Beyond Nuclear Bulletin
February 26, 2010
Vermont Vote Signals Nuclear Retreat and Sets Precedent for Other States' Action
Background: In a roll call the Vermont State Senate voted 26 to 4 to block federal relicensing of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant operated by its parent company Entergy Nuclear. The vote is an overwhelming statement of "no confidence" in both the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) 20-year relicensing process and the continued operation of nuclear power in Vermont beyond the reactor's current 40-year license which expires on March 12, 2012. Beyond Nuclear hailed the state vote to shutter the aging reactor as a victory for local democracy and a beacon for other states to assert more control over radioactive trespasses by the nuclear industry.
Our View: Vermont is now at the forefront of a fight to rein in an undemocratic technology and a promotionally biased licensing process. The vote is precedent setting. Vermont has said it is not in the best interest of a state to allow nuclear plants to operate without a waste disposal plan, with insufficient radioactive cleanup funds and shielded by shell corporations hiding behind limited liability firewalls. The vote offers an example for companion initiatives in other states.
The examples of the undemocratic impositions thrust upon states and community hosts by nuclear power technology are many. One particularly egregious affront is extending operating the nuclear reactor licenses and nuclear waste generation without any scientifically approved long-term environmental management plan and the repeated denial by the NRC to allow public hearings on the issue in its new licensing and relicensing process. Reactor sites like Vermont Yankee are de facto indefinite nuclear waste storage facilities at best and possibly permanent radioactive dumps that were never environmentally qualified as such for either an original 40-year license or 20-year license renewal proceedings. Vermonters voted "no confidence" in the Entergy Nuclear effort to spin off continued operational costs and ultimately its decommissioning commitment for atomic cleanup and site deconstruction to a shell corporation (Enexus) where industry is establishing Limited Liability Corporations as a common business practice with the consolidation of more reactors into fewer parent nuclear corporations. Similarly, the vote shows "no confidence" in the NRC and throws a legal blockade in front of a federal relicensing proceeding. The NRC sees no nexus between the uncontrolled and still undiscovered radioactive leaks at Vermont Yankee and the public's health and safety. The NRC relicensing process has failed to capture or address the aging buried pipes now leaking.
What You Can Do: Celebrate and hold up the banner of Vermont's democracy in action. Contact Beyond Nuclear on how you can educate your community and your state representatives and start work on similar initiatives. Additional examples of the nuclear industry retreat from its much touted "renaissance" can be viewed on the Beyond Nuclear website at http://www.beyondnuclear.org/ the-nuclear-retreat/
Kazakhstan and Niger: nuclear power is the antithesis of energy independence
Background: On the heels of President Obama's announcement to increase the United States' reliance nuclear energy as part of his plan for a energy independence, the Washington Post published its story on the growing political instability mushrooming in Kazakhstan, one of the world's largest known uranium reserves, where the United States, China, Russia, Japan and Canada are among those jockeying for control of this valued and dangerous uranium ore.
Meanwhile, the February 18, 2010 military coup in the sub-Saharan nation of Niger raises as many questions as answers about the African country's future. While uranium mining makes up the bulk of Niger's foreign income, 80% of its population lives on subsistence farming with 60% below the poverty level amidst recurring famines. Coup leaders have made a pledge to bring democracy to the resource rich but impoverished country. However, international intrigue and conflicts continues to brew here as the French monopoly of uranium mining is being challenged by China.
Our View: Nuclear power is the antithesis of "energy independence" as claimed by the industry. The emerging conflicts in Kazakhstan and Niger illuminate how continued and expanded reliance on uranium power comes at the expense of future resource conflicts, human domination and environmental predation and injustice. In fact, the keys to real energy independence are found in substantially expanding energy efficiency, conservation and expanded renewable energy programs.