 700,000 people, and not growing. Where does all this money come from?
Old News Or New?
Arnie Gundersen wrote a note about a phone call from an anonymous whistle blower claiming that Vermont Yankee repaired a leak in the same area two years ago. Vermont Digger has the story. I link to the document obtained from the Department of Public Service. This story will be heavily covered in future days, no doubt. We have faith that Mr. Gundersen is not being devious or dumb in sharing his report of the phone call.
Arnie Gundersen's statement about an anonymoous whistleblower is hearsay. It cannot be proven, but can be used to smear Entergy and the Vermont Yankee plant. It is an example of the "big lie" which once told acquires a life of its own.
Case in point - years ago Florida Rep. George Smathers was defeated in his first run for Congress when his opponent put up posters throughout rural parts of the district claiming, correctly, that Smathers' sister "was a practicing thespian in New York.' She was indeed an accomplished actress in her day.
Gundersen's "poster child" for Tritium releases is a similar public relations ploy. He needs to prove it.
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