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The Vermont Yankee atomic reactor is now permanently shut down. Citizen activists have made it happen. The number of licensed US commercial reactors is now under 100, where once it was to be 1000.
VY pumped out its last few electrons yesterday, December 29, 2014.
Had it not been for decades of hard grassroots roots campaigning by dedicated, non-violent nuclear opponents, working for a Solartopian green-powered economy, the reactor’s corporate owner might have let it limp along for years to come.
Entergy says VY was losing money. Though fully amortized, it could not compete with the onslaught of renewable energy and fracked gas. Throughout the world, nukes once sold as generating juice “too cheap to meter” are financial failures. Even with their capital costs long-ago stuck to the public, these radioactive junk heaps have no place in today’s economy—except as magnets for massive ratepayer and taxpayer handouts.
So in Illinois and elsewhere around the US, their owners are begging bought and rented state legislators and regulators to force the public to eat their losses. Arguing for “base load power” or other nonsensical corporate constructs, reactor owners are trying to prolong operations while losing out in the market. Where they can throw their “campaign donations” around, they are gouging the public to keep increasingly dangerous radioactive jalopies on line.
Such might have been the fate of Vermont Yankee had it not been for citizen opposition. Opened in the early 1970s, VY was the northern tip of clean energy’s “golden triangle.” Down the Connecticut River, grassroots opposition successfully prevented two reactors from being built at Montague, Massachusetts, where the term “No Nukes” was coined. A weather tower was toppled, films were made, books were written and an upwelling of well-organized grassroots activism helped feed into a rising global movement.
A bit to the southwest, in the early 1990s, it shut the infamous Yankee Rowe reactor, which had been hit by lightening and could not be subjected to a verifiable test of its dangerously embrittled core.
But VY persisted. Entergy, a “McNuke” operator based in New Orleans, bought Yankee from its original owners about a dozen years ago. It signed a complex series of agreements with the state, then brazenly trashed them to keep VY spiraling ever-downwardhoin its fleet of heavily-subsidized decaying reactors.
But hard-core organizers like Deb Katz’s Citizen Awareness Network never let up. Working through a network of stage and local campaigns, the safe energy movement has finally forced Entergy to flip the off switch.