Editor of the Reformer:
Under pressure from Ray Shadis of the New England Coalition on Nuclear Pollution at a recent public meeting, Entergy Vermont Yankee admitted to discovering new cracks in a cooling water pipe on June 17. With overwhelming engineering accuracy, plant spokesman Larry Smith stated the cracks were "12 to 15 inches long and leaking about 10 gallons per minute." He went on to say "this is not an issue." I could not disagree more.
Cracks, breakdowns and glitches in an aging piece of machinery only become more frequent and severe with time. Ten gallons per minute in a pipe that carries 90,000 gallons per minute may not be significant, but thousands of gallons of contaminated water leaking into the groundwater and collapsed cooling towers are. Wood rots, metal becomes more brittle and concrete crumbles with time. How long before there is a crack in something more critical to our safety, like the containment vessel?
After this weeks minor earthquake which ENVY categorized as an "unusual event," the spin doctors stated "there was no evidence of damage to the plant." The key word in that statement is evidence. If a broken pipe is underground and you canít see it (assuming you know where to look), thereís no evident damage.
When I spoke several years ago at an Atomic Safety Licensing Board public hearing, I was against the uprate but felt the plant could be operated until the scheduled closing date in 2012. Since then, the plant has been run at 20 percent over the original design capacity and has endured numerous malfunctions.
I was a student at BUHS when the debate over opening the plant took place and Larry Smith was the trusted voice of local news on WTSA. Though we had never heard of Three mile island or Chernobyl, we understood there would be risks involved, but we never believed there would be a debate about closing the plant. There is nothing they can do or say to restore this Vermonterís trust. It is time to close Vermont Yankee.
Guilford, June 27