FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Vermont Yankee Joins the Tsunami of US Reactor Shutdowns

by HARVEY WASSERMAN

In a huge victory for the grass-roots movement for a green-powered earth, Entergy has announced it will shut its Vermont Yankee reactor by the end of next year.

“It’s fantastic,” says longtime safe-energy activist Deb Katz. “This is such a win for the people, for the state of Vermont and for democracy.”

The Green Mountain State’s only commercial reactor was recently relicensed to operate another two decades. Entergy spent millions in legal fees to establish a right to resist Vermont’s attempt to shut Yankee on safety grounds. Announcing this shutdown just two weeks after an apparent victory in federal court indicates the legal battle was really a holding action to protect its other reactors.

But the decision also opened Entergy to other challenges, especially in front of Vermont’s Public Service Board. “Hidden in the federal ruling Entergy ostensibly won was a confirmation that the state, through the PSB, had the right to reject Vermont Yankee’s continued operation on reliability, economics and more.”

And, says Katz, “The Nuclear Regulatory Commission accepted our petition to pry open Entergy’s finances.”

This is the fifth shutdown announcement since 2013 began with 104 licensed U.S. reactors. Barring other closures—which now seem more likely—Yankee’s demise will bring us to 99.  Nebraska’s Ft. Calhoun is still down after being flooded. As many as seven more proposed U.S. reactors have been canceled since January, turning the much-hyped “nuclear renaissance” into a rapidly rising rout. Upgrades at five other reactors have also been canceled.

Entergy’s double-reactor complex at Indian Point, north of New York City, is now under intense political fire. Water and other permits there and at the upstate Fitzpatrick reactor are being bitterly contested in Albany.

Entergy’s embattled Pilgrim reactor at Plymouth, south of Boston, recently had to reduce power due to global-warmed Cape Cod cooling water. Its Palisades reactor on Lake Michigan has been linked to heightened local cancer rates.

Entergy says Yankee’s closure will add more than $100 million to its cash flow over the next few years. Wisconsin’s Kewaunee has been shut for financial reasons by Dominion Power. Nuclear experts like Arnie Gundersen warn that funds set aside to decommission these dying reactors may be inadequate and that the process could take far longer than we are being told.

With gas relatively cheap and renewables dropping in price while rising in efficiency, the financial vise is tightening around the world’s remaining reactors.

As Amory Lovins has shown, Germany’s decision to shut its nukes and transition to renewables looms large over a technology whose credibility has been decimated by the ongoing catastrophe at Fukushima.

Any talk of nuclear power being a solution for global warming has exploded with thatdisaster and the rapid deterioration of the U.S. industry.

As Jon Wellinghoff, chair of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, puts it, solar power is about to “overtake everything.”

The regional nonviolent movement to shut Vermont Yankee stretches back four decades. This victory was preceded by the 1990s closure of the nearby Yankee Rowe reactor, the cancellations of construction downwind at Seabrook Unit Two, of two proposed units at downriver Montague, and much, much more.

Thoroughly linked with national and international activism, the Yankee shutdown derived from the tireless work of seasoned campaigners who have never stopped. Like the recent victories at San Onofre and elsewhere, this New England campaign has been built around countless individual actions, organizing meetings, public hearings, marches, concerts, rallies, picket lines, nonviolent civil disobedience and a savvy, in-it-for-the-long-haul dedication from people for whom ridding the world of nuclear power is the only end point.

It stands a model for peaceful democratic social change that has cleared a visible path to a sustainable, socially just and ecologically sound planet on which to live.

Harvey Wasserman edits www.nukefree.org and is author of SOLARTOPIA!  Our Green-Powered Earth.  His SOLARTOPIA GREEN POWER & WELLNESS SHOW is at www.prn.fm.  This article was first published at Truthdig.com.

Harvey Wasserman wrote SOLARTOPIA! Our Green-Powered Earth. His Green Power & Wellness Show is at www.prn.fm

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

August 24, 2016
John Pilger
Provoking Nuclear War by Media
Jonathan Cook
The Birth of Agro-Resistance in Palestine
Eric Draitser
Ajamu Baraka, “Uncle Tom,” and the Pathology of White Liberal Racism
Jack Rasmus
Greek Debt and the New Financial Imperialism
Robert Fisk
The Sultan’s Hit List Grows, as Turkey Prepares to Enter Syria
Abubakar N. Kasim
What Did the Olympics Really Do for Humanity?
Renee Parsons
Obamacare Supporters Oppose ColoradoCare
Alycee Lane
The Trump Campaign: a White Revolt Against ‘Neoliberal Multiculturalism’
Edward Hunt
Maintaining U.S. Dominance in the Pacific
George Wuerthner
The Big Fish Kill on the Yellowstone
Jesse Jackson
Democrats Shouldn’t Get a Blank Check From Black Voters
Kent Paterson
Saving Southern New Mexico from the Next Big Flood
Arnold August
RIP Jean-Guy Allard: A Model for Progressive Journalists Working in the Capitalist System
August 23, 2016
Diana Johnstone
Hillary and the Glass Ceilings Illusion
Bill Quigley
Race and Class Gap Widening: Katrina Pain Index 2016 by the Numbers
Ted Rall
Trump vs. Clinton: It’s All About the Debates
Eoin Higgins
Will Progressive Democrats Ever Support a Third Party Candidate?
Kenneth J. Saltman
Wall Street’s Latest Public Sector Rip-Off: Five Myths About Pay for Success
Binoy Kampmark
Labouring Hours: Sweden’s Six-Hour Working Day
John Feffer
The Globalization of Trump
Gwendolyn Mink – Felicia Kornbluh
Time to End “Welfare as We Know It”
Medea Benjamin
Congress Must Take Action to Block Weapon Sales to Saudi Arabia
Halyna Mokrushyna
Political Writer, Daughter of Ukrainian Dissident, Detained and Charged in Ukraine
Manuel E. Yepe
Tourism and Religion Go Hand-in-Hand in the Caribbean
ED ADELMAN
Belted by Trump
Thomas Knapp
War: The Islamic State and Western Politicians Against the Rest of Us
Nauman Sadiq
Shifting Alliances: Turkey, Russia and the Kurds
Rivera Sun
Active Peace: Restoring Relationships While Making Change
August 22, 2016
Eric Draitser
Hillary Clinton: The Anti-Woman ‘Feminist’
Robert Hunziker
Arctic Death Rattle
Norman Solomon
Clinton’s Transition Team: a Corporate Presidency Foretold
Ralph Nader
Hillary’s Hubris: Only Tell the Rich for $5000 a Minute!
Russell Mokhiber
Save the Patients, Cut Off the Dick!
Steven M. Druker
The Deceptions of the GE Food Venture
Elliot Sperber
Clean, Green, Class War: Bill McKibben’s Shortsighted ‘War on Climate Change’
Binoy Kampmark
Claims of Exoneration: The Case of Slobodan Milošević
Walter Brasch
The Contradictions of Donald Trump
Michael Donnelly
Body Shaming Trump: Statue of Limitations
Weekend Edition
August 19, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Carl Boggs
Hillary and the War Party
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Prime Time Green
Andrew Levine
Hillary Goes With the Flow
Dave Lindorff
New York Times Shames Itself by Attacking Wikileaks’ Assange
Gary Leupp
Could a Russian-Led Coalition Defeat Hillary’s War Plans?
Conn Hallinan
Dangerous Seas: China and the USA
Joshua Frank
Richard Holbrooke and the Obama Doctrine
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail