Sunday, September 8, 2013

Entergy announces permanent shutdown of Vermont Yankee reactor!

The good news keeps on coming....

Entergy announces permanent shutdown of Vermont Yankee reactor!

while radioactive waste issue intensifies...

August 27, 2013

Dear Friends,

Exactly fifteen years ago today, on August 27, 1998, I was arrested at a protest blocking the entrance to the Vermont Yankee nuclear reactor.

Arrested with me that day were Chris Williams, NIRS' current board chair; Paxus Calta, NIRS' former board chair; then-NIRS staffer Paul Gunter; life-long activist David Dellinger and 16 other people.

The protest was the culmination of the first Nuclear Free New England action camp, a joint project of NIRS and Citizens Awareness Network (CAN). We went back to Vermont Yankee the next year, and the next, and CAN has never let up in its efforts to close that most dangerous reactor. They and other Vermont grassroots groups like the SAGE Alliance and New England Coalition on Nuclear Pollution have continued protesting, legal actions, interventions, civil disobedience, lobbying, ultimately getting the weight of the entire state government behind them.

This morning, Entergy announced that we won: it's throwing in the towel at the end of Vermont Yankee's current fuel cycle--sometime next year if it doesn't break down again before then. Here's an article from the Burlington Free Press.

That makes five operating reactor shutdowns announced in the first three-fourths of this year. Six proposed new reactor projects ended permanently in that same period. And utilities have cancelled five proposed power uprates to existing reactors. We're down to 99 reactors in the U.S.

But there are a lot more highly vulnerable reactors out there. Diablo Canyon, Pilgrim, Indian Point, Palisades, Fort Calhoun, and more. It's time to close those too!

Radioactive Waste issue intensifies
We have two more weeks to collect signatures on our Stop Mobile Chernobyl petition. Then we will present the signatures to members of the Senate Energy Committee, which plans a September vote on S. 1240, its bill that would allow "consolidated interim storage" of high-level radioactive waste. Establishment of such a temporary site would do nothing to solve our intractable radioactive waste problem, but would set into motion the transport of thousands of casks filled with deadly waste across our highways, railways and waterways.

We've collected nearly 40,000 signatures so far! Thank you to everyone who has signed, shared and helped collect signatures on paper.

You can sign at any of these sites:

*On NIRS website here.

On the new CredoAction website here.

On the website here.

And you can download the petition here, to print and gather signatures on paper.

Let's get as many new signatures as possible in these final two weeks!

Meanwhile, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is pressing ahead with its new "waste confidence" rule. In 2012, a federal court said that the NRC had no basis to assume, as its rule did then, that radioactive waste could be stored safely and indefinitely. That ruling forced the NRC to stop issuing new reactor licenses and license renewals.

The NRC is scheduling several public meetings across the country to discuss its new proposed waste confidence rule, in the form of a Draft Generic Environmental Impact Statement, which, without basis, will assert that radioactive waste can be stored safely and indefinitely.

There will be two meetings in the Washington DC area, and nine more: in Boston, NYC, Toledo, Minneapolis, Denver, San Luis Obispo, San Clemente, Charlotte, Orlando--not necessarily in that order.

It's critical that as many people as possible attend each of these meetings.

Our position is that its time to stop making highly radioactive waste that we do not know what to do with and work on a responsible policy for what already exists. The NRC does not currently make a distinction between storage of this most hazardous waste in over-full fuel pools and dry storage on-site. This is an opportunity to let NRC know that we are deeply concerned about the status of the waste today, and view the only truly responsible policy to be to stop producing more of this waste.

What we recommend is:

1) Stop making more waste (close the reactors);
2) Unload irradiated fuel pools as soon as possible--into containers (dry casks);
3) Make on-site storage more secure for interim storage on the reactor site (HOSS);
4) Do not separate plutonium--this is waste that needs to be isolated from our environment, starting now;
5) When possible move the contained waste off reactor sites--but only once--to a permanent site. But we need to fix the transportation infrastructure first, and the site must meet scientifically-sound and environmentally responsible criteria, and not be a "forced siting."

We will send you more information on the dates and exact locations of these meetings soon, along with more talking points.

It's another great day in the remarkable collapse of the nuclear power industry in 2013. Enjoy it now; and get ready to keep up the pressure on the rest of the reactors, and on radioactive waste.

Thanks so much for your help and support, and for all that you do.
Michael Mariotte
Executive Director
Nuclear Information and Resource Service