Incredible as it may seem, the Brattleboro Reformer is reporting that the NRC may allow Entergy to drop the Emergency Plan for Vermont Yankee as early as sixteen months after the plant ceases operations.
In requesting release from this obligation, Entergy asserted the following:
“Within 15.4 months after shutdown, no credible accident at VY will result in radiological releases requiring offsite protective actions…The potential for a release of a large radiological source term to the environment from the high pressures and the temperatures associated with reactor operation will no longer exist.”
And if you believe that, may I interest you in a slightly used bridge?
To back-up their request for exemption, Entergy has created a best-case narrative that is one part fact, one part wishful thinking, and one part fairy story. You can read some of their assertions in the Reformer story, but be prepared to groan and strike your forehead repeatedly.
Entergy’s sunny forecast does not appear to have availed itself of the cautionary message in the 2000 Technical Study of Spent Fuel Pool Accident Risk at Decommissioning Nuclear Power Plants. As the document came from the NRC, one would hope that it will inform their decision.
One salient bit is the following:
“In its thermal-hydraulic analysis, documented in Appendix 1A, the staff concluded that it was not feasible, without numerous constraints, to establish a generic decay heat level (and therefore a decay time) beyond which a zirconium fire is physically impossible. ” (p.x)
In other words, Entergy cannot possibly know that, after just sixteen months there will be no further potential for a radioactive release from the spent fuel pool.
Not surprisingly, the assumptions employed by Entergy in its optimistic math formulas appear to support its request for exemption.
Spokesman for the NRC, Neil Sheehan says they are reviewing the figures.
“They show that the spent fuel will have decayed to the extent that the requested exemption can be implemented without compensatory actions,” he said. “The heat load starts to drop off pretty dramatically after it’s moved into the spent fuel pool.”
No doubt; but let us hope that the NRC reviews their own homework from 2000.
Apparently the state is totally powerless to compel Entergy to mantain an emergency plan if the NRC releases them from that obligation.
So get your cards and letters into the NRC before it’s too late. Tell them we deserve their continued protection. If they fail us now, there will be yet another cautionary tale to share with any community that might be considering a nuclear power plant in their energy future.