The nuclear power industry is sending a clear and forceful message to the citizens of Vermont: “Drop Dead.”
The greeting applies to Ohio, New York, California and a nation under assault from a “renaissance” so far hyped with more than $640 million in corporate cash.
The Vermont attack includes:
1) A direct threat to ignore the state Senate’s 26-4 February vote against renewing the Yankee reactor’s operating license. As a condition of buying Yankee, Entergy long-ago ceded to the legislature approval of any extension of an operating license, which expires in 2012. But Entergy now says it will spend all the corporate cash it needs to evict the current Senate and install one more to its liking.
2) Vermont’s pro-nuclear Republican Governor Jim Douglas says the Senate’s vote is “meaningless.” Douglas is not running for re-election but is certain to become a high-priced Yankee arm-twister when he leaves office.
3) Entergy has also implied that if it fails to buy itself a pro-nuke legislature in 2010, it will sue over any denial of the license extension.
4) Entergy is trying to shift ownership of Yankee into a shell corporation called Enexus which would allow it to avoid financial exposure. The scheme has been attacked by regulators and analysts in New York (Entergy also owns Indian Point) and elsewhere. “With its leaks and lies,” says Yankee activist Deb Katz, VY “is a liability for Entergy and a black eye” which some observers think the industry may want to jettison.
5) Entergy’s decommissioning fund has been radically drained by stock market losses and mis-management. It retains nowhere near enough money for safe dismantlement, so Entergy says Yankee must operate for decades more to recoup the losses.
6) Under oath and in public, Entergy officials have denied the existence of underground piping at Vermont Yankee which does exist and is leaking radioactive tritium as well as other deadly isotopes.
7) A probe (nicknamed “Rover”) sent into the piping system to locate the leak has become stuck in radioactive muck.
8) State regulators and others warn that Yankee’s radioactive offal may already be pouring into the Connecticut River.
As angry citizens in Vermont and downwind New Hampshire and Massachusetts are told their worries have no place in a reactor renaissance, the message to “drop dead” has spread.
In Ohio, the infamous Davis-Besse reactor has turned up—again— with potentially catastrophic defects. In 2002 Davis-Besse came within a fraction of an inch of a catastrophic melt-down when boric acid ate nearly all the way through the reactor pressure vessel. Now assemblies that guide rods into the reactor core are again cracking. Davis-Besse’s owner, First Energy, is ignoring demands from terrified downwinders that the nuke be permanently shut.
In New York, Entergy’s Indian Point is leaking inside and out. Entergy continues to resist public demands for shut-down or a definitive clean-up.
In California, Pacific Gas & Electric is pushing hard to extend the operating license for its Diablo Canyon reactor, ignoring public demands for a three-year project to map earthquake faults that run within three miles of the plant.
Federal agents have confirmed that a suspected al Qaeda operative worked at 6 US nukes sites. Former CIA official Charles F. Faddis warns that America’s 104 operating reactors are dangerously vulnerable to terror attack.
None of which seems to phase an industry and administration that want the public to pay for still more.
Politically, economically, ecologically and in terms of the public health, the message from the “nuclear renaissance” to the American people is perfectly clear: “Drop Dead.”