Security and Safety Risks at Vermont Yankee
Fires, cracks in vital components, emergency shut downs, lost radioactive waste, a grossly inadequate and under-funded decommissioning plan, and a collapsed cooling tower are but a handful of incidents and doubt that define the nearly 40 years of operation at Entergy's Vermont Yankee nuclear facility. Since Entergy purchased Vermont Yankee in 2002, the inefficiency, unreliability and dangers have only increased. As the facility continues to age and more strain is placed upon its structures and components, we are continually faced with the uncertainty of its operation. While Vermont Yankee crumbles, we worry. As the out-of-state Entergy Corporation continues to mislead Vermonters and our elected representatives, we must review the destructive past and recognize the harm further operation will have on our state.
Over one million pounds of high-level radioactive waste now sits on the banks of the Connecticut River. This equates to over 35 million curies of cesium, a toxic alkali metal, residing in Entergy's nuclear waste pool. Annual solid waste is expected to increase by as much as 18% according to a Nuclear Regulatory Commission environmental impact assessment. This enormous amount of spent fuel is currently stored in a single spent fuel pool, created only as a temporary repository for high-level waste. Entergy plans to move the oldest spent fuel into "dry cask" storage, which will be indefinitely stored on site. There is no permanent solution to safely store radioactive nuclear waste. Ratepayers and taxpayers will likely pay for the cost of long-term radioactive waste storage.
Frequent Mishaps Jeopardize Health & Safety
The following is a short representative list of significant events that occurred on the grounds of Vermont Yankee since its purchase by Entergy. These events are a symptom of a hap-hazard and cavalier approach to maintenance. Entergy defers maintenance in order to make a profit and our safety and surrounding landscape are at risk.
• On April 20, 2004, Entergy announced it was missing 2 radioactive fuel rods. The misplaced fuel rods were not found until July.
• On June 18, 2004 Vermont Yankee's main transformer caught fire and caused the reactor to automatically shut down. Approximately, 10-20 gallons of toxic transformer fuel reportedly entered the Connecticut River.
• On August 21 2007, a portion of Vermont Yankee's cooling tower collapsed causing Entergy to immediately cut production below 50%.
• On August 30 2007, an emergency shutdown (SCRAM) due to a stuck valve took Vermont Yankee completely offline. Estimates put the cost to Vermont ratepayers at tens of thousands of dollars.
• As of August 2007, nearly 70 cracks have been identified in Vermont Yankee's steam dryer.
Vermont Yankee releases radiation into the atmosphere every day. It exceeded 20 millrems of radiation at the fence line per year three times since 1998. Vermont Yankee has released over 400,000 curies of air-borne pollution over the last 35 years. While Entergy, federal and state officials have dismissed the significance of these readings, the BEIR VII report, an exhaustive study done by the National Academy of Science, concludes that any amount of ionizing radiation is dangerous to humans.
Furthermore, statistics released by the Radiation and Public Health Project show that the death rate from cancer in Windham County has risen from 1% below the state average to 10% above over the last 20 years. Additionally, death rates for infants, children and young adults, those most susceptible to radiation exposure, range from 13% to 37% higher than the rest of the state. These findings raise serious questions regarding threats to public health and warrant swift analysis of the implications, something that has yet to be undertaken.