Should groups that celebrate loss of 600 MWe of reliable, ultra-low emission nuclear be called “environmental?”

Greenpeace USA published a blog post on December 22, a week before the scheduled shutdown of the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station titled ONE LESS FUKUSHIMA-TYPE NUCLEAR REACTOR THREATENING THE U.S. that celebrates the fact that New England is losing another reliable, natural gas-free, CO2-free, electricity production facility.

The blog’s author, Jim Riccio, is proud of having worked for more than two decades as an antinuclear activist. His Greenpeace blog post describes the focused effort that was required to bring about the decisions to close the plant and relates it to similar efforts to shut down several other nuclear plants in New England.

John F. Kennedy once said the “Victory has a thousand fathers ….” This one had a mother and a lot of aunts and uncles too. I cannot mention Vermont Yankee or Yankee Rowe for that matter without lauding my friend and colleague Deb Katz and the Citizen’s Awareness Network. (CAN) Deb and CAN understood that the restructuring of the electricity market offered Vermonters an opportunity to have a say in the fate of Vermont Yankee. They got Vermont the vote that precipitated this shutdown. By the time the Vermont Senate voted on Vermont Yankee the decision to shut it down was almost unanimous. The Senate vote was 26 to 4.

Also, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the efforts of Governor Peter Shumlin (D) and his administration. Their tenacity and willingness to fight for the people of Vermont in court and in the public arena helped ensure the shutdown vote stuck.

I’ve engaged with Riccio on more than one occasion. He is a stubborn man with little or no understanding of the way that his actions affect people and the environment. He has no technical training; his arguments often sound like they are coming from a list of general talking points designed to confuse and appeal to emotions rather than reason. Though emotional arguments can be alluring, they can often be evaluated to be harmful over the course of time as long as someone remembers and assigns accountability for the resulting decisions.

Here is the comment that I submitted on Jim’s post. I suspect it might not be visible to anyone else.

@Jim Riccio

Have you ever visited Vernon, VT and noticed how far it is from the ocean? Have you ever toured the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Plant and seen the diversely located diesel generators, the hardened containment vent, and the other modifications that were installed years ago that prevent the plant from being vulnerable to the kind of loss of all electrical power event that caused such serious plant damage at Fukushima?

It is misleading to emphasize that Vermont Yankee is similar to the reactors that were damaged at Fukushima Daiichi when it is different in such key areas. It would be more accurate to point out that it is the same design as the Onagawa reactors.

In case that allusion escapes you, Onagawa is a Japanese coastal nuclear power station with four GE BWR’s (three Mk-1s and one Mk-2) that is closer to the epicenter of the Sendai earthquake than Fukushima Daiichi is.

Because it was constructed under the supervision of a stubborn engineer who liked back-ups to his back-ups, it was on higher ground and had better protections than its sister plant at Fukushima Daiichi. Onagawa quietly rode out the series of natural disasters and then served as an emergency shelter for hundreds of people in the wake of the Great Northeast Japan earthquake and tsunami.

In the coming years, I will be pointing back to your post and asking you and your employers to take some amount of responsibility for the environmental harm and economic consequences of the coordinated effort to discredit Entergy, misinform the general public in Vermont, and ignore the interests of all of the rest of the plant’s neighbors.

Rod Adams
Publisher, Atomic Insights

In my opinion, groups that celebrate the loss of facilities like Vermont Yankee after working hard to ensure their untimely demise should never be referred to as “environmental.” They have proven by actions that they care little about the effects their actions have on the cleanliness and sustainability of the environment that supports their fellow human beings.

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