Letter: Fueled by Emotion, Misinformation

To the Editor:

In her Nov. 29 letter (“Shut Down Vermont Yankee”), Betsy Eldredge asks the Public Service Board to deny Vermont Yankee a new certificate of public good. She says she doesn’t trust Vermont Yankee, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission or the federal courts. She is entitled to her opinion and feelings.

The letter is a good example of how some Vermont Yankee opponents are perhaps too emotionally involved. It mixes facts with opinion and wrong information.

One of the incorrect items is the claim that Entergy is “ignoring the rising but impending costs of decommissioning.” It is not possible for any facility to ignore decommissioning costs because a decommissioning fund is required by law, and the amount is dictated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The proof was in the Valley News a few years ago. When the stock market fell a long way in 2008, the value of the decommissioning funds of several nuclear power plants fell below the amount required by the NRC. These plants, including Vermont Yankee, got NRC letters requiring them to immediately contribute more to the fund. NRC oversight of the fund should be well known to Vermont Yankee opponents. At one of the NRC’s annual public meetings a few years ago, the official who oversees the fund was brought in to explain it and be available for questioning. I was there. If Eldredge wasn’t, her colleagues should have given her the facts, or she should have checked with them before writing.

Opponents assert that Vermont should be able to shut down Vermont Yankee because of “states’ rights.” The Constitution also contains federal rights and the people’s rights. In the Cedar Creek Room at the Statehouse hangs a painting of the Civil War battle of that name. This should be a reminder that the relationship between state and federal rights has been settled. This issue is at the crux of the lawsuit against the state. The issue of states’ rights is often raised by those who lose politically or legally. (See segregation.)

Howard Shaffer

Systems Engineer, Startup Engineer at Vermont Yankee