It’s nice to see Vermont standing up to Entergy, who, soon after Yankee cuts the power, would like to simply walk away from their obligation to provide emergency planning.
Public Service Department Commissioner Chris Recchia refused to buy into Entergy’s whopper of an assertion before the U.S. Senate commission on decommissioning that, as of sixteen months after the December shutdown, no further public risk will exist.
We have 3,800 fuels rods in a pool designed for 350. We don’t think that it’s safe to eliminate the emergency protection zones until the fuel is, at the minimum, in dry cask,” Recchia told the committee, which includes Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.
The Senator agrees and thinks its about time the NRC yields more power to individual states to negotiate their own terms regarding the decommissioning of nuclear plants that they have hosted.
“Currently a nuclear plant operator could adopt a decommissioning plan that ignores the needs and interests of the public and the state would have no recourse. That is fundamentally unfair and unreasonable,” Sanders said. “This is simply about ensuring that states have the opportunity to play a meaningful role in a decision that has enormous economic, environmental and community impacts.”
And citing another concerning situation of excessive spent fuel backlogs at San Onofre (California), Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) challenged NRC representative, Michael Weber about the dangers the stockpile poses to millions of Californians:
“Your own chairman wrote that if there’s an accident (at a spent fuel pool) it could be worse than Chernobyl,” she said.
Senators Sanders and Boxer are co-sponsoring a bill that would not allow the NRC to exempt nuclear plant operators from safety requirements while spent fuel remained on site and unprotected by dry cask storage.
Politically opposed to regulation of any kind, for any reason, Republicans would like things to remain exactly as they are, with a completely toothless NRC serving the interests of the industry first and local communities a distant second.
Senator Sessions (R), of Alabama, argues that the NRC is doing a fine job; then adds, tellingly, that he thinks closing nuclear plants will “drive up” the cost of energy.
“The NRC has a proven record of success in regulating these matters,” said Sessions, a member of the committee. “We endanger a weak economy by driving up the cost of energy by closing up plants that could be productive for a decade or more.”
Uh, Senator, it is the power companies themselves who are making the economic decision to close nuclear facilities, which are no longer cost-efficient to operate. They are answering the call of capitalism, at whose altar you are usually only too happy to worship.
Nevermind, Senator Sessions; go back to guarding the morals of Alabama’s poor folks and don’t trouble your snowy brow with economics.