Thursday, June 4, 2015

Straight facts about Vermont Yankee: Guest post by Martin Cohn

Clip art courtesy of
Jim Scherrer
A recent editorial in the Keene Sentinel claimed that Vermont Yankee is still a danger to its neighbors.  The editorial, NRC backs Entergy bid to turn off emergency data system at Vermont Yankee, begins with the following sentence:

Once again the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission appears ready to dismiss the health and safety of citizens in favor of keeping change in the pocket of Entergy Nuclear Corp.

Several Vermont Yankee supporters wrote letters answering this editorial.  This blog is proud to feature some of their letters.

Vermont Yankee 

by Martin Cohn

Decommissioning a nuclear power facility is very complicated. Given all the filings submitted to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, it is understandable that the media, as well as the general public, can be confused.

This is clearly the case in your recent editorial (“NRC backs Entergy bid to turn off emergency data system at Vermont Yankee,” May 20). The Atomic Safety and Licensing Board ruled on May 18, 2015, against the State of Vermont’s request to have a hearing on Entergy’s license amendment request (LAR) to reduce emergency planning requirements at Vermont Yankee.

This decision was reached because “neither in its pleadings nor at oral argument was Vermont able to articulate a challenge to any aspect of the LAR — independent of Entergy’s exemption request — that set forth sufficient factual support or raised a genuine dispute with the application.”

This decision has nothing to do with another filing written in the editorial about Vermont Yankee’s Emergency Response Data System, a system that was not used in the hostile-based action drill conducted last week by Entergy, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and all three states. This drill was praised by all involved.

The facility is in a permanently defueled status. This means that there is no fuel in the reactor. Around April of 2016, once the spent fuel has cooled for 15.4 months, it is unnecessary to maintain the same level of emergency planning as when the plant was operating.

Safely decommissioning Vermont Yankee is a top priority of Entergy — not only for our employees but also our surrounding communities. We invite representatives of the Keene Sentinel editorial board to tour Vermont Yankee to help them better understand the process.

Martin Cohn is Senior Communications Specialist at Vermont Yankee Decommissioning.
His letter appeared in the Keene Sentinel on May 27.  With BCTV (Brattleboro Community TV), Cohn has started a series SAFSTOR Matters, about Vermont Yankee decommissioning.  You can watch the first episode here, and the second episode here.

1 comment:

Joffan said...

In fact, it's unnecessary to keep emergency planning at operational levels right now. There's nothing on site that can realistically threaten anything off-site. The spent fuel is already below heat production levels that could drive any rapid energetic event, and there is nothing else on site that poses a risk of interfering with the ability of the decommissioning crew to handle a spent fuel pool problem.

Waiting additional time to phase out offsite emergency support is another of those hidden penalties that nuclear bears.