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Senate President Pro Tem Peter Shumlin Calls For A Senate Vote On The Continued Operation Of Vermont Yankee

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Montpelier, Vt – Senate President Pro Tem Peter Shumlin, today announced that the Senate will vote before the town meeting break on whether or not relicensing the Vermont Yankee nuclear power station to operate beyond its scheduled closing date is in the best interest of Vermonters.

“It is the responsibility of the General Assembly to vote on the continued operation of Vermont Yankee,” said Senator Peter Shumlin. “We have a responsibility to provide Vermonters and Vermont businesses a direction for our energy future, provide our electric utilities with sufficient time to secure delivery of energy, and in the event that the plant ceases operating as scheduled in 2012, provide the workers at Vermont Yankee adequate time to secure employment.” 

Senate President Pro Tem Peter Shumlin has asked the Senate Finance Committee to take up the legislation relating to the continued operation of the Vermont Yankee nuclear energy generating plant this week.  The full Senate is expected to consider the question of continued operation before legislators return home for town meeting.

“Vermonter’s deserve better than what Entergy Louisiana has to offer.  The reactor is too old to operate reliably past its scheduled closure in 2012.  The corporation has misled our public officials and the people of Vermont,” said Senator Peter Shumlin.  “Vermonter’s confidence in Vermont Yankee has been further marred by Entergy’s attempt to create a debt ridden spin off corporation to take ownership of the plant.  The cleanup fund is already more than half a billion dollars short and Vermonters cannot afford a corporation that may shift that cost to ratepayers.  There is also frustration with Entergy/Enexus’ power purchase proposal, which would raise Vermonter’s electricity rates by nearly 50% and provide us with only 11% of our power. Operating Vermont Yankee beyond its scheduled closing date of March 12, 2012 is not in the best interests of Vermonters and unnecessary delay is an irresponsible option for our energy future.”

Batting 1,000 on Yankee

From the Rutland Herald:

For years there have been many lawmakers, lobbyists and state officials at the Statehouse who thought Arnie and Maggie Gundersen were alarmist and rabid anti-nuclear kooks.

But it turns out that this husband-and-wife team from Burlington have been right about many things Vermont Yankee – including this latest scandal surrounding tritium leaks and plant owner Entergy giving false info to the state.

Maggie Gundersen told the Senate Natural Resources Committee last week that, back in 2009, a lawmaker pulled her and Arnie aside and told them to lay off on Entergy, that they are "losing credibility" when they question the company.

"We stuck to our analysis," Maggie Gundersen said.

Arnie Gundersen was a controversial choice as a member of the Vermont Yankee Public Oversight Panel and pro-nuclear groups quickly said he was biased and his participation would discredit the process. Senate President Pro Tem Peter Shumlin stuck by his pick, saying Gundersen brought years of nuclear experience to the team.

Gundersen seemed to be the only one asking Entergy and state officials about these underground radioactive pipes that may be now leaking tritium. When everyone told him they didn't exist, he persisted and asked the question again and again. Same result.

Turns out he was right the whole time. There was a dramatic shift in the couple's recent appearances before legislative committees. Even pro-nuclear Republicans now look at the couple knowing they know what they are talking about.

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Investigation into Tritium Contamination at Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station

From the Vermont Department of Health:

Since Jan. 7, the Vermont Department of Health has stepped up its environmental surveillance of Vermont Yankee by testing water samples taken from drinking water wells and ground water monitoring wells on site at the plant, and in the surrounding area. Water is now being sampled at least weekly for independent testing by our public health laboratory. Other samples, such as soil, milk, river sediment, and vegetation (when available), are being taken for testing as needed.

The Department of Health is using gamma spectroscopy analysis to determine if other radioisotopes, in addition to tritium, are present in samples collected from and around Vermont Yankee site.

These independent test results to date for tritium and gamma spectroscopy are available here:

Health Department Laboratory Test Results (xls)

Tritium reaches Connecticut River

From the Republican:

Radioactive tritium that is leaking from the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in Vernon is now believed to have reached the Connecticut River, and calls are growing for the plant to be closed down while the leak is located and repaired.

The owner of the 38-year-old plant, Louisiana-based Entergy Corp., is seeking to extend the plant's license 20 years beyond the scheduled 2012 expiration. However, in November, radioactive contamination was first detected in monitoring wells on the property, suspected of being from leaks in underground piping at the plant, which is by located alongside the Connecticut River.

Since then, the levels of contamination found in some wells has risen dramatically. The federal safety standard for tritium in drinking water is 20,000 picocuries per liter, but water from one monitoring well measured nearly 2.6 million picocuries per liter.

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Review - Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment

By Rosalie Bertell, Ph.D.

This new publication of the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences (Volume 1181), by Alexey Yablokov, Vassily Nesterenko, and Alexey Nesterenko, is the elucidation many of us have been waiting for since the 1986 disaster at the failed nuclear reactor in Ukraine.  Until now we have read about the published reports of limited spotty investigations by western scientists who undertook projects in the affected territories. Even the prestigious IAEA, WHO and UNSCEAR reports have been based on about 300 such western research papers, leaving out the findings of some 30,000 scientific papers prepared by scientists working and living in the stricken territories and suffering the everyday problems of residential contamination with nuclear debris and a contaminated food supply.

Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment is wrtitten by Alexey Yablokov, Vassily Nesterenk and Alexey Nesterenko.  The senior author, Alexey Yablokov was head of the Russian Academy of Science under Gobachev – since then he receives no support.  Vassily Nesterenko, head of the Ukrainian Nuclear establishment at the time of the accident, flew over the burning reactor and took the only measurements.  In August 2009, he died as a result of radiation damage, but earlier, with help from Andrei Sakarov, was able to establish BELRAD to help children of the area.

The three scientists who assembled the information in the book from more than 5000 published articles and research findings, mostly available only within the former Soviet Union or Eastern block countries and not accessible in the West, are prestigious scientists who present objective facts clearly nuanced with little or no polemics. They were not encumbered by a desire to promote or excessively blame a failed technology!

The book was expertly translated into readable English by Janette Sherman, Medical Toxicologist and Adjunct Professor in the Environmental Institute at Western Michigan University.

Professor Dr. of Biology, Dimitro Grodzinsky, Chair of the Department of Biology of the Ukraine National Academy of Sciences, and member of the National Commission wrote the Forward to the book. His statement relative to Western reporting of the accident is illuminating:

“For a long time I have thought that the time has come to put an end to the opposition between technocracy advocates and those who support objective scientific efforts to estimate the negative risks for people exposed to the Chernobyl fallout. The basis for believing that these risks are not minor is very convincing.”

The government of the former Soviet Union previously classified many documents now accessible to the authors. For example, we now know that the number of people hospitalized for acute radiation sickness was more than a hundred times larger than the number recently quoted by the IAEA, WHO and UNSCEAR.  Unmentioned by the technocrats were the problems of “hot particles” of burning uranium that caused nasopharyngeal problems, and the radioactive fallout that resulted in general deterioration of the health of children, wide spread blood and lymph system diseases, reproductive loss, premature and small infant births, chromosomal mutations, congenital and developmental abnormalities, multiple endocrine diseases, mental disorders and cancer.

The authors systematically explain the secrecy conditions imposed by the government, the failure of technocrats to collect data on the number and distribution of all of the radionuclides of major concern, and the restrictions placed on physicians against calling any medical findings radiation related unless the patient had been a certified “acute radiation sickness” patient during the disaster, thus assuring that only 1% of injuries would be so reported..

This book is a “must read” for all of those bureaucrats currently promoting nuclear power as the only “solution” for climate change. Those who seek information on the disaster only from the official documentation provided by the IAEA, WHO and UNSCEAR need to broaden their reading to include the reality check from those scientists who have access to local findings and are simply telling the truth, with no hidden propaganda agenda.

I was impressed by the simple message of the cover of this volume, which shows a number of felled logs with clearly distinguishable colors of wood: before and after Chernobyl. The reader will find that the environment, living plants and animals all suffered ill effects from this experience, as did the human population. It should be a sobering read for all those who have believed the fiction that “low doses of radiation are harmless”, or that a severe nuclear accident is easily contained within the human environment.

Below is the New York Academy of Sciences site for the book. Unfortunately, its selling price is now about $150, which may limit its distribution.

http://www.nyas.org/Publications/Annals/Detail.aspx?cid=f3f3bd16-51ba-4d7b-a086-753f44b3bfc1

NRC nominees won't stand in way of Yucca Mountain shutdown

From the Las Vegas Review-Journal:

Three officials nominated to fill seats on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission indicated this week that they would not stand in the way of a shutdown of the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste program.

But one suggested that because it now looks as if radioactive spent fuel will remain at power plants for the foreseeable future, their steel-and-concrete storage canisters should be checked for safety.

"When we first started storing spent fuel at reactor sites, nobody was thinking it was going to be there for 100 years," said William Magwood, a former Department of Energy official. "I think we have to go back and take a look at what we have in place now and assure ourselves it is able to stay in place another 50 years if necessary."

Entergy Rebuked by New York State Attorney General in Enexus Case: Decision Pending

From Vtdigger.org:

The Office of New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo blasted Entergy officials yesterday for more corporate shenanigans from a company already mired in controversy here in Vermont.  According to the NYS OAG’s letter, Entergy waited until just hours before a decision is expected from state regulators in New York to file major new documents in the case concerning their plans to spin-off a handful of their decaying nuclear plants to a shell corporation called Enexus.

The OAG decried the legal maneuver, saying that it would “thoroughly frustrated public review, comment and participation.”  The Attorney General also noted that Entergy’s submission “contained several inaccurate responses” including one that claimed that no solid or hazardous waste has ever been disposed of on site at the company’s Indian Point reactor.

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N.H. Governor calls for Vermont Yankee investigation

From NECN:

Citing concerns over the safety and management of the nuclear plant just on the other side of the Vermont border, New Hampshire governor John Lynch today called on teh Nuclear Regulatory Commission to "thoroughly investigate" the plant before giving it a license extension.

The letter cited the recent discovery of tritium in groundwater near the plant and the recent confirmation of underground pipelines near Vermont Yankee as "revelations (that) lead me to question the credibility of Entergy and its ability to safely manage the plant. They also lead me to conclude that the NRC must undertake an additional and thorough investigation into the Vermont Yankee plant."

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Governor Patrick's Letter to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Concerning VT Yankee

From Massachusetts Governor Patrick:

Because of the proximity of the Vermont Yankee plant to Massachusetts, the concern that tritium may leak into the groundwater, and the possibility that there may also be leaks of radioactive substances at Pilgrim, I ask that you undertake the following immediately:

  • require extensive testing from leaks of tritium and other radioactive substances at both Vermont Yankee and Pilgrim, including testing of potentially impacted drinking water supplies and of the Connecticut River in proximity to Vermont Yankee;
  • stay any further consideration of the approval of the spin-off of the Vermont Yankee and Pilgrim plants from Entergy to Enexus until the leak issues are resolved; and
  • stay any further consideration of the relicensing of both plants until the leak issues are resolved.

Download PDF

NEC asks NRC to close VY

From the Brattleboro Reformer:

For a number of reasons, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission should force Entergy to put into cold shutdown its Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in Vernon, stated the New England Coalition on Nuclear Pollution in a filing to the NRC submitted Tuesday.

Those reasons include the increasing concentrations of tritium in groundwater below the plant, Entergy's failure to know and understand Yankee's design, layout and construction, the inadequacy of Yankee's underground piping aging management plan and the NRC's failure to identify the situation until it became "grossly self revealing."

Therefore, wrote Ray Shadis, NEC's technical consultant, the NRC should force Yankee to go into cold shutdown and depressurize all systems in order to slow or stop the leak.

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