Valley Nuke Protest Set For April 1

On April 1 at 5:30 p.m., there will be a protest at the gates of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. The public is invited. Vermont Yankee is three miles from Massachusetts and a stone's throw from New Hampshire. The protest organizers' main goal is to close the reactor immediately and permanently. Other goals relate to how and when the site will be cleaned up after the reactor is closed. Vermont Yankee is currently scheduled to close permanently late this year or early next year.

The protest organizers have a web site: They can be reached at or by phone via Bob Bady at (802) 254-9098. Vermont Yankee is across the street from the public elementary school at 381 Governor Hunt Road in Vernon, Vermont.

The CEO of Entergy decided to close Vermont Yankee primarily because of the strong protest movement. Another factor was the drop in the price of natural gas, which is used to generate electricity. If natural gas prices go back up, Entergy could decide to re-open Vermont Yankee – if the plant is still standing at that time. Deb Katz told the Valley Post it's unlikely that Entergy will try to re-open Vermont Yankee. She is director of “The price of natural gas won't go up fast enough to help Entergy,” Katz predicted.

Katz said the soonest that the plant can safely be dismantled is eight to 10 years after it closes.

The Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant may be more dangerous when it closes than it is now, an expert told the Valley Post. Vermont Yankee is so dangerous that no insurance company will cover it. The facility gets its insurance for free 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.

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 December 2014 or January 2015, 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 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. “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. Entergy can also leave the reactor and other buildings at Vermont Yankee standing until 2074. Protests forced Vermont Yankee to close decades earlier than planned and they can force Entergy and the government to clean up the site as soon as the clean up can be done safely.

According to an article published in the February 1, 2014 edition of the Rutland Herald newspaper, Michael Twomey, an Entergy vice-president, said that Entergy may run Vermont Yankee through January 2015.

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 whom were arrested for non-violent civil disobedience. They succeeded in forcing Entergy to promise to close Vermont Yankee by January 2015.

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




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