Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Rubble at Vermont Yankee: Framing the Discussion

Vermont Yankee in the good days
The Future of Vermont Yankee

Nuclear opponents continue to attempt to put roadblocks into the Vermont Yankee decommissioning process. They claim that they want a quick, safe process for decomm, but several of them also claim that the land should "heal" for about two hundred years before anything is built there.

Basically, a quick safe process is the very last thing opponents would want, as far as I can tell. A successful  process would show that nuclear decomm is no big deal, and perhaps nuclear opponents should turn their attention to coal ash ponds.

Right now, rubblization is a major issue.  Here's my letter about it.

Framing the Discussion

Dear Editor:

I am well-known as an advocate for nuclear energy. I lost most of my interest in the Vermont Yankee plant after it closed down, and I devoted myself to writing a book about pro-nuclear advocacy. However, in the past six months, I began looking at the issues surrounding the proposed sale of Vermont Yankee to NorthStar.

Since NorthStar's announcement about the proposal to purchase Vermont Yankee, I have attended several public meetings and community briefings, and heard NorthStar CEO Scott State speak. In these meetings, Mr. State has answered the hard questions about about NorthStar's plan to decommission Vermont Yankee in a safe, well managed process over relatively short time frame. State has responded to questions with candor and transparency. For example, I hadn't really understood that the nuclear opponent slogan of "no rubblization" would lead to huge amounts of truck traffic taking rubble away from the site. (Yes, I should have realized this myself.) Mr. State noted that, without rubblization, heavily-loaded construction trucks would constantly pass the elementary school. This would be a safety hazard for parents and children.

Nuclear opponents have effectively framed the discussion to their own personal definitions of safety: their definitions ignore traffic safety and children's safety. Similarly, nuclear opponents are now speaking of letting the site "heal." In other words, they want to remove the Vermont Yankee site from possible use as a commercial site (with jobs) until such time as it meets their non-measurable criteria for "healing."

I'm hopeful the Public Utilities Commission recognizes the tangible safety, economic and environmental benefits of NorthStar's proposal.

Meredith Angwin,
Wilder, VT

This letter has appeared (sometimes with edits) in various newspapers in Vermont and New Hampshire, for example, The Brattleboro Reformer, the Burlington Free Press, the Rutland Herald,  and the Caledonian Record. It has appeared in other newspapers also, but I don't have the links.

Additional Reading:
 Rubblization of a road
Wikipedia illustration

Howard Shaffer's letter to the Brattleboro Reformer. Without rubblization, there would be over 4000 truckloads of rubble removed from the site. Specious Objections to the NorthStar Proposal. 

Patty O'Donnell in the Keene Sentinel. Why Wait 60 Years for Economic Benefits?

Guy Page in Seven Days on the....umm....incorrect statements....of nuclear opponents. True NorthStar

Bob Leach in the Times Argus on why Residential Standards are not the appropriate standard for cleanup.

Wikipedia on Rubblization, which is not a new concept.


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