Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Vermont Citizen Speaks Out

Our thanks go out to Evan Mulholland from Vermont for sharing his letter to the editor on the failing, brittling sister reactor to Indian Point, the Vermont Yankee in Brattleboro, also owned by the environmental rapist at Entergy.

I rate Vermont Yankee a zero.

New England needs to shut down the aging Mark I GE Boiling Water reactors, including Vermont Yankee. The Sale and Uprate were travesties and, as a result, Vermont is hosting a pre-deployed weapon of mass destruction that siphons millions of dollars out of state to Entergy and its shareholders.

It is unarguable that there exists a residual probability of an accident at Vermont Yankee, as well as a possibility of an intentional terrorist attack. The results of such an accident or attack would be truly horrific and catastrophic: hundreds of people would die, the land surrounding Vernon would be uninhabitable, the tourism industry would end, and thousands of Vermonters (and residents of NH and MA) would suffer from cancer in the ensuing decades.

The Vermont Yankee reactor has a maximum dependable capacity of about 650MW, of which about half is used by Vermont individuals and businesses. This approximately 325 MW is about 1% of the installed generating capacity in New England (not counting HydroQuebec). Since 1997, 9300MW of new generation capacity has been interconnected to the New England grid -- most of this new capacity is in the form of relatively efficient natural gas fired generators.

Some time this month or next, Vermont Yankee will shut down for 20-40 days for a periodic refueling outage. Hot, highly-radioactive, spent fuel rods will be removed from the reactor and placed (for safe-keeping) in an enclosed swimming pool 7 stories above the ground. During this time, Vermont's lights will not go out. Instead GMP and CVPS will purchase power from the grid. This power will be from gas-fired plants, from hydro, from wind (Searsburg), and from other nuclear plants in the region. This is exactly what will replace Vermont Yankee when it is shut down as planned in 2012, but the utilities will negotiate fair contracts in advance.

In the past few years, the peak electricity demand in Vermont has occurred in the summer, as opposed to during the winter, as was typical until the late-nineties. This peak is mainly due to air conditioning.

For me the choice is simple: When I weigh air conditioning and cheap toast against the low-probability but catastrophic result of an accident or terrorist attack at Vermont Yankee, I prefer conservation over nuclear power hands down.

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