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Letter: The Facts About Vt. Yankee

Thursday, March 07, 2013

To the Editor:

You recently published a Perspectives page commentary and three responses about Vermont Yankee. The letters illustrate the debate. Opponents use only words, never any numbers or comparisons. The letters string together charges — each of which would take at least a whole letter to answer. They inflate facts.

The first letter charges that one of the cooling towers at Vermont Yankee hasn’t been rebuilt. This is not only inaccurate, but ridiculous from a financial standpoint. If the tower had not been repaired, the plant would have had to reduce power and lose money. The facts: one cell of 11 in one of the two towers collapsed. It was bypassed, the tower returned to service and then repaired in the off season. Pictures of the one cell have been widely distributed by opponents, and are still on Google images. The cell was repaired. The other accusations in that letter (about thermal discharge and fuel pools) would take two more letters to answer. But the idea that the tower wasn’t repaired — that’s easy: It was!

The second letter says safety and finances are related. Congress thought so, too. Regulations require financial viability to get a license and keep it. They also require collecting money for decommissioning and used fuel disposal, on a pay-as-you go basis, paid into government regulated funds.

The third letter claims tritium is dangerous. So is arsenic in our drinking water — or not, depending on the amount. Drinking water is needed for life, but can kill you — as was proven by the tragic case of the marathon runner who drank too much. The op-ed never said that tritium in any amount was not dangerous, just that the tritium-tainted water that leaked from Vermont Yankee was not. “The dose makes the poison” is true of radiation, too.

Howard Shaffer

Startup engineer at Vermont Yankee


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