All the fuel has been removed from the Vermont Yankee reactor, and is now in the fuel pool. Please keep that in mind as you read the rest of this blog post.
Weather Update: I have heard that the opponent's meeting tonight in Brattleboro has been cancelled due to weather.
A Letter About the Increasing Danger
Ms. Kosterman is concerned with the spent fuel pool, the fact that Vermont Yankee is downsizing its staff, and the end of some types of planning and notification for the Emergency Planning Zone. Of course, she mentions the terrible situation of the Fukushima spent fuel pools where...well, actually, nothing happened at the Fukushima fuel pools, but she doesn't mention that.
A quote from Kosterman's letter:
With Vermont Yankee downsizing its staff, is there enough security and oversight to protect citizens from terrorist threats? And, if we lose power due to severe weather or if the grid goes down for any reason, will the backup generators be sufficient to cool the spent fuel pool to ensure public safety?
She recommends writing the NRC during the decommissioning comment period, and asking them to deny any request by Entergy that lowers the company's expenses for safety-related funding.
The State Says It Needs to Monitor the Fuel Pool
Well, yeah sure. That was a letter from a member of the local anti-nuclear campaign. Surely the state government takes a more realistic view?
Don't bet on it.
As I described in a recent post, the NRC allowed Vermont Yankee to downsize their data systems and staffing, now that the reactor is de-fueled. The state is officially worried about this. An article by John Herrick in Vermont Digger quotes Chris Recchia, Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Public Service, as follows:
(Recchia) said the state is evaluating an appeal to a decision by a federal panel that approved the elimination of the data system.
He said he has “deep concerns” about the safety of the plant without the state being able to monitor radiological conditions in the spent fuel pool..... Without the data management system, the state will not have real-time access to the conditions in the pool.
Apparently the state feels it needs and deserves real-time data on the fuel pool.
Gearing Up for the NRC Meeting
On February 19, in Brattleboro, the NRC will hold a meeting on the Vermont Yankee decommissioning report. (I recommend the Entergy's VY Decommissioning web site for access to all reports.) The opponents are gearing up for this meeting by hosting two preparatory meetings, one in Brattleboro on Monday February 9 (I have heard this meeting has been cancelled due to weather), and one in Montpelier on Wednesday February 11.
The opponents don't seem to know that the reactor is shut down. A quote from the Montpelier meeting announcement: With the slow motion Fukushima disaster highlighting the vulnerabilities of Mark 1 reactors, how will the state deal with the increased vulnerability of this aged reactor?
Hey guys....news flash! The reactor doesn't have fuel in it! The fuel has been removed! The reactor is no more vulnerable than any other large inert piece of metal. Sigh. Sometimes, "respecting your opponents" can be uphill work.
With or without my respect, the opponents are getting ready to confront the NRC again. Leslie Sullivan Sachs, a leader of an anti-nuclear campaign, wrote this letter to The Commons: You Don't Need to be a Rocket Scientist. Her letter focuses on being heard at the February 19 NRC meeting on Vermont Yankee decommissioning.
Another nuclear opponent, Clay Turnbull, wrote a comment on Sach's letter. Turnbull felt it was important to say that the February 19 NRC meeting will not be the last chance to take an important part in Vermont Yankee decommissioning. Here's part of Turnbull's comment on the Sachs letter (I can't seem to link directly to the comment.)
Point of clarification: NRC will be holding a Public Meeting, not a Public Hearing. In a meeting there is no test of truthfulness. In a hearing everything NRC says in under oath and on the record. .....whenever NRC licensing actions involve nuclear reactors, as it the case at Entergy Vermont Yankee, an opportunity to file requests for a hearing and to file a petition to intervene comes with that licensing action. Each time Entergy requests a licence amendment or exemption from regulations is an opportunity for the public to challenge that action with all parties under oath....the public meeting on Feb 19...(should be seen) as the beginning, rather than the end, of opportunities to engage NRC... [Edited to add: The writer is a staff member of the New England Coalition, an antinuclear organization based in Brattleboro.]
Note: Howard Shaffer also has a comment on the Sachs letter. His comment is excellent and worth reading.
Fear or money? My cynical impression on all of this
If a plant being decommissioned is as dangerous as an operating plant, then the fear goes on. And with the fear (with any luck), maybe their donations will go on, too.