Letter Box

Tuesday January 29, 2013

Weighing VY’s short- and long-term issues

Editor of the Reformer:

I am writing in response to Beatrice DeFeo’s letter published Jan. 24. Ms. DeFeo thinks anti-nuke protesters should "go home" and asks if we don’t realize what Vermont Yankee does for business and for local charities.

First of all, as an anti-nuke protester and a Vermonter, I want you to know that I am home. And so are all the protesters from Massachusetts. Just because they happen to live on the other side of an artificial border doesn’t change that. Some parts of Massachusetts are closer to Vermont Yankee than Brattleboro, where Ms. DeFeo lives.

Because we believe our homes to be in great danger from Vermont Yankee’s continued operation and the creation of ever more spent nuclear fuel that has the potential for contaminating and killing us and our beautiful home. Because we believe democracy and the Vermont way of doing business are in great danger because of the unscrupulous, dishonest dealings of VY’s owner, Entergy Louisiana.

In answer to Ms. DeFeo’s question ("Don’t you realizeĆ what Yankee does for business here and what it gives to charities?"): I do realize that the closure of Vermont Yankee will bring about changes in the local economy, and that they could be difficult; it’s a big employer. And as a social worker, I am very much aware of the amount of money that VY gives to local charities.

Do you accept that VY has to close someday? Do you recognize that the workers at VY have gotten the longest lay-off notice in history (40 years)? Do you acknowledge that nuclear power has inherent risks? Do you know what is happening now in Japan as a result of the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear power stations? Have you taken the time to educate yourself about Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, or Brookhaven National Labs, to name a few? Do you honestly think that this nuclear power facility can never leak, spew, or cascade radioactivity into our beautiful homeland? (It already has leaked, of course, and the older it gets, the more likely it is to have more catastrophic problems.)

The risks that we all face are far bigger than the risks of losing local jobs, even hundreds of jobs. They are far bigger than the risk to local charitable organizations of not getting money from VY. If VY goes, it will contaminate a huge area, for generations.

I have noticed that pro-VY folks tend to focus on shorter-term consequences (loss of jobs and support for non-profits), and that anti-VY folks tend to emphasize longer-term issues (radioactive contamination, threats to the right of Vermont to decide what happens in its borders, damage to the ecology of our river). It’s not that one is all wrong and one is all right. It’s just that the shorter-term problems can and should be planned for so that their impact is lessened. The longer-term problems cannot be planned away; they need to be avoided at all costs.

I love my home, and I will defend it.

Ann Darling,

Brattleboro, Jan. 26

The NRA has spoken

Editor of the Reformer:

A few days after the Sandy Hook School horror, NRA indicated that they would have a solution so that "... this never happens again." True to their word, they have the solution we have all been waiting for -- an armed security-person in every school in the United States. However several thoughts and questions remain.

Would this person be armed with a semiautomatic assault weapon, or be expected to go up up against an assailant with a pea-shooter? If reasonably armed, would this person be expected to engage in a shootout in a school hallway? (The gunfight at the OK Corral provides a model). In most cases, when an armed person is threatening people, the police call in numerous officers as backup: local police, state police (often from several towns and states) and specially trained SWAT teams. Would our security person be expected to take on the bad guy (Wayne LaPierre’s term) alone? This one security person my not be sufficient. Other strategies come to mind.

Principals should have ready access to a grenade launcher; all staff should carry Bowie knives and be trained in their use; schools should have an arsenal of AR-15s, AK-47s, bazookas possibly, available to all other security personnel. Staff should be issued bullet-proof vests, in fact, maybe all students should be required to wear a bullet-proof vest and high school students should also be required to carry a switchblade knife. Also, those yellow school buses, which don’t look like they’d provide much safety if attacked, should be replaced by military Humvees and MRAPs, soon to be returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. And what about those students waiting on the corner to be picked up by a bus; machine-gun nests should be established across the street from any pickup spot. Defense; we need to protect our children, so says the NRA.

We’ve only just begun. What about places of religious worship, movie theaters, shopping malls, grocery stores, for goodness sake, just walking down the street. Maybe we’d all be safer if everyone had an assault weapon hidden under their coat. Imagine if say five people each had a 100-round magazine attached to their weapon, and a bad guy tried to mess around on Main Street, and they all started firing? That bad guy would be one unhappy camper. Is this what the NRA has in mind?

It’s time to say to our elected representatives, local, statewide and nationally: if you don’t stand up to the NRA, come the next election -- you’ll be out of office.

Ken McCaffrey,

Brattleboro, Jan. 22


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