Letter: What is Conservation Law Firm's alternative for Vermont Yankee?
The Reformer published commentary by The Conservation Law Firm (CLF) on June 14 wherein they recommend against accepting the transfer of Vermont Yankee decommissioning responsibility to NorthStar. In particular, one statement in the commentary caught my attention. The Senior Attorney writing the piece stated, in part, " lets Entergy walk away from the toxic mess it created." Pardon me - who created this site? This plant was built back in sixties by the largest Vermont utilities, CVPS and Green Mountain Power (GMP), and with investment by other smaller utilities in the region. Entergy bought the plant in 2002, 30 years after it originally came on line. Entergy successfully operated the plant for 14 years, about 25 percent of its operating life.
CLF states: " it's common for the transferring entity to remain on the hook as a back up to assist with cleanup efforts." OK. So CLF must advocate that the original developers of Vermont Yankee, the Vermont utilities, must be on the hook for the eventual cleanup of the site since they built it and owned it for 75 percent of its operating life. Let's hold them accountable - this was their idea.
The reality is that the purchase of Vermont Yankee by Entergy was one of the best things that ever happened to the plant. It is likely that if Entergy hadn't purchased the plant that CVPS and GMP would have shut it down back around 2002. I wonder where we would be now if that had happened. The decommissioning fund was certainly not adequate at that time to support decommissioning the plant. And what nuclear power plant decommissioning expertise did CVPS and GMP have? So what would we have in Vernon today? How about an abandoned nuclear power plant in a field of weeds, rusting away while the rate payers continue to pony up money until sometime in the future when miraculously enough money is available to decommission the site. There's a pleasant image.
CLF also states: " when the plant leaked and contaminated the site and nearby waterways." It is my understanding that both the States of Vermont and New Hampshire never found any contamination of the Connecticut River as a result of the tritium leak. Any remaining trace amounts of tritium, a low level radioactive compound, will likely decay away by the end of the planned decommissioning - a non-issue. It was good that Entergy owned the plant and had the resources to take care of that inherited design weakness.
What the nuclear industry has brought to Vermont Yankee is a Dream Team of nuclear power plant decommissioning expertise in the form of NorthStar. Who else are you going to call?
I believe that a lot of the US nuclear power plants are going to shut down over the next couple of decades. NorthStar can probably get a significant piece of that action if things go according to plan at VY. There is tremendous incentive for them to do this well.
What is CLF's alternative? Allow Entergy to just let VY age in place for the next 50 years or so? "Yea, whatever, we don't live in Windham County."
Brattleboro, June 21
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