VERNON -- Dozens of protesters flocked to the Connecticut River Saturday afternoon to condemn the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant and its owner, Entergy, for the reactor's thermal discharge.
Organized by the SAGE Alliance, approximately 125 anti-nuclear activists boarded boats, canoes and kayaks at different points along the river and then gathered in a small alcove in Hinsdale, N.H., directly across the river from the Vernon reactor.
They sang songs and held signs that read "Entergy our river is not your dump" and "Cool IT" and "No place for nuke waste." They also chanted and dropped ice cubes and ice blocks into the water as a small gesture to cool the river, which they claim is being overheated by Vermont Yankee.
State Rep. David Deen, D-Westminster addressed the crowd and spoke about his concerns and those of fellow members of the Connecticut River Watershed Council.
According to a recent report from several hydrologists, the river's temperature exceeded Vermont Yankee's permit limit 58 percent of the time between May and October of 2006 through 2010.
One of the group's major concerns is the affect that the increased water temperatures is having on fish that use the Connecticut as their spawning grounds.
"This is your river, your water, it's your fish," Deen told the crowd Saturday. "Today sends a great message, that there is a voice for the fish."
Deen asked the crowd to contact their local politicians
"We don't want any more hot water in this river," he said.
Rose Watson and Laura Berkowitz, both from Marlboro, sat in their canoe holding their sign because they said it was necessary to keep up the fight against Entergy.
"I'm scared, especially after Fukushima," Watson said of the nuclear disaster in Japan. "I want to see VY be impeccable to their word and close down this plant like they said they would."
The plant's continued operation is still being litigated in federal court as the state of Vermont appealed a judge's decision to overturn legislation that could have closed the nuclear reactor last March when its initial 40-year license expired.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved a 20-year extension on the plant's operating license in March 2011, and about a month later Entergy sued the state, claiming Vermont's legislation was federally preempted by the atomic energy act.
Vermont Yankee is currently operating under a "zombie permit" to continue to dump some 543 million gallons of water used to cool the reactor, back into the river.
Deen told the Reformer last month the water's temperature can be as high as 105 degrees if the plant is running at 100 percent.
Last month, following the new report, Jon Groveman, who serves as general counsel for the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, said members of the VANR are reviewing Vermont Yankee's permit and will look over the report for consideration prior to offering a decision on whether to approve or renew the permit.
Entergy's suit against the state has been appealed to the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York.
Josh Stilts can be reached at email@example.com, or 802-254-2311 ext. 273.