Home Depot and Lowe’s big box stores near Brattleboro, VT, and Keane, NH, are unable to restock inventories of a favorite brand of family pools from suppliers. These are Inertex brand family pools, an inexpensive line that Entergy put into use recently at Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant.
The Vermont Yankee facility (although no longer producing power) faced a dilemma about the storage of thousands of gallons of water, contaminated by low-level radioactive tritium, leaking into the plant.
The solution they settled on was to purchase a dozen different sizes and shape Inertex Swimee Poolz® from local big-box stores to serve as a stopgap water storage.
It wasn’t long before Inertex’s lawyers and insurance underwriters got word of the unique use VY found for the lightweight family pools. Alarmed by liability implications, beginning the first of April they will impose a moratorium on shipping replacement units to retail outlets in the area around Northern Mass, and Southern Vermont to prevent VY obtaining more pools.
News of the distribution cut-back quickly leaked out to media outlets. And late Thursday, a spokesperson for the fool manufacturer provided details to a local reporter’s inquiry:
Natacio Piscina, a lawyer representing Inertex Co. Ltd., returned an official response:“It has come to our attention that Entergy Vermont Yankee in Vernon purchased and used several models of Inertex Swimee Poolz® line in a manner inconsistent with and in violation of the legally binding U.S. Swim Pool Association (USSPA) standardized agreement and guidelines for home recreational usage.(SPA sec.42.13)
Entergy VY management is well aware Inertex Industrial manufactures quality bladders and absorbent products specifically for leaks, overflows and toxic fluid containment. In fact VY has utilized these products in the past. Therefore it is our contention that Entergy is knowingly engaged in a willful misuse of our consumer models of Inertex Swimee Poolz®.
Our legal team has contacted Entergy officials at Vermont Yankee with our concerns and we are considering our next action.
Piscina added an unofficial concern for Entergy VY’s sole focus on excessive cost containment, and he personally worries they were not utilizing safe solutions for occasional storage and fluid flow problems so common at nuclear facilities of this age.
Compounding problems, Vermont Yankee is struggling with criticism over a misguided goodwill community PR gesture called; VY’s April Poolz. Once emptied of tritiated water and no longer needed, dozens Inertex Swimee Poolz® from the plant were donated to municipal parks and rec. departments in several nearby towns.
Town officials, initially pleased were soon shocked to learn the gift pools had once held gallons of low-level nuclear water. Stunned, officials in all but the small town of Linaw, NH, quickly returned VY’s tainted pools. “The April Poolz is ours now. And I… um, we are free to keep it” said Don Leacht, Linaw’s Parks and Rec. director.
Frustrated Entergy VY officials are pressing for its return, but due to a “quirk” in NRC rules the town cannot be forced.
Reached for comment, NRC regional inspector Neal Shoehern explained the NRC does have a policy governing disposal of sanctioned Improvised Temporary Water Unit Storage (ITWUS).However, it has no authority regarding the re-use of unsanctioned improvised vessels. NRC’s Shoehern said: “If ITWUS not authorized it is not the NRC’s responsibility.”
Shoehern says the NRC is staying with the story that: “At Vermont Yankee there was no known danger to the public at anytime, ever from anything even remotely associated with the nuclear power industry, ever”