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ďIf a man has an apartment stacked to the ceiling with newspapers we call him crazy. If a woman has a trailer house full of cats we call her nuts. But when people pathologically hoard so much cash that they impoverish the entire nation, we put them on the cover of Fortune magazine and pretend that they are role models.Ē
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 Business/Economy: LETíS PRETEND

VermontFrom: Bill Pearson

To the editor,
The Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant is a great subject for a game of ďLetís Pretend.Ē

Letís pretend that running a 38 year old reactor at 120% of its original design capacity is a safe and responsible thing to do and completely unrelated to milking the plant for profits.

Letís pretend that VYís management will never lie to us again about safety-related issues at the plant.

Letís pretend that those three nuclear engineers who resigned from General Electric in the early 70s because they believed that the General Electric BWR Mark I (VYís reactor type) containment vessel was defective, didnít know what they were talking about.

Letís pretend that the Brookhaven National Lab got it all wrong when they estimated that a spent fuel fire could lead to140,000 cases of cancer, contaminate thousands of square miles of land, and cause over $500 billion in off-site property damage.

Letís pretend that our homeownerís insurance will cover any losses from a radiological accident at VY.

Letís pretend that the Unionof Concerned Scientists never found out in 1978 that only one to five percent of safety-related nuclear power plant activities were being inspected and that most regulatory standards were drafted by the nuclear industry itself. ...



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Letís pretend that the Critical Mass Energy Project never urged the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in October, 1996 to shut down 25 nuclear reactors because they were ďdisasters waiting to happen.Ē

Letís pretend that this same group miscalculated when it announced that 2,300 incidents of operational errors and mechanical failures had occurred at U.S. nuclear power plants in 1979.

Letís pretend that Admiral Hyman Rickover, father of the U.S. nuclear Navy, never said that if the whole truth about the Three Mile Island nuclear plant partial meltdown in 1979 was made known, it would have destroyed the nuclear power industry in the U.S.

Letís pretend that any day now, technology will find a way to safely dispose of high-level nuclear waste.

Letís pretend that VYís fuel rods came from uranium mining, milling, and enrichment that didnít release any CO2; and that VYís construction didnít result in any CO2 emissions, and that VYís eventual decommissioning will likewise produce no CO2, so folks can continue to claim that nuclear power fights global warming by producing zero CO2.

Letís pretend that routine low-level radioactive emissions from VY, despite the National Academy of Scienceís 2005 BEIR VII Report that even the smallest levels of ionizing radiation can cause harm in humans, are nothing to worry about.

Letís pretend that the 33.4% decrease in infant mortality following the closing of Maine Yankee must have been the figment of someoneís imagination.

Letís pretend that the part of the NRCís mission statement having to do with ďproviding for the common defense,Ē could not be related to VYís potential to supply plutonium for nuclear weapons.

Letís pretend that the fact that VYís power only represents 2% of the power available from the New England grid is merely spin from the anti-nuke political agenda.

Letís pretend that discussions about conservation of energy and energy efficiency are totally irrelevant when debating the merits of nuclear power.

Letís pretend that a 2002 report written for the Vermont Department of Public Service must have been full of typos when it estimated that the state could meet 30% of its 2012 electric demand through cost-effective efficiency.

Letís pretend that the amount we rate-payers spend for each kilowatt of electricity to light our homes and dry our clothes is really and truly all we need to be concerned about.

Letís pretend that VYís transformer fire, cooling tower collapse, submerged electrical cables, and leaks of cobalt 60, cesium 127, strontium 90, and tritium into the public domain groundwater are not related in any way to public health or safety.

Letís pretend that a mishap in May of 2008 involving a 1960ís era refueling floor crane dropping a 100 ton cask of spent fuel assemblies (due, said the NRC, to neglected maintenance on the crane), represented no threat to the health or safety of the public.

Letís pretend that VYís miles of pipes and cables, its thousands of valves, pumps, and switches as well as its various containment structures are all impervious to the ravages of aging, embrittlement, and corrosion; and good to go for another 20 years without posing any threat to public health or safety.

Letís pretend that future generations of Vermonters, thousands of them, will happily monitor and re-cask all the high-level waste we choose to generate and never begrudge us for our profligacy.

Letís pretend that the stock market, despite these perilous economic times, will be able to generate the additional $600 million that VY ďgreen fieldĒ decommissioning will require so that Vermonters will not be left holding the bag.

Letís pretend that, in the event of a ďgeneral emergency,Ē our evacuation plans will provide for the timely and safe relocation of all residents within VYís 10 mile emergency planning zone from their homes, schools, hospitals, nursing homes, restaurants, and outlying communities even during an ice storm or blizzard in the dead of night.

Letís pretend that earthquakes and 100 year floods will never happen in southeastern Vermont and couldnít possibly affect VY.

Letís pretend that no VY employees will ever go to work incapacitated by alcohol or recreational drugs and have jobs related to safety systems at the plant.

Letís pretend that all the folks working at VY were somehow never informed when hired that their jobs could not be guaranteed beyond 3.21.12.

Letís pretend that J. Wayne Leonard, Entergyís CEO, is a gentleman whose education, advanced degrees, and expertise really merits a salary amounting to $12,980.77 per hour (2010 figures, $29 million total compensation).

Letís pretend that the sheet metal roof over VYís spent fuel pool is robust enough to repel a crashing airliner that could otherwise release millions of times the amount of radioactive curies from those atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Letís pretend that every one of the 59 nuclear power plants that applied to the NRC for 20 year license extensions was approved by some legitimate procedure rather than a rubber stamp.

Letís pretend that Greenpeace Internationalís calendar commemorating an accident at a nuclear power plant somewhere in the world on every single day of the year is not related in any way to the safety of Vermont Yankee.

Letís pretend that Entergyís 11th hour attempt to sell VY simply represents an astute business decision and has nothing to do with the desire to unload a troubled plant.

After 38 years of pretending that Vermont Yankee is providing us with safe, clean, and green electricity, isnít it time to stop playing our game of ďLetís Pretend?Ē

************

Bill Pearson, Brattleboro, Vermont, 12.6.10

************

[11 December 2010]





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