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Letter: A Telling Photo of Vermont Yankee

Tuesday, June 04, 2013
To the Editor:

The photo of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant on the front page of the Feb. 10 Sunday Perspectives section (“Lawyers Can’t Rescue a Weak Case”) illustrates at least three reasons why the plant should never have been allowed to continue operating after its license expired last March. See if you can dig it out of the recycling bin.

You can tell it’s an old photo because both banks of cooling towers are working. One has since collapsed (in 2007) due to lack of maintenance and has never been repaired.

That’s cooling water being discharged into the Connecticut in the lower right hand corner of the picture. That water is a lot hotter today than it should be and is affecting the fish and all other life in the river below the plant.

The biggest cause of concern is the light colored structure on the top of the reactor building, the largest building in the photograph. That structure is a sheet metal building that houses over 1,500 used fuel rods, right above the reactor’s containment building. It doesn’t take much of an imagination to picture how that building might be compromised in this age of severe weather incidents and terrorist attacks. Those fuel rods should be secured somewhere far away from the plant. They contain some of the most toxic material on Earth and, if the pools in which they lie were to be drained of water, most of Windham County, Vt., Cheshire County, N.H. and Franklin County, Mass., would become uninhabitable. Would you want to stay in the Upper Valley after such an event? The Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the sole guarantor of the safety of nuclear power plants, has received 71 requests for license extensions of nuclear plants and has approved all of them. Does that make you feel any safer?

Please take the time to inform yourself about nuclear power and how it could affect us all.

Patrick Kearney



The following correction appeared in the Feb. 28 edition of the Valley News:

The cooling tower at the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant that collapsed in 2007 was permanently repaired and back in service by May 2008. A letter published Feb. 14 incorrectly asserted that the structure had never been repaired.

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