Valley Nuke Danger Peaks

The Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant may be more dangerous when it closes later this year than it is now, an expert told the Valley Post this week. Vermont Yankee is so dangerous that no insurance company will cover it. The facility gets its insurance from the federal government. A major accident or act of sabotage at Vermont Yankee would cause thousands of “prompt fatalities,” and leave an area the size of New England uninhabitable for generations, according to a report by the federal government.

Vermont Yankee is three miles from Massachusetts and a stone's throw from New Hampshire.

The hundreds of tons of nuclear waste at Vermont Yankee is the most deadly material on earth, and will still be toxic 1 million years from now, according to the National Academies of Science. Most of the waste at Vermont Yankee is stored in a water-filled pool seven stories above ground level. If the water leaks out of the pool, a catastrophic fire will ensue. In 2007, part of Vermont Yankee collapsed because its wood beams were rotten. Hundreds of thousands of gallons of water spewed out of the collapsed structure.

In 2011, tornadoes in Springfield, Massachusetts killed three people, injured dozens more so seriously they required hospitalization, and destroyed brick buildings. Springfield is about 50 miles from Vermont Yankee.

Vermont Yankee is owned by Entergy Corporation of Louisiana.

The solution is to close Vermont Yankee immediately and permanently – not in late December 2014, which Entergy wants to do – and move the nuclear waste out of the water-filled pool into much safer “dry casks.” That's according to Tim Judson, the director of the Nuclear Information and Resource Service near Washington, DC. The waste can be moved into dry casks five years after it was taken out of the reactor. The vast majority of the waste in Vermont Yankee's pool is more than five years old. That waste should be transferred immediately after the plant closes. The remaining waste should be moved as soon as it is five years old.

“Immediately after Vermont Yankee closes, the fuel pool will be more dangerous than it is now,” Judson told the Valley Post this week. “They will have off-loaded the entire reactor core's worth of fuel. There will be less risk because the reactor won't be running. It's a toss up whether is will be more or less risk over all.”

Entergy is legally allowed to leave all the nuclear waste now in Vermont Yankee's pool where it is until the year 2074.

Until last year, Entergy said it planned to run Vermont Yankee until 2032. Protests in recent years in Brattleboro were attended by thousands of people, hundreds of them were arrested for non-violent civil disobedience. They succeeded in forcing Entergy to promise to close Vermont Yankee in late 2014. The protests were organized in part by the Citizens Awareness Network:

Anti-nuclear march, Brattleboro, 2008. photo by Eesha Williams (click photo to enlarge)




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