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Political notes from Free Press staff writers Terri Hallenbeck, Sam Hemingway and Nancy Remsen



On tap for Vermont Yankee

Can a week go by without something happening that involves Vermont Yankee?

Not this week, at least.

Wednesday afternoon, the Public Service Board will hold a hearing on whether Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee should cease operating the nuclear plant until it finds and fixes the tritium leak.

The hearing will also consider whether there is cause to revoke the plant’s certificate of public good and whether the company should be penalized for the radioactive leaks.

Meanwhile, down at the plant, a "remotely operated vehicle" continues its probe of a tunnel and drainpipes that have been found to leak.

According to Monday’s dispatch from Entergy, "The inspection will allow engineers to determine the source for the small amount of leakage remaining internal to the tunnel and develop additional remediation steps that can be taken to completely eliminate the leak. As previously reported, water coming from the pipe is not reaching the environment. The water is being collected in a sump for processing through plant systems as designed."

Does it help Yankee's case before the board that there's been progress in identifying the cause of the leak?

— Nancy Remsen

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Independent and Federal studies show nuclear power plants have routine effluent emissions that contain carcinogenic isotopes. So your question should be should this reactor start up with a higher than the normal amount of carcinogenic routine releases? VY is the first first Boiling Water Reactor(Generation I, commissioned in 1972. A runner up called Oyster Creek, VY and many other old reactors leak tritium water. But unlike OC, VY has been uprated by 20% to the highest operation level of any reactor in the country except for a Gen. III BWR Clinton in IL. VY was not designed to operate at 120%. An old and uprated reactor is trouble and is asking for more and more trouble each day of its operation.

Here are the facts about VY, effluents and emissions: "The Vermont Department of Health, nor any other state agency, has ever conducted any studies addressing actual contamination to the environment posed by Vermont Yankee and potential health risks to local residents." (This is Joe Mangano of Radiation and Public Health Projects speaking. He writes: "A review of official government statistics reveal some disturbing patterns, including:
- Radioactive emissions from VY are among the highest in the U.S. In 2002(for ex.)it ranked 9th and 13th highest in Strontium-89 and Iodine-131 emissions. (blogger interjects: bone, breast, and thyroid cancer)

- Average airborne radioactivity levels near the reactor were 30-58% higher in 2007 than 15 miles from/upwind of the reactor.

- Average waterborne radioactivity levels near the reactor were 4-11 times higher in 2007 in downstream vs. upstream locations.

- Average levels of Strontium-90 in baby teeth in Windham and Cheshire counties are 62% greater than other VT/NH counties.

- In 1979-2005, among Vermont counties, Windham has the 2nd highest death rate for infants under 1 year; 1st highest birth defect rate; and 2nd highest death rate for children and young adults age 1-34. (blogger adds: assimilated, organically bound tritum is an important cause of the above)

- In 1999-2005, the Windham County cancer death rate was the highest of any Vermont county (741 deaths). The Windham County cancer death rate was 5% below the state rate in the early 1980s, but is now 10% above the state." Joe goes on to say: "Local health improves when reactors shut down, according to journal articles published in 2000 and 2002 by the Radiation and Public Health Project (RPHP), an independent research group based in New York. RPHP examined changes in local health near eight U.S. nuclear plants that closed in the 1980s and 1990s that are at least 70 miles from any other nuclear plant. In the first two years after shut down, local rates of infant deaths and childhood cancer plunged, far more rapidly than state or national trends. RPHP is now examining long-term changes after shut down. Closing Vermont Yankee would improve the health of Vermonters living nearby." It is imperative the VY shut down now and stay that way until all effluents by valve, stack, and pipes to and from the AOG Advanced Off Gas area be permanently fixed and all pipes are open to constant observation. If not possible it should stay shut down.
Baseless claims from an Anonymous blogger. How do you measure strontium-90 in baby teeth and compare it the national average? You're full of crap. Then you take statistics from 2002. Why? Because more recent data disproves your story? Nice 'official' statistics. Here's one more. 100% of people buried in cemeteries are dead. Wow! That's bad!
The replacement power may be produced using coal and oil - how green is that?
The replacement power, except what we get from HQ, WILL -- not may -- WILL be purchased from out of state plants that: a) burn coal, oil, or natural gas, b) that is imported from places like Iraq, c) that produce greenhouse gas, d) whose pollution will blow into Vermont, e) will be more expensive, and f) will cost us 650 good-paying jobs.

Great idea!
Anonymous (gutless) insults all of us who have opposing thumbs. Check out this web site for the ACTUAL cancer death rates across Vermont. From 2002 to 2006 Windham County had the fifth smallest cancer death rate in Vermont. http://statecancerprofiles.cancer.gov

Sometimes the truth hurts. Some people refuse to accept the truth.

David Andrews, Vernon, Vermont
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