Thursday, July 31, 2008

Walk for a Nuclear-Free Future

Dear God,

Several meandering activists will soon march for days, all the while referring to themselves as "throngs." From Hiroshima Day (August 6) to Nagasaki Day (August 9), the volatile stand-off (now in its 13,140th day) between the nuclear industry and people in support hose will continue.

In Bennington, Rutland, Barre-Montpelier, and Burlington, they'll be thinking about how to stop our 20-year license extension. Or that's what the notice on iBrattleboro says.

Well, you've got to admire their staying power.

I'm going to lay low on this event, Lord. No press release from me, and no response from me to any media questions, because the last thing I want to be seen as is cavalier about nuclear disaster.

Gotcher back, Lord. Hope you got mine.


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Catsup is a Vegetable

Dear Lord,

One of those statements is true, Lord, and I'm going to find out which one it is. Anybody who doesn't think I'm smart enough to handle the job is misunderestimating.

Strengthen me, Lord. The activists are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.

Catsup is a vegetable,


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Paris Hilton Turned Away from NRC Inspections

Dear Lord,

Yes! It's true! The NRC inspections of the Vermont Yankee cooling towers have become such a hot-ticket item that bouncer Stephen Wark, also a Department of Public Service spokesman, had to turn away celebrity Paris Hilton at the big, steel and concrete door.

"The joint is just too hoppin', honey," he explained. Then, licking his lips, he added, "And frankly, you seem too biased on the topic of nuclear energy to be of much help."

Reporters at the scene heard a loud, disappointed groan emerge from inside the plant when the NRC inspectors realized they wouldn't be getting her help. When last seen, a miffed, mini-skirted Paris Hilton and a modestly-dressed and deeply sympathetic Jimmy Carter (on hand to monitor any shenanigans at the scene) joined arms and left the area of the plant, as Paris said, to solidify their credentials and pet her little dog.

Meanwhile, superstar reporter Laughing Mama has alleged a mind-exploding story about an encounter at the ASLB hearing in Newfane with bouncer/DPS attorney Tony Roisman. I'd paraphrase it here, but I couldn't do it justice. Really, Lord, I encourage you to follow the link. Read the comment she says Roisman made about the "right people" for the oversight panel. Then weep. Then call Jimmy Carter, and maybe Peter Shumlin and Gaye Symington.



Monday, July 21, 2008

Leaves of Grass

Dearest Lord,

Remember when you were younger—like, maybe, in your late teens or early 20's—and you'd go to a picnic and maybe eat the wrong brownie like you usually did and all of a sudden you'd realize that the universe is in your thumbnail? And you'd say, like, "Whoa!" and then your friend would go, like, "Whoa!" and then his friend would go, like "Whoa!" and then everyone would be happy and impressed?

Well, imagine how I felt recently when, after having a snack with a dude here in the control room, I realized that, not only is the universe in my living skin cells, it's expanding!

Whoa! No lie, God! Look here! (And click the picture for a bigger view.)

Now, I'm not sure really, God, why I've mentioned this other than I am just so taken by the idea of dark matter and my thumb. Looking at my very own opposable, I am wowed by the trippy insinuations that physics and metaphysics routinely make into my very own life. I mean, really, there's, like, "nuclear" (the universe) and "nuclear" (the job). And then there's, like, "dark" (the sky) and "dark" (the job). And then there's "dark energy" which, when you think about it, is about my job and, indeed, my thumb, because I have to deal with everyone's dark energy and negativity all day long. I just hitch a ride.

Talk about dark energy, man! Did you get a load of that stuff that's hitting the fan around here about the Department of Public Service not letting any of the three members of the Public Oversight Panel accompany representatives of the NRC as they try to figure out what the hey is up with our cooling towers? It's like "'Comprehensive Vertical Audit' Meets 'Vertical Slice Audit' Wars" out there! Duck, Lord! Cause the game is really going to ramp up and those little yellow blobs with teeth are going to start eating all of the dots on the board, including, like, you and even me if we're not careful!

Maybe if everyone would agree to stop using the word "audit" things would calm down. "Vertical" should probably go, too. 'Cause it's confusing, you know? Like, how am I, when talking to the press, supposed to even keep CVA and VSA straight in my head? And, you know, if I hear the words "solid credentials" one more time this week, I'll go, like, "Sick!" and then my friend in the control room will go, like, "Sick!" and then that woman who failed the alcohol test here will go, like, "Sick!" and then we'll all be happy and impressed. Or not.

Did you know, Lord, that objects in the mirror are closer than they appear?

Anyway, the universe is in my thumbnail, Lord. It's in David O'Brien's thumbnail, too, and probably in Arnie Gundersen's, Peter Bradford's, and whoever that third guy on the Public Oversight Panel is. Oh, right. Lawrence Hochreiter. But David O'Brien I do remember, easily, cause he's the head of the Department of Public Service, and that means he's our really good friend. He, I'm thinking, is the guy on our side who is trying to stop the two vertical audits from colliding. Because collisions are really scary, and his job specifically seems to be stopping scary stuff--dark energy stuff, if you know what I mean--from happening. Because dark energy can mean bad news and bad news cycles. I mean, what if the Public Oversight Panel's Comprehensive Vertical Audit finds a problem that the NRC's Vertical Slice Audit doesn't find--and what if the discrepancy happens while the two sets of auditors are looking at the very same square inch of God knows what? Now really, who would that serve? Exactly. And what kind of news cycle would that create? Exactly. And how loudly would my phone start ringing then? Right again. Objects in the mirror, and all that....

My phone is ringing.

... Pools of sorrow, waves of joy are drifting through my open mind,
Possessing and caressing me.
Jai guru de va om
Nothing's gonna change my world,
Nothing's gonna change my world

Peace to the NRC, Lord. Peace to me. Peace to the DPS. Peace to the Public Oversight Panel, even. Really, to all three of 'em. God bless 'em. Peace to you, too, God. And love. And leaves of grass.

And hey, Lord. Did you hear that, at Indian Point, the third guard since March just tested positive for cocaine?

It's all good,

Fake-Rob xxoo

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Kind of Fun News Quiz Redux!

Dear Lord,

Well, it's been a slow summer, what with only a few leaks and no actual melt-downs and. I thought I'd use this news cycle to put out once again one of my incredibly popular….


Question 1: Which of the following Massachussets towns did not pass a resolution opposing the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant's bid to extend its license for 20 years beyond its 2012 expiration date?
  • Leverett
  • Montague
  • Charlemont
  • Bhopal

Answer: Bhopal, because it's not in Massachussets.

Question 2: Which of the following news stories thankfully got too little play in recent months:

Answer: "Tornado Just Misses Nuclear Power Plant," because it happened in 2002.

Question 3: Which corporation is the creepiest?
  • Union Carbide (Bhopal disaster)
  • Exxon (Valdez disaster)
  • Johnson & Johnson (Tylenol tampering)
  • Firestone (exploding tires resulting in deaths)
  • Entergy (for Vermont Yankee's ongoing safety and maintenance problems and for the waffling about the decommissioning fund)

Answer: Probably Union Carbide, whose blunder killed thousands on the spot and poisoned the land and water for years to come. It's the kind of situation that could only be surpassed by a catastrophe at a nuclear power plant. Johnson & Johnson, on the other hand, is a clear loser in this category because the company at least expressed concern for its customers and made quick decisions to save lives. And in this category, Entergy isn't even a contender. No one has died—yet—and the environmental destruction Entergy has visited on Vermont isn't really visible. And, anyway, Entergy evidently doesn't own the plant, so why does everyone keep picking on us?

Question 4: At whose name do more people recoil?
  • J. Wayne Leonard's, because the company he heads has made an art form of creating corporate shells that protect executives' personal paychecks at the expense of corporate responsibility. Witness the new confusion about whether Entergy or Entergy Nuclear owns (and is financially liable for the blunders and decommissioning funds of) Vermont Yankee. Witness also that Entergy paid J. Wayne Leonard handsomely the very same year that Entergy New Orleans (subtle name change; big difference in terms of corporate shell and liability) qualified for huge federally-funded, post-Katrina bailouts. In fact, according to, "Entergy’s Board of Directors awarded the equivalent of nearly 35% of the entire federal bailout for Entergy New Orleans as compensation packages for only five employees over this two-year period."
  • J. Wayne Leonard's, because the company he heads has given false assurances of the sort that could have fatal consequences to the people of Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachussets.

Answer: Right again, Lord.

Oops, Lord. This just in: The Department of Public Service has "declined to let members of a panel created by the Legislature to do a special audit of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant join an inspection of the plant set for Monday." That's from the Reformer. Gotta go.



Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Nobody Tells Me Anything!

Hey, Lord,

Did you know that Entergy is hoping to hire an Equipment Reliability Coordinator? Could this have possibly happened at a better time? What with equipment failing to the right of me, equipment failing to the left of me, it seems that we do need more hands on deck.

But here's the mystery, Lord. Look at this sentence in the employment ad:

Entergy Corporation, a Fortune 500 company, is an integrated energy company engaged primarily in electric power production and retail distribution operations. We own and operate power plants, and are the second-largest nuclear generator in the United States. This position will be located at our Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant in Vernon, VT.

And look here, Lord. For the "Supervisor, Control Room" job posted at, the ad says:

Entergy Corporation, a Fortune 500 company, is an integrated energy company engaged primarily in electric power production and retail distribution operations. We own and operate power plants, and are the second-largest nuclear generator in the United States. This position will be located at our Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant in Vernon, VT.

and for the "Senior Engineer, Nuclear" job posted at, the ad says:

Entergy Corporation, a Fortune 500 company, is an integrated energy company engaged primarily in electric power production and retail distribution operations. We own and operate power plants, and are the second-largest nuclear generator in the United States. This position will be located at our Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant in Vernon, VT.

Odd, huh? I thought that the "message" we are all supposed to "be on" at Vermont Yankee is that Entergy Corporation, a Fortune 500 company, doesn't own Vermont Yankee. The relatively asset-free Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee does.

Nobody tells me anything!


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Ethics 101

Dear God!

I've encountered some troubling news.

No, I'm not talking about the reduced power output at Vermont Yankee, or the fact that pipes serving the cooling towers have sprung a leak or two, or that the fiberglass supports with which we replaced timber supports have not actually provided support.

No, I'm not talking about the fact that Stephen Wark of the Department of Public Service is finally disappointed with us. (Took him a while, don't you think?)

No, I'm not talking about the fact that the plant is now swarming with NRC inspectors, because, frankly, the NRC inspectors have never been a problem before.

I'm talking about this thing I learned casually reading the New York Times just the other day, and it is this:

Addiction cannot be satisfied by its object.

Really! Sounds terribly ominous, doesn't it? But that's what some high-priced psychoanalyst said. And he makes $600/hour, so that fellow should know.

Well, hell's bells, Lord. I mean, if you took that axiom through a few permutations, it would suggest that people addicted to cheap energy should take stock of their lives and figure out how to use less energy—if the "price" they would have to pay to satisfy their addiction meant saddling themselves, their friends, and their families with the risk of safety-related components failing catastrophically in this aging nuclear plant. (Lord knows the non-critical components haven't been holding up too well.)

It would mean that people addicted to cheap energy should consider the long-term consequences of letting a company with clear contempt for them befoul their water and their air--and befoul their land, in perpetuity. It would mean they should stop believing promises about corporate responsibility, especially when those promises prove to be no more substantive than cotton candy--and ESPECIALLY when the corporation making the promises turns out to deny having owned the plant about which the promises were made.

It would mean that they should see news stories like July 7th's, "Decades Later, Toxic Sludge Torments Bhopal," and quake in their boots, realizing that large corporations with no meaningful ties to a community skip out on clean-up responsibilities again and again. Exxon's behavior regarding the Valdez oil spill should be for them another cautionary tale.

And that would be bad for me, my salary, my daily lunch in the cafeteria, and my health benefits—which I may need considering how well I am irradiated.

Actually, Lord, there is another piece of news that's got me upset. Apparently, there is a code of ethics for PR people. The Green Mountain Daily has a great story on it.

Furthermore, that code implies that lying by omission is a "sin" if you will. So that's got me worried. Lord, will it be a problem with you if, as I continue to release news about problems at our plant, I omit making the obvious connections to what is happening here and what happened in Bhopal and Alaska? Or are ethics not really that important, sin-wise? Because, frankly, shutting up about all of the clear inferences to be made would be my preference.

Thanks again!


Saturday, July 12, 2008

Oy Vey!

Dear Lord,

If ever I needed to pray, the time is now. Just as the Department of Public Service, the NRC, and the Legislator are set to give me the old upper-down vote, the distribution piping in one of our cooling towers has sprung a significant leak.

"During routine daily inspection rounds this morning Vermont Yankee auxiliary operators identified a 60 to 100 gallons per minute leak in the 90,000 gallons per minute flow system pipe carrying cooling water in the east cooling tower," is what Brian Cosgrove, Vermont Yankee's manager for governmental affairs, explained y memo to Vermont's congressional delegation.

Plant output has been reduced to around 50%. And the problems don't end there. Saddle supports for both the east and west towers are sagging.

Stephen Wark of the Department of Public Service is disappointed. Well, duh. Stay tuned, Lord. Some REAL prayers are to come.