Radioactive Thursday? | Freyne Land

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Radioactive Thursday?

Posted By on Thu, Nov 15, 2007 at 8:10 PM

A dark and rainy day in the Queen City as the anti-nuke set set their sights on Entergy and their nuclear power station in Vernon, Vermont.

That's Chris Wiliams [left] and Bob Stannard [center] from the Citizens Action Network and Jim Moore from VPIRG. Held a presser in that new joint on the Burlington Waterfront.

Stannard, a former state rep from Manchester and an accomplished blues-harp player had the best line:

"I learned the other day," said Roberto, "that if the Romans had nuclear technology, we’d still be in the initial stages of guarding their waste."

The troika released a document union workers at Entergy's Pilgrim Nuke in Massachusetts filed with the NRC two months ago. The union had copied Vermont Public Service Commish Dave O'Brien, though we hadn't heard a peep about it from the ol' Vermont PSD in the last two months. Said VPIRG's Moore in a "Freyne Land" interview afterward:

MOORE: The point here is that Vermont Yankee has a serious safety issue that’s been raised by workers within the industry at the Pilgrim Plant in Plymouth, Mass. and VT Yankee should not be allowed to continue to operate if there are serious safety issues now at that facility.

FREYNE: It’s no surprise. VPIRG’s wanted Vermont Yankee to shut down as long as I’ve been alive. What’s new today?

MOORE: There’s a pattern of failure at that facility and what’s new today is that workers within the industry are saying we don’t want to be associated with Vermont Yankee in any way because there are such serious safety concerns and that’s being brought up by workers within the industry who know what safety means and who are very supportive of nuclear power in general. It’s the union at Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth, Massachusetts which is owned by Entergy, the same corporate ownership as the Vermont Yankee facility.

FREYNE: What’s the safety problem?  What’s new today?

MOORE: Well, there always have been safety problems at Vermont Yankee. What’s new today is that either the recent problems that have happened at Vermont Yankee,  the recent accidents, these are not isolated incidents. It’s a systemic problem at that facility, OR there are safety concerns that these workers have that have not been brought to the light of day yet. The NRC should absolutely be investigating what are the safety concerns.

FREYNE: Well, Gov. Douglas seems to be on board now, eh?

It’s terrific that Gov. Douglas is now supporting an independent safety review, but he’s asking the wrong question. He’s asking is it safe to run for an additional 20 years beyond its license. He should be asking “Is it safe to run today?”

That’s the red flag that these workers in the nuclear industry have raised.

Entergy Spokesman Larry Smith told The Associated Press he suspected the Pilgrim workers, who he said are coming up for contract negotiations, were "posturing."

As the AP reports: Entergy is seeking to create a new company that would own six power stations, including Vermont Yankee and Pilgrim. At the same time, Entergy is seeking to extend Vermont Yankee's operating license for 20 years beyond its current 2012 expiration.

Vermont's congressional delegation is calling for the safety assessment before any extension is granted. And now, Gov. Jim Douglas is joining the call as well.

Public Service Commissioner David O'Brien said the August collapse of a cooling tower at Vermont Yankee played a role in the decision to support the safety assessment.

"It's safe to say the public's confidence level in the plant has been shaken," said O'Brien.

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About The Author

Peter Freyne

Peter Freyne

Peter Freyne, 1949-2009, wrote the weekly political column "Inside Track," which originated in the Vanguard Press in the mid 1980s; he brought it to Seven Days in 1995. He retired it shortly before his death in January, 2009. We all miss him.

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