Fairewind’s Associates’, Arnie Gundersen has answered our question about the safety implications of VY’s staff cuts:

1. 2003-  When VY increased its power by 20% in the “uprate”, it did not increase its staff.

2. 2009- The Oversight Panel found that VY’s staff was already too small

3. 2013- Now Entergy wants another 10% reduction.

Entergy is not cutting fat, they are cutting muscle!  The NRC stands by and lets this happen!

Those workers at VY are already overworked, based on my personal observation.  Don’t tell me safety is Entergy’s top priority.


It’s well past time to revisit the dysfunctional world of nuclear energy on GMD.  The downward spiral has been unwinding so relentlessly that I’m abandoning hope of ever giving each item the individual attention it so richly deserves, and am resorting to a sort of “rogues roll” of the news.

ITEM: Before we get all down and dirty with the nuclear walk of shame, take a few minutest to watch this compelling new video release from Fairewinds Associates  which goes right to the heart of the Fukushima conundrum…a slow-motion disaster that is nowhere near to resolution.  The title really nails it.

A Vermont-based non-profit (and I do mean non-profit!), Fairewinds does much of the educational heavy-lifting so necessary to bring attention to a host of critical issues around nuclear energy.  They need and deserve our support.

ITEM: On July 18, TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Corp.) revealed that

The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant stood ready Thursday to inject boric acid into one of its most heavily damaged reactors after it found steam emanating from the reactor building. The preventive measure would stave off sustained nuclear reactions in the reactor’s damaged core, though officials stressed that such reactions were a remote possibility.


The emphasis is mine, but where have we heard those assurances before?

ITEM: Same day; different continent…and right close to home, at that. Entergy revealed plans to reduce its workforce at Vermont Yankee by 10%, citing economic reasons.

Entergy’s stock has recently been downgraded from a “neutral” to a “sell.”  You might recall that this downgrade was announced soon after Entergy’s spectacular failure to provide dependable power to the Super Bowl this year.  You will also note that the company has not announced any plans to reduce the plant’s output, which was amped-up shortly before Yankee’s license was waived through the renewal process by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

*As jvwalt has asked in his diary below, exactly when does the ratio of workers to generation load tip the safety scales precipitously?

ITEM: Back in Japan again, the Nuclear Regulatory Authority is confronting a stand-off by owner/operators of the Tsuruga nuclear power plant which refuses to comply with an order to assess the ways in which a recently confirmed  active underground fault could impact stored fuel at the facility.

In the objection filed by the utility, Japan Atomic Power argues that providing such an assessment of the risk to spent fuel would be akin to concluding that the fault is active, which they fervently deny.  If the utility is unable to convince regulators that there is no fault under the reactor then they will be forced to decommission the reactor.

‘Talk about your proverbial rock and a hard place!

The debate as to whether or not to restart any of Japan’s idled reactors continues; but money talks and as you may have noticed even in U.S. media, there’s been a concerted effort to downplay the risks from radiation in an attempt to stem the tide of resistance.  But the economics are finally beginning to be seen for what they are, and there’s a definite chill in the air toward nuclear on Wall Street, where the bottom line is in permanent residence.

ITEM: Back in the good ol’ USA, our old friend Entergy (yes, again) has another crisis of confidence down in Arkansas, where it joins Bigge Group Inc, Biggie Power Constructors, Biggie Crane and Rigging Co., Siemens Energy Inc, DP Engineering Inc and a few others in defending themselves against a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the family of Wade Walters, a 24-year old worker at Arkansas Nuclear One, who was killed March 31 during an operation to remove the Main Turbine Generator Stator.  The suit alleges that Entergy “rushed” the job to completion without competent help, in order to avoid a late fine.   Charming.

“This is an action for wrongful death, ordinary negligence, negligent hiring, negligent training, negligent supervision, negligent retention, negligent hiring of an independent contractor, for declaratory judgment, and for punitive damages, stemming from multiple incidents of recklessness and negligence that lead to the collapse of an industrial crane on Easter Sunday, 2013, killing Wade Walters.”

Anytime I’m feeling too cheerful about the future, all I need is a quick visit to enformable.com for a quick reminder of just how hair-brained the idea of putting nuclear energy in private hands always was.

Be that as it may, I can’t resist this final tidbit just to lighten the mood.

ITEM: What’s wrong with this picture?  Workers at the Perry Nuclear Power Plant in Ohio were just doing their job, when they discovered a lemonade pitcher full of radioactive water and two goldfish in one of the steam tunnels.

No one’s fessing-up to the prank, but someone helpfully provided the information that there were originally five goldfish in the pitcher, but three were apparently removed.  No word on the condition of the fish but plenty of concern was raised over the state of security at the plant, and I have just read that Perry is one of >10 or 12 nuclear power plants at greatest risk of closing in the next decade or so, due to the economic downturn of the industry as a whole.  I would guess that frat-boy pranks won’t help much to extend the life of Perry.

Well, that’s all the radioactive news I can take for one day.

Have a good ‘un.

About Sue Prent

Artist/Writer/Activist living in St. Albans, Vermont with my husband since 1983. I was born in Chicago; moved to Montreal in 1969; lived there and in Berlin, W. Germany until we finally settled in St. Albans.

6 thoughts on “Updated:One…bad…day.

  1. Arnie said the word, ‘safety’ while mentioning nuclear power! That is a no-no, according to the NRC!

  2. Just a little rain falling on the reactor…that’s all!

    Title: Fukushima nuclear plant: Japan takes steps over sea leak

    Source: BBC News

    Date: July 23, 2013

    h/t Anonymous tip

    […]  (Tepco) said steam was seen around the fifth floor of the building housing Reactor No 3 […]

    It is not clear what is causing the steam […]

    The sight of steam rising is worrying because it means somewhere inside the reactor building water is boiling, says the BBC’s Rupert Wingfield-Hayes in Tokyo.

    Th badly damaged reactors are supposed to be in what is called “cold shutdown”; the temperature of the cooling water inside the reactor should be well below boiling point.

    It is another sign that Tepco still does not fully know what is going on inside the damaged reactors […]


    Comment to story:

    The reactors are not damaged, they are DESTROYED!

    (big difference)

    “Tepco still does not fully know what is going on…”

    – BBC News

    865 days nonstop!!!

    Accumulating and Spreading…

    No end in sight…

    Heard this whopper on NPR this morning, can’t find story but this is the same one:

    Fukushima rainfall caused steam above reactor, says Tepco

    Firm says radiation levels are stable after video images showed steam rising from damaged building housing reactor No 3

    Justin McCurry in Tokyo

    guardian.co.uk, Thursday 18 July 2013 EDT

    The operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant said on Thursday that radiation levels were stable after vapour was detected coming from one of the three reactors that went into meltdown after the triple disaster in Japan in March 2011.

    Video images showed the vapour, which is thought to be steam, rising from the damaged building housing reactor No 3.

    Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), reeling from recent criticism of its handling of contaminated water at the plant, said the reactor’s spent fuel pool was stable, adding that there had been no significant rises in radiation levels in the vicinity.

    A worker monitoring live camera images noticed that what appeared to be steam was hovering just above the primary containment vessel at 8.20am on Thursday. The vapour was still visible two hours later, reports said.

    Tepco said rainfall on Wednesday night could have been the cause.

    “We think it’s possible that rain made its way through the reactor building and having fallen on the primary containment vessel, which is hot, evaporated and created steam,” said Mayumi Yoshida, a Tepco spokeswoman.


    Uh huh…

  3. and for faithfully continuing to bring these important updates. Not for the fainthearted that’s for sure…

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