November 20th, 2007

Sanders Update: Vermont Yankee’s Bad Week Now In Eighteenth Straight Bad Week

by Philip Baruth

The news for Vermont Yankee and its parent corporation Entergy has been bleak since this past summer. Public suspicion up, water cooling towers down — it’s all been one savage blur of bad publicity. And the news Sunday that VY transferred some very hot machinery to Pennsylvania in 2006, and had their safety rating quietly lowered as a result, doesn’t help matters much.

bernie stares down lunch

Enter Bernie, packing epistolary heat.

A few months back, Sanders took the head of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to task for failing to ride herd on Yankee. And now Bernie’s back, with a letter to the NRC designed to maintain the pressure for the Independent Safety Assessment.

That would be the same ISA Jim Douglas strenuously opposed in the days before the cooling tower collapse, and now tepidly supports.

Imagine the sinking feeling in the gut of Dale Klein as he spots the name “Bernard Sanders” on the return address.

NRC chairman Dale Klein

Dear Chairman Klein:

I am writing regarding the continued — and growing — concern in Vermont about safety issues at the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant.

It was deeply disturbing to learn of a newly-disclosed problem at Vermont Yankee. Yesterday, Vermont’s largest daily, the Burlington Free Press, reported that Vermont Yankee transferred a piece of machinery with abnormally high radiation readings, well above the allowable 200 millirems per hour limit, to a Pennsylvania plant in August 2006. As a result, the US NRC lowered Vermont Yankee’s safety rating last year.

This revelation only heightens anxiety that Vermont Yankee suffers from safety deficits, including some that may remain undisclosed — or undiscovered. It also provides additional justification for the performance of an Independent Safety Assessment.

There’s more, but you get the flavor: biting, with a pinch of salt. For the NRC’s wounds, that is.

Late Update, Sunday, November 25th, 11:09 am:

Turns out that this news story about VY’s hot Pennsylvania machinery is no news: before closing its doors, the Vermont Guardian had the story back in September of 2006.

Now that’s a scoop. Makes you long for the old days.