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The Commons
Voices / Letters from readers

VY may be closing, but the danger still remains

Originally published in The Commons issue #261 (Wednesday, July 2, 2014). This story appeared on page D2.

Entergy wants to end the system of sirens, free “tone alert radios” for people within 10 miles of the Vermont Yankee, and automated phone calls in case of a nuclear emergency.

Thanks to a protest movement in the Brattleboro area that saw thousands march and hundreds arrested for non-violent, civil disobedience, the 42-year-old reactor will close permanently in December.

But when Vermont Yankee closes, its 530 or so tons of nuclear waste will remain on site. The waste is the deadliest material on earth. According to the federal government, the waste will still be toxic 1 million years from now. Most of the waste at Vermont Yankee is in a water-filled pool seven stories above ground.

If the water leaks out of the pool, the waste will catch fire, leak radioactivity into the atmosphere, and kill thousands of people, according to a report to Congress by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

“We think this is a terrible idea,” Michael Mariotte, president and former executive director of the Nuclear Information and Resource Service, told me about Entergy’s plan to end the emergency alert system 16 months after Vermont Yankee closes.

Among the groups fighting Entergy’s plan is the Citizens Awareness Network. The organization needs our support.

If these groups lose this fight, we must ask our members of Congress to have the federal government maintain this system.

If that effort is unsuccessful, we must lobby Gov. Peter Shumlin and our state legislators to have the state pay.

As a last resort, the towns will have to pay to continue the emergency alert system for people in Brattleboro and the other towns within 10 miles of Vermont Yankee.

Eesha Williams


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