Well, today is the day. About a hundred people will be laid off from Vermont Yankee, leaving a small staff of about 140 until such time as the fuel is moved into dry casks. (See the Mike Faber article in Vermont Digger for a history of the layoffs.) This will take place several years from now, around 2020, I believe. I think the fuel moving will be done by contractors, some of whom may be former Vermont Yankee employees. For now, however, the plant will be close to its shut-down goal of Cold and Dark.
A Fine Little Plant
My Facebook feed includes many Vermont Yankee employees. Oddly, I see more happiness than sorrow in the posts on FB. I realize that FB can be misleading, but still. I see pride in the excellent little plant. I see gratitude for the good work and the good companions. I see Cinco de Bye-O parties. I see humor. A bit of gallows humor, but still humor. The comment: "Tomorrow is the last day my husband will be getting up at 5:30 to go to the plant" is followed by: "Hey, maybe I'll go in late. What are they gonna do? Get rid of me?"
As I said, I know Facebook can be misleading. Still, I think the mood is basically far more upbeat than depressed. There is so much pride in the plant, and in work well done, and so much love for the co-workers. It's amazing to me. The mood is so different from the mood two years ago, when the "lists were up." The "lists" defined who would have one more year at Vermont Yankee, and who would have two years. I called the post about that day: Paint It Black. The day the "lists were up" was not covered in any local paper. They weren't interested in the pain of the Vermont Yankee workers.
In contrast, no doubt, there will be stories and op-eds galore about today. I'm not looking forward to some of the op-eds that will be published, though I think I could write some of them myself. I suspect Governor Shumlin (he who recently tried to destroy emails that may show some serious issues) will make a statement. Once again, Shumlin will look forward to the bright renewable future that is just around the corner for Vermont. As he has looked forward to it, so many times in the past.
(Enough about our current governor. With any luck, Vermont will get a special prosecutor about those emails. What goes around may yet come around. )
You Done Good
|Governor Salmon making a statement in favor of VY|
PSB hearing, November 2012
Many don't have such jobs. Some are being moved into retirement, whether they like it or not. Still, overall the mood is good.
Why is the mood good? It's because Vermont Yankee was a great plant, with great people. People who worked there had reason to be proud of their work! That makes a difference, even when the work ends.
As Governor Salmon wrote in December 2014: Governor Salmon praises 42 year of Vermont Yankee. As George Clain, Past President of IBEW at Vermont Yankee wrote: Vermont Yankee Union President: You Done Good. December 2014 is when Vermont Yankee went offline forever.
And I say:
Vermont Yankee, you done good for Vermont. Thank you.
You finished strong.
May everyone in the Vermont Yankee family go from strength to strength in their lives.
You finished strong and you will be strong.
I hope your futures will be filled with happiness.