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The Commons
Voices / Letters from readers

Being able to move a meter needle does not equal dangerous

Originally published in The Commons issue #418 (Wednesday, July 26, 2017).



RE: “Decommissioning nuclear power plants still demands public scrutiny” [Letters, Jul. 19]:

The headline is right, the letter is wrong.

If the Vermont Yankee buildings were there for a fossil-fuel plant, demolishing them would require industrial safety measures, which would be overseen by demolition experts, not the plant operational staff.

It will be that way for the nuclear plant, too. As shown by NorthStar, large-building and industrial-facility removal has evolved as a speciality, with the special hazards of each type of plant — chemical, petroleum, radioactive, etc. — planned for.

The radioactive “hazard” is much, much less than if the plant were operating, and that risk decreases every minute. To be radioactive means “going away to nothing.”

Comparing VY’s used fuel to the weapons production waste at Hanford is a scare tactic. The fuel is solid ceramic, double-encased, shielded, air-cooled by natural circulation, and continuously monitored. The chances of it affecting the river or aquifer are zero — unless a science-fiction type of terrorist attack is supposed. The fuel’s radioactivity is decreasing, too.

Nuclear waste can be hazardous or not, depending on the elements in it, how much is gathered together, and how old it is. The granite in our mountains contains uranium, and the radioactivity can be measured. Being able to move a meter needle does not equal dangerous.

The public has a right to know, but the New England Coalition never gives any numbers for comparison.

Howard Shaffer


Enfield, N.H.

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