The nuclear power boys are weaseling again, this time in Vermont.
Entergy Corporation, an electric utility giant based in New Orleans, owns the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant, which is nearing the end of its 40-year license to operate.
No problem, here’s a 20-year extension of your license, said the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission (a notorious industry lapdog). But, wait, said Vermont officials. Entergy signed an agreement with us to seek state approval for continuing to operate the 40-year old reactor–and our legislature has decided, in a word, “no.”
So the corporation has gone running to federal court to weasel out of its state agreement, arguing that federal authority takes precedent over local on nuclear matters. Entergy insists that decisions made by Vermont’s legislature are “political,” whereas the NRC decision to extend the license is made by “experts.” Besides, says an Entergy executive, Vermont Yankee has gotten good safety and performance ratings from an industry group. So trust us, says Entergy.
An industry group? Isn’t that like saying your mother thinks you’re doing a good job? Curiously, Entergy refuses to release the industry report. Trust us, it says again.
Uh, no. The Vermont Yankee nuke plant is the same vintage and make as the crippled reactors at Japan’s Fukushima Dai-Ichi power station, and it has recently had embarrassing operational issues. For example, corporate officials testified to legislators in 2009 that radioactive tritium couldn’t leak into soil and water because the facility had no buried pipes. Trust us, they reiterated. But only a few months later, a tritium leak from an underground pipe was discovered.
Trust us? Not on your life, much less our lives. That’s why decisions on nuclear power must be political. The people — not “experts” — must rule.