Beyond Nuclear Bulletin

From Beyond Nuclear:

Background: Despite assuring the State of Vermont for more than a year that it had no buried pipes carrying radioactivity, Entergy Nuclear’s Vermont Yankee reactor has revealed it is leaking radioactive tritium, almost certainly from underground pipes that it now admits do exist. In fact, Vermont Yankee has even announced the discovery of “highly radioactive water,” 50 times more radioactive than would be allowed in drinking water by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Nuclear expert Arnie Gundersen has made clear that Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee has indeed lied about the existence of buried pipes over the course of many months.

Our View: Entergy Nuclear has betrayed the trust of the lawmakers, regulators, and citizens of Vermont. Simultaneous with its revelation of radioactivity leaks on site, Vermont Yankee spokespeople engaged in a predictable campaign to downplay the health and safety risks of tritium. However, tritium can impact the human body right down to the DNA level, and can cross the placenta from mother to fragile fetus. At such intimate levels, tritium can and does damage human health, leading to cancer, genetic damage, birth defects, and other maladies. The National Academy of Science has reported consistently over the decades that any exposure to radioactivity, no matter how low the dose, still carries a health risk. As reactors age – and Vermont Yankee is nearly 40 years old – its systems, structures and components degrade, worsening tritium leaks from buried piping. Vermont Yankee’s license should not be extended 20 additional years.

What You Can Do: If you live outside Vermont, contact Vermont’s Governor, Jim Douglas, and let him know that the safety, security, health and environmental risks of Vermont Yankee could carry with them radioactive stigma effects, impacting Vermont’s tourism industry and agricultural products. If you live inside Vermont, contact your legislators and urge that they vote against the 20 year license extension at Vermont Yankee when the issue comes up for legislative action in the next few months.