Entergy Vermont Yankee takes a leak into the future

The Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant is shutdown, no longer generating power and starting the decommissioning process. And Entergy VY is still struggling with a persistent ground water intrusion problem (think very leaky basement) in and through the nuclear reactor turbine building.curleyleaks

Back when the plant was operating, there was, it seemed, always a steady drip, drip, drip of news coming out of the troubled plant — a high temperature electrical fire here, a decayed cooling tower collapse there, and forty mysterious underground pipes “discovered” as  the source of radioactive tritiated water leaks — just to name a few of the ‘highlights.’ So the current radioactive water intrusion is only the latest in a long history of mishaps.

Happily Vtdigger.com reports VY officials think they have gotten a handle on the rising tides: “Vermont Yankee administrators say they’re getting a stubborn groundwater intrusion problem under control and are no longer pursuing a proposal to discharge radioactive water into the Connecticut River.”

Early this spring Entergy bought homeowner-grade kiddie pools (the NRC actually approved their use for this purpose) to hold the overflow. The pools were then abandoned in favor of more durable rubber storage bladders; gallons of contaminated water were shipped out by tanker truck, an expensive task. And now reports suggest the company will no longer pursue state permission to dump its tainted water into the Connecticut River.

The aggressive flow of water, at its height in February, was as much as 3,000 gallons a day. Yet  officials maintain: “Simply sealing “a number of cracks” in the turbine building has helped.”

And the Entergy VY spokesflack brags: “We had a plan, we implemented the plan, and the plan worked.”FreeVYpoolz

Aw come on, “We had a plan!”  Bah! I think they are winging it –right from the time they rushed out to buy their first kiddie pool to capture overflows of radio-active water.

And now, what VY fails to mention and the reporter at Vtdigger.com definitely should have noted is that Vermont and most of the Northeast are in the midst of record-breaking drought!   Vermont has seen record low rainfall, with the drought  even more severe in Southern New Hampshire and Western Massachusetts.

Ground water levels are low throughout the region — therefore groundwater intrusion at VY’s turbine building would be record low. No water = no leaks!

But Entergy is decommissioning and headed out VY’s back door, pausing just long enough to patch a few cracks in the ‘basement,’ bless Mother Nature for the lack of rain, and cross their corporate fingers. I wonder if part of their plan includes setting up the kiddie pools again next spring?


9 thoughts on “Entergy Vermont Yankee takes a leak into the future

  1. Well spotted, BP! Look for a Friday news dump, sometime after water levels rise again, revealing that water is once again inundating the turbine building.

    What will they say? I predict something like this, “We fixed the last leaks simply by sealing some cracks and we’ll fix these the same way…no biggie.”

  2. Ah the memories. Literally ROFLMAO when I first saw that pic.Was used for a story you wrote during of the “tiny 1/8″ holes” punctuated by “tiny puffs of steam” leak series, with dripping measured by the drops-per-selected-timeframe to avoid quantifying precise amount for the leak-of-the-week. So the kiddie-pool fix fit right into their half-assed bubble-gumming duct-tape reparation protocol in the good old days.

    Who can forget the trashing of prescient Arne Gundersen who knew all along about the pipes & attempted silencing by VDH nuclear stooge acting as goon for Entergy Lousiana Bill Irwin.

    And the great umbrage taken by the arrogant “hardworking employees” followed by staunch defense no matter how ridiculous the logic used as the plant fell apart for such things as crashing cooling towers. Expected undying loyalty & to be treated as heroes doing us a huge favor for supposedly keeping our lights on. And the threats of freezing in the dark should we give the asses of these highly paid six-figure “experts” the boot.

    Interestingly, Pilgrim in MA resolutely refused to be associated with the “safety culture” at VY — both being owned by Entergy Louisiana so no, we were never off the mark they were just trying to keep their Golden Goose alive to our detriment.

    1. Yes; time for a walk down memory lane.

      Remember the time there was a fire in a control room and, when it was revealed in the Friday news dump, the Energy spokesman said they were “investigating the possibility” that it was anti-nuke sabotage?

      Of course, we NEVER heard any more about that red herring.

        1. Oh, that’s right. It was a poor guy whose meds needed adjustment, and he’d had other incidents in other locations around Brattleboro…nothing to do with people who were struggling to close VY.

  3. For what it’s worth, the VY site was intensively studied about 20 years ago as a potential site for a Vermont “low-level” radioactive waste site. First Heindel, Wagner, and Noyes and then Battelle, in a far more systematic and comprehensive (and expensive!) effort found that groundwater on the site is VERY near the surface and flows quite quickly into the CT River.

    Going strictly from memory, I think VY sits on roughly 100 acres, so the potential LLW site and the plant are not necessarily all that close together. But it would be unsurprising to me if they shared the characteristic just sited. The soil also had extremely poor characteristics for retaining radionuclides, so releases from the facility would have reached the river in short order. About as bad a site for waste as can be imagined! After spending $1M +, they too got the message.

  4. More trips down memory lane indeed.
    Particularly reminds me of the regulatory laissez-faire golden years (2003-2011) shepherded by the dynamic duo — The Douglas Admin. and the State’s Attorney General’s office — & their ONE-TWO punch of in-depth oversight.

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