Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Troubling End of Year Thoughts

Dear God,

If you read "the newspapers," as Sarah Palin does nearly every day, no doubt you have learned that the United States intelligence community was warned well before Christmas that "a Nigerian" was preparing for a terrorist attack. But the intelligence community did not act on the information received. The result of someone's (or a few people's) decision to "bury" the reported danger was almost catastrophic, and apparently there will be hell to pay when President O'Bama lives up to his promise to hold people accountable.

Perhaps there is a parallel to be drawn between that example of woefully poor decision making and a decision that must be made here in Vermont in 2010.

Entergy Corp. has recently announced that it plans to ask Entergy Louisiana customers to cover a $45 million shortfall in the fund that will pay for the eventual shutdown of the Waterford 3 nuclear plant in Taft, Louisiana.

Vermont Yankee's decommissioning fund has an even bigger shortfall than that of Waterford 3. What do you think, Lord?

  1. When the Vermont legislature assesses the potential economic impact on Vermonters of renewing Vermont Yankee's license in 2012, will they take into account this intelligence about Entergy sticking Louisiana ratepayers with a bill they never anticipated having to pay?
  2. How could anyone imagine that the economic benefit to Vermonters of renewing Vermont Yankee's license could outweigh the economic liability, given that the shortfall in Vermont Yankee's decommissioning fund is not $45 million but nearly half of a billion?
  3. Will there be "hell to pay" for Vermont legislators who turn a blind eye to what is happening right now in Louisiana?

Your speedy answer will be much appreciated, God, by me and by our legislators. And, if you wouldn't mind, could you be speediest about answering question #2? The "how could anyone imagine" part is my biggest concern. It's going to be my job as PR guy to get our legislators to imagine precisely along those lines.

Amen, Lord, and I hope you're keeping warm this week.


Monday, December 21, 2009

There Ain't No Sanity Claus

Dear God,

Friday we made the state of Vermont a gentleman's offer. We will raise the price of electricity from 4.2 cents per kilowatt-hour to 6.1 cents. Over the next 20-year period we will raise that price annually by a specified index. That price is well below what consultants on our payroll have projected as the future of energy prices. That price is also above the current price of power. We will discontinue sharing revenue with Vermont utilities. Over the past forty years, revenue sharing has allowed the utilities to provide very inexpensive power to Vermont homes and businesses, but to everything there is a season, turn, turn, turn. The price we have offered will only apply to 115 megawatts per year. The offer we've made makes no mention of the nearly half a billion dollar shortfall in the decommissioning fund. And the offer we've made wasn't even made by us. It was made by Enexus, the finances and structure of which are "mired in gobbledygook."

We ask only that the state of Vermont approve the spinoff of Vermont Yankee into Enexus, and that it offer Enexus a 20-year license renewal for Vermont Yankee, thereby allowing the health, safety, environmental, and financial shenanigans will continue.

To sweeten the deal, we will even remove the horse's head from Pete Shumlin's bed.

You tell me, God. How do you think the legislators will respond?



Tuesday, December 1, 2009

These Are a Few of My Awful-est Things

Dear God,

Tee-hee. I ate A LOT of turkey on Thursday, and the tryptophan has yet to wear off. So I've had some difficulties writing coherently about some of the recent goings-on in the nuclear industry.

And so, as I often have when pressed with the need to feed the public's appetite for reliable facts that they can assess, I will instead present you and, of course, the public with a distraction. Here's this week's amusement. Let's call it ...

a/k/a Raindrops on Roses and Whiskers on Kittens

1. On November 27, 2009, what awful thing happened in the pants of a security officer at the Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Plant in Ohio?

(A) Someone put a banana in them.

(B) His Huggies® leaked. (Hey, it happened to me once.)

(C) On November 27, 2009, at approximately 0734 hours, an accidental discharge of a security officer's sidearm occurred at the Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station (DBNPS) resulting in a leg injury to the officer. The accidental discharge occurred in the Primary Access Facility. The onsite DBNPS first aid team and the Caroll Township Emergency Medical Services responded to the Primary Access Facility. The injured officer was in stable condition and transported off site [at 0800] to St. Vincent Hospital [in Toledo, OH].

"Both the Ottawa County Sheriffs Office and the Caroll Township Police Department responded to the DBNPS site to obtain information.

"The Ottawa County Emergency Management Agency (EMA), the Lucas County EMA, and the Ohio EMA were notified of this incident. The NRC Resident Inspector has been notified.

"Plant operation was not affected by this incident. [The plant has received calls from the media however,] no press release is planned at this time."

2. What awful thing happened in—oh, say—India recently?

(A) Tritium, a heavy radioactive substance, was found in the drinking water of a nuclear reactor building in Kamataka. Sixty-five workers drank the water. The incident only came to light when their urine samples were tested.

(B) Union Carbide offered to build another pesticide plant.

3. What awful thing happened in Canada this week?

(A) General Electric attempted to shield its finances from the risks of accident at nuclear plants. The Globe and Mail says:

"One of the world's largest nuclear plant suppliers has ordered its Canadian division to hermetically seal itself off from its U.S. parent, going so far as to forbid engineers at the U.S. wing from having anything to do with Canadian reactors.

"The move by GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy is spurred by concerns about liability – if an accident at a Canadian plant spreads damage across the border, Americans might be able to sue the parent company. The result is a Canadian company cut off from the technical advances of its parent, a leading player in the industry.

"The company also won't allow any equipment built or designed by the U.S. parent to be used in Canadian reactors for the same reason."

(B) Entergy attempted to shield its finances from the risks of accident at nuclear plants. (Technically, this didn't happen in Canada. But Vermont is close enough to Canada to meet NRC specs.)

4. What awful thing happened in Vermont this month?

(A) All of the Democrats running for governor said they would like to see Vermont Yankee shut down when its license expires in 2012.

(B) There's nothing that can top that.

Answers: Follow the links to get 'em.



Monday, November 16, 2009

Everybody Take Five, and Then We'll Shoot the Tsunami Scene.

Dear God,

Pardon me if I yawn. Senate President Peter Shumlin said he'll vote against a 20-year license extension for Vermont Yankee. As if he ever would have voted for it, even now that we've added him to our Christmas dance party invitation list.

In other news, the disaster movie "2012" (the whole world goes this time) broke box office records this weekend.

It opened at No. 1 domestically with $65 million and pulled in $225 million worldwide. The people of Vermont are lining up at the Kipling Cinema! Why, then, are the people of Vermont reluctant to re-license Vermont Yankee? We have a disaster movie waiting to happen here! Even in the midst of a recession, we could all get work as extras!

And then, in really other news, Carrie Prejean lost about a million dollars in her settlement negotiations with Miss California USA after her undisclosed sex tape fell into the pageant's hands. Well, I have an obscene tape here that stands to lose us a whole lot more than a million.

Just ask Pete Shumlin.



Monday, November 9, 2009

Flies Fly In, Flies Fly Out

Dear God,

I'm thinking maybe it's time for Entergy to pony up for a full, paying subscription for me with the Wall Street Journal Online.

Look what I found there today (posted, actually on November 3):

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. (Dow Jones)--Entergy Corp. (ETR) remains committed to spinning off five of its nuclear power plants into a stand-alone company, but the company's chief executive suggested a possible alternative Tuesday if it can't win regulatory approval in New York.

Entergy Chairman and Chief Executive J. Wayne Leonard said the company could spin off its utility businesses into a stand-alone company to accomplish the same goal of separating its regulated utility businesses concentrated in the Southeast from its nuclear plants that sell ....

And that's all I know! Because to read the rest of the article, I need a paying subscription, but Entergy is so miserly about paying for anything here at Vermont Yankee, that I don't have one!

Anyway, it looks like, if Entergy can't spin Enexus off, it might spin off everything else into some phenomenally wealthy, as-yet-unnamed entity and leave the five merchant plants to a newly impoverished Entergy. I call that creative thinking! Hey, that's why we pay him the big bucks!

Ah, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!
Ah, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! (Echo, echo, echo.)

Pete Shumlin, close your mouth before the flies fly in. You shoulda seen this comin'!



Sunday, November 1, 2009

Happy Birthday to Me!

Dear God,

Hey! Nobody called to say "Happy Birthday!" to me. I've been offering up my prayers here on Are You There, God? It's Me, Fake-Rob Williams for two years plus five days now—ever since October 26, 2007.

Actually, I expected more from my co-workers. And, to be honest, they sorta kinda remembered my birthday. They spent the last few weeks drawing up lots and lots of lists about how they were going to celebrate my birthday. They identified experts to help them celebrate my birthday. They chose silly hats and assigned budgets for candles, cake, and ice cream. They devised methodologies and goals and benchmarks. They made a lot of photocopies of everything they wrote down. They even officially chose which song to sing. (As if they weren't going to sing "Happy Birthday to You" all a long. But, hey, it's important to be methodical and write all this stuff down, so they wrote it down, and got credit from the Department of Public Service for doing so.) There were, like, 80 things they promised to do!

But then my birthday whizzed by and I didn't hear a thing from anybody about it. And there was nothing … NOTHING … that I or the DPS or the state of Vermont could do about it.

Lists and promises don't count for much, I guess.

Lord, speaking of lists and promises that don't count for much, did you hear that a legislative report on our progress addressing the 80 areas of concern identified in last fall's independent assessment of Vermont Yankee's future reliability has sharply faulted us for a lack of progress?

What could those legislators possibly be talking about? Just like with my birthday plans, we're being methodical. We're making lists, identifying experts, choosing dunce hats, assigning budgets for candles, cake, and ice cream, and devising methodologies, goals, and benchmarks. Our Xerox machine is going, like, 24 hours a day! The Rutland Herald even quoted Stephen Wark of the DPS as saying that "It appears that Vermont Yankee is on track to have a plan on how to resolve the problems by the end of this year." (By which, to parse the truth out of that sentence, he means that we are on track to have a plan by the end of this year, and that plan will likely get us our certificate of public good, and then we will set out to resolve the identified problems by 2012, but if we don't solve any or all of them there won't be a hell of a lot anyone can do about it.)

So I guess this is a trust issue. The DPS must give us the certificate of public good based on our many diverse lists, and not on any actual accomplishments. Then the people of Vermont and neighboring New Hampshire and Massachusetts must hope that we'll actually do what our lists have indicated we will do. And, yes, we haven't always lived up to our promises. For example, we haven't fully funded the decommissioning fund. We also didn't make sure that the uprate didn't increase radiation exposure to the public. And until we got caught not measuring radiation emitted by the dry casks, we never measured that radiation.

But, really, Lord, we are making progress, and on more than one front. Did you see in the Reformer that we're claiming that the decommissioning fund is now only $40 million short? If we're right about that preposterously low-ball estimate, the state of Vermont has nothing to worry about. That's poker money for Entergy CEO J. Wayne Leonard! I'm sure he'd ante up in a pinch.

And what if we never get around to adequately addressing the 80 areas of concern identified in last fall's independent assessment of Vermont Yankee's future reliability? Why, we even have a plan for that! We'll finally have my birthday party! We'll buy the people of Vermont and neighboring New Hampshire and Massachusetts dunce hats and a huge sheet cake!

And I'll eat cake with them.



Tuesday, October 13, 2009

In France They Kiss On Main Street

Dear Lord,

Today and tomorrow we may witness the untimely death of the myth that France tidily recycles its nuclear waste. Apparently, Electricité de France, the world's largest producer of nuclear power, is in the unfortunate position of having to deny reports in the French newspaper Liberation that it is using open-air containers in a town in Siberia to dump its radioactive waste. According to Liberation, the town is closed to journalists. Liberation also said that only 10-20% of the waste stored in this town is recycled and sent back to EDF for use in power plants.

Bad news for the nuclear industry, eh? That's the way it's been around here lately. For example:

So, Lord, it's been a hard week or so for me, though I do try to maintain my God-given sense of humor.

Lawyer: I have some good news and some bad news.
Client: Well, give me the bad news first.
Lawyer: The bad news is that the DNA tests showed that it was your blood they found all over the crime scene
Client: Oh no! I'm ruined! What's the good news?
Lawyer: Your doctor saw the test results. Your cholesterol is down.

We do have good news. It is this:

  • Governor Jim Douglas doesn't care a hoot about whether Vermonters get a good price for energy from Entergy.

Life is still beautiful. Kiss me!



Sunday, September 27, 2009

Mafia Applies to NRC for 20-Year Renewal of License to Sink Boats Containing Radioactive Waste

Dear, God!

Remember that I prayed about the Mafia maybe "disappearing" ships containing nuclear waste? Well, that idea has legs! Or, anyway, it has fins.

Apparently, radioactive waste disposal is a lucrative business. An informant for the Calabrian Mafia says that he has deliberately blown up three ships containing toxic waste—and that 30 such vessels have been scuttled by the Mafia. The sunken ship that is currently being searched for toxic materials is said to have 120 barrels of radioactive waste on board.

Most interesting: The Calabrian city prosector told reporters, "For the moment, we do not know the origin of the waste, but it is probably from abroad." That does not implicate Vermont Yankee directly. After all, we found the 3 fuel rods we lost in 2004. And we account for all of our waste and, in fact, store it right here, legally, next to the Connecticut River, in an earthquake zone, right above the flood plain, and unprotected by attack from an airplane. We don't need no stinking Mafia.

That said, the AFP reports that, according to the vice president of the environmental group Legambiente, the Mafia has sunk ships with radioactive material for the last 20 years.

Which means their licensing period is up, and if they want to continue to dispose of waste from the United States, they'll have to apply for renewal of the NRC's coveted License to Irresponsibly Dispose of Products That Could Ruin the World. But I hear they have connections everywhere, so approval should be no problem.



Wednesday, September 16, 2009

When "Disappear" Is a Verb

Dear God,

Ahem. Well, this new twist on the nuclear waste issue may not go well for Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee. Anyway, it seems that there is a high index of suspicion that the Mafia may have blown up one or more ships with nuclear waste that someone wanted to "disappear." What you see here is the image of a toxic barrel on a suspected Mafia shipwreck. It was taken by an underwater robot camera.

Italy, though! Not America! Phew.

Still, I'm going to lunch. And then dinner. I may just disappear for a while.



Monday, September 14, 2009

And the Answer Is ....

Dear God,

The answer is "Wackenhut." In addition to creating security lapses at the embassy and urinating on each other and dancing around in G-strings in a Muslim country, Wackenhut guards let a truck carrying a pipe bomb onto the grounds of America's largest nuclear power plant, lost track of several guns, fell asleep en masse while on duty at Peach Bottom (and disciplined the one guard who reported them to the NRC). Another guard fell asleep at Three Mile Island. In 2007 four Wackenhut guards were convicted of the rape and murder of a college student working at a motel near their work site. In 2008 Vermont Yankee was cited by the NRC for unspecified security violations that would have fallen under Wackenhut's aegis. Wackenhut guards have been implicated in rape and torture in several states, where they work in prisons.

Rumor has it that VY is terminating their association with Wackenhut. Which would only be a good thing.



Saturday, September 12, 2009

I've Got a Secret

Dear God,

The Brattleboro Reformer finally ran an article that I've long worried they'd run. It was about J. Wayne Leonard's compensation as CEO of Entergy. The article kicked up a stir, but it did not touch on some of the finer points of his compensation package, which is good. For example, it did not say that roughly 9.7% of the Katrina disaster relief funds that Entergy applied for and received went into J. Wayne Leonard's very own, private pocket, a nuance that I prayed about in March in The Wonderful World of Leonard and a whole year before that in No J. Wayne Leonard News Today. Thank you, Lord, for imbuing the Reformer with discretion.

And, golly, Lord! Thank you also for the fact that no one in our local media has yet made the connection between Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee and "a pattern of blatant and longstanding violations” at the American Embassy in Kabul. Oh, Lord, I just love secrets, don't you? I especially like them when they involve phrases like a "Lord of the Flies environment,” and "climate of fear and coercion!" It gets me so excited that, on days like today when I've got a secret that no one has guessed, I have to wear Huggie Pull-Ups® to work, and then wrap the arms of my suit jacket around my waist and dangle the torso of my jacket over my butt, all so people don't wonder know I'm wearing big-boy diapers.

I've got a secret, I've got a secret, I've got a secret. Oops. Heh. Gotta go.



Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Supervisor Tested Positive for Alcohol

Dear God,

Man walks into a bar. Bartender says, "Say, I can't serve you! Aren't you supposed to be stone-cold sober for your shift at Vermont Yankee, where you will supervise other employees and help them make the good decisions that might keep the people of Vermont and neighboring New Hampshire and Massachusetts safe in spite of the ever-present dangers presented by the plant?"

Man says, "Not that I'm aware of."

Good joke, huh?



Saturday, August 22, 2009

Giant Plant Eats Rodents

Dear God,

After all my years of service, it's turned on me! It's trying to eat me!!!!!!!

Oops. Sorry. Wrong plant. Wrong rodent.



Thursday, August 20, 2009

NRC Initiates "Cash for Clunkers" Program

Dear God,

With the U.S. government ending its popular "cash for clunkers" program on Monday, two months early, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has stepped into the breach and started its own version of the popular program.

The NRC has offered to allow Entergy Vermont Yankee to pay only $51 million of an approximately $500 million obligation to handle in full the costs of decommissioning Vermont Yankee—all in an attempt to keep the current nuclear power clunker in Vernon, VT running, despite the fact that its condensor is so old that it's lucky to withstand gravity.

Unfortunately, as opposed to the Cash for Clunkers program that has proven to be such a boon to the car industry as well as to American citizens with cars too old to be safely driven, the financial burden for the new NRC program will not be absorbed by the Federal government. Rather, it will fall to the people of Vermont. As noted by nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen, the Chair of the Comprehensive Vertical Audit and member of the legislature's oversight panel…

  • The formula that the NRC uses to calculate the amount of funds licensees must escrow for cleanup is simplistic and will underestimate the funds necessary to actually decommission the units. For example, the NRC calculates the decommissioning cost for VY to be approximately $500,000,000 while VY's own analysis places the cost at approximately $1,000,000,000. That significant difference leaves ratepayers or taxpayers saddled with an enormous burden after the plant is shutdown.

  • Assuring that only the "minimum decommissioning costs" are escrowed ignores the historical fact that the there have been significant cost overages, including a half a billion dollar shortfall at Connecticut Yankee (CY). Focusing on the "minimum" cost defers the true cost over to generations of citizens who did not use the power generated by the plant but are trapped with the cost after the plant is shutdown. The $480 Million shortfall by CY was unfairly borne by Connecticut's ratepayers after significant electrical generation profits were paid to the corporation and its stockholders.

  • While some of the NRC licensees are corporations with assets beyond the nuclear plant, some are Limited Liability Corporations (LLC's) with no assets beyond the licensee's single power plant. When one of these so-called "merchant" plants that are LLC's face a decommissioning shortfall, there are no other assets to pay for the true decommissioning cost of the facility. Vermont Yankee currently faces a $500 Million shortfall above the NRC formula. Entergy continues to attempt to shield VY behind a LLC so that there appears to be no way for these costs to be recovered from the LLC. As the NRC approved plan stands now, these additional $500 Million in costs will ultimately be borne by the citizens of the State of Vermont up to sixty years after the plant stops generating electricity.

  • By ignoring such major concerns in its proposed regulations the NRC policy is analogous to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. It seems to me that the NRC has made only minor adjustments to its proposed regulations as discussed today. I believe that in the long term, these minor changes to the current regulations will be detrimental to the public as it is the residents of each state that will ultimately be forced to absorb additional decommissioning costs for years after final shutdown. The goal of Decommissioning funding should be that those people who use the power from the nuclear plant will pay to clean it up. The existing NRC system, even as discussed in today's meeting, will continue to kick the can down the road, so to speak, so that these costs will be a huge burden upon future generations.

If Arnie doesn't quiet down, this could be very bad for us, God. So … how should I spin all of this to the people, considering that Arnie has yet to ever silence himself, even for a moment? Try to distract them? Hey! That might work--if only the condenser would spring another leak. Or a cooling tower would collapse. Or something would, I don't know, catch fire. Because people don't like to obsess about money, Lord. Fires, earthquakes. That's what we need this week. Excitement!

Just praying….



It's Over

Dear God,

It is our obligation to ensure that the Yankee decommissioning fund is sufficient such that it meets NRC regulations. The NRC’s regulation of the decommissioning funding is effective and we are providing the necessary information such that they have a clear view of the status of decommissioning funding at Yankee.

After which I will send the NRC a thank-you note for low-balling their estimate (by as much as half a billion dollars) such that we have gotten off the hook easily. Then I will take a correspondence course in English such that I stop sounding like a robot.



Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Heavens to Betsy

Dear Lord,

Ewww. Now this Jesus creep won't leave me alone.

Ever since a few of us danced with him last year at the Christmas party, he's been complaining that we Vermont Yankee folk behave as though mortally endangering the people of Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts is our God-given right.

So I put that dude in his place, I did, yessiree. I said to him, "Well, Jesus, Mr. Know-it-All, lording about as if you were the son of God or something, if you knew anything about Vermont politics and corporate and federal law you'd also know that it just might be our right to mortally endanger all of those people."

And then he sent me a e-card, signing it with a blinking, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.
Try JibJab Sendables® eCards today!

By this disturbing little gesture I suppose he was trying to remind me that Vermont Yankee's storing of spent radioactive fuel outside, near the river on an open concrete slab, is a bad idea, given that Vermont is an earthquake zone.

Well I know that, and I'd email him a "Nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah. So's your mother, Manifest Destiny, blah-blah," but somehow he magically erased his address from his message.

Perhaps my assertion of God-given right was a bit over the line, taste-wise. But what I think really torqued his temper was the one-two(-three) punch we've just gotten in the news. Context, of course, is everything. Please remember that last year we were discovered to have exceeded allowable fenceline radiation doses—that is, unless you imaginatively recalculate those doses. Ok. Punch One: To take some of the heat of the "fenceline fanatics" off of us, we're trying to move our fenceline farther away from the nuclear power plant (but, unforntuately, way closer to the nearby elementary school). Punch Two: The Department of Health has not yet released the 2008 radiation surveillance report. And Punch Three: It turns out that we are nearly a year behind in conducting additional radiation monitoring as mandated by the state!

Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. Ha, ha, ha, haha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. He, he, he, he. Howl.

Hmmm. I guess you had to be there--in the control room--when The Stoners and I learned about that. We sparked up and told some great kids-with-cancer jokes.


Little Johnny wakes up on Christmas morning, runs downstairs and is greeted by his parents and hundreds of presents under the tree.

"Oh Wow!" cries Little Johnny as he starts tearing away at all the wrapping paper. Little Johnny is so excited as he opens the presents. He has a brand new BMX, a skateboard, a playstation, a brand new PC, a scooter, a climbing frame - everything a little boy would want.

When he finishes opening all the presents, Little Johnny asks his parents if he can go round to Little Timmy's house to tell him about all the wonderful presents he got.

"Of course you can Little Johnny, off you go, but be back before dinner!"

So off Little Johnny goes, and gets to Little Timmy's house.

"Oh Timmy! This is the best christmas EVER! I got a playstation, a BMX, a new computer - everything i could ever want!!"

"Oh your so lucky", replies Little Timmy, "I wish I had cancer."

… and …

Q: How many kids with cancer does it take to change a light bulb?

A: They can't. They're too weak to climb the ladder.

Laughing, Lord?

Anyway, getting the earthquake card from Jesus was a real downer. I mean, heavens to Betsy, here I am, minding my own business, knock-knock-knocking on heaven's door, and …..

Gotta go. Phone's ringing, and with luck it's not Susan Smallheer.



Saturday, July 11, 2009


Dear God,

Forgiveness is a flower that never withers, right? Right?

And forgiveness is easier to get than permission. Again, am I right?

Anyway, that second aphorism has been our corporate strategy here at Entergy Vermont Yankee, and with that in mind I'm praying that you'll come to our July 13 public meeting. It's:

VPSB HEARING MONDAY JULY 13 7PM Vernon School. Docket 7530 In Re Petition of Entergy Nuclear *Vermont Yankee*, LLC, to locate a new perimeter fence

The meeting is scheduled for July 13, 2009, at 7:00 P.M., and the school is at 381 Governor Hunt Road in Vernon.

You see, Lord, activists are pounding on their tom-toms again. That's because we at ENVY are right now trying to buy up houses near the plant so that we can push our site boundary out farther from the plant. Why do we want to do this? Because we're generating more radiation than ever before. And that's because, since approval of our "Uprate," we've been operating for the most part at 120% of capacity. We've also begun storing spent nuclear fuel outside the plant. These two factors together have pushed the radiation readings at the site boundary over the State's dose limit.

So moving the "fenceline" is a safety move on our part. We'll buy up the property, push the fenceline away from the plant and closer to the Vernon Elementary School, and therefore obtain more reasonable fenceline radiation doses. And should keep us safe from fines and other nasty items generated by regulatory agencies.

Lord knows what the radiation levels will be at the elementary school itself, or even what they are now. Doesn't matter. Radiation levels at the school are not part of the set of regulations to which we must attend--even though children are 10 times more radiosensitive than adults.

So in a way I'm fairly confident that the public meeting will go smoothly for me and all of us at ENVY. But here's where my concern about forgiveness (and permission) comes in. See, the public record shows that we were warned in April 2003 that the Uprate would push radiation to unacceptable levels at our fenceline. In response, we assured everyone that we had done careful, conservative calculations and could safely predict that it would not. Then we got permission for the Uprate. Then radiation at our fenceline exceeded acceptable levels. Now we need forgiveness.

Am I wrong in thinking that you, sir, are in the forgiveness line of business? And if I'm right, do you think you could do me a little favor and come to the Vernon meeting and forgive me and all of ENVY right there, in front of everyone?

I am filled with glee and hope at the thought of your mercy radiating down upon my sweet, anxiety-prone head--so happy, so gleeful in an attractive, child-like way, that in anticipation of said occasion I feel moved to recite a little poem that I learned when I was but a wee lad in an elementary school not too unlike the Vernon one in which many children are daily being irradiated with full NRC approval.

How doth the little crocodile
Improve his shining tail,
And pour the waters of the Nile
On every golden scale!
How cheerfully he seems to grin,
How neatly spreads his claws,
And welcomes little fishes in,
With gently smiling jaws!

--Lewis Carroll

I hope I see you at the meeting, Lord. It will be awe-inspiring if I do. Truly.



Thursday, July 9, 2009

Irradiated Cows

Dear God,

Please don't get the FDA and the whosawhatzit boys in charge of food safety involved!

Here's a note I dutifully distributed to interested parties:

On July 13 at 7 p.m., the Public Service Board will hold a public hearing at the Vernon Elementary School on Vermont Yankee’s request for relocating the outer plant property fence line to the west (toward Governor Hunt Road) of the current fence line. The new 1,500 feet of fence will clearly delineate the protective zone around the plant and clarify the calculations of public radiation dose by merging the two terms “boundary line” and “fence line” into one for dose assessments by Vermont Yankee and state and federal regulators. The land to be enclosed is in agricultural use by a neighboring farm and we expect that to continue. [Emphasis mine. But, hey, it was my announcement to begin with.]

If you recall, Lord, I explained in my June 12 prayer (you gotta read it again; come on! It's funny!) that we at Entergy Vermont Yankee want to move our fenceline so that it will be even closer to the cows that feed the school children in the elementary school across the street. An added benefit to the fenceline move is that, by giving the children and cows equal doses of illegally high radiation, we will gain immunity from civil lawsuits by parties such as the ASPCA, who might have been planning to argue that we were denying cows the pleasure of the radiation illnesses they might otherwise have shared with their little human friends.

Lawrence Auclair, the (I blissfully thought) erstwhile owner of a site called EVACUATIONPLANS.ORG, has distributed the above announcement to an impressive list of people who occasionally attend public meetings. And by distributing it, he may get a turnout this time, Lord. Which is really unfair. Because I don't think I'm alone in having thought that this Lawrence Auclair guy was long from the scene. I mean, he announced aeons ago that he was closing down his site for personal reasons.

Is no promise sacred? He made a big deal about not continuing! And I was so looking forward to his not! Now here is trying to drum up attendees at a meeting. And having a perfectly functioning, up-to-date site, to boot!

Well, Mr. Auclair, I fart in your general direction! (Oh, go on. Click that link for heaven's sake! You've been so timid lately.) And here is what my Lord and I think of your inability to keep a simple promise! --->

So, to get back to my original thought, Lord (as if I ever had one). Do you see this fenceline radiation movement thingy as a potential liability food safety-wise-y?



Friday, June 26, 2009

RIP Michael

Dear God,

It's truly sad that Michael Jackson has gone, for once he was just a little boy with real sweetness and a powerful voice. But you know, you can have all the live-in doctors that you want, but turning your face into that of a monster's, surrounding yourself with syncophants, and ignoring health problems that clearly need attention is going to catch up with you.

And so Michael Jackson has died and many, many people are beside themselves with grief. In the meanwhile, I'm feeling pretty good. Because as closely as we at Entergy Vermont Yankee match the worst things about his profile (monstrous looking, syncophant-sourrounded, and staffed and tended by people purposefully ignoring warning signs) we haven't died. In fact, we've repaired our most recent leak! So that's great news!

Deepak Chopra wrote a bit of a eulogy for Michael, and in it he said that what began for Michael as idiosyncrasy was ravaged by obsessions, paranoia, and isolation.

I think even Michael's biggest defenders would not quarrel with that. And, God, I'm happy to report that we may be monstrous looking and syncophant sourrounded etc., but we're much, much healthier than Michael. Yes, what began for us as idiosyncracy—in our case, a desire to produce cheap, clean energy and a belief that we knew how—was eventually ravaged by greed, paranoia, and isolation. But Michael had only one live-in doctor, and we've got a whole crew of maintenance guys.

In fact, I'd say we're looking pretty good right about now. Feeling good, too. Governor Douglas is still going to the mat for us. The embarrassing decommissioning fund problems we've been having have been revealed to be fairly typical of our industry. And cooling towers? Hah! Who can remember cooling towers when it's summertime and the living is easy! That and the news cycles have been grabbed by Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett-Major, and Michael Jackson.

You know what, Lord? I'm so glad that public attention has been "stolen" by entertainment industry tragedies that I'm going to take off not just the evening but the entire weekend! The whole bunch of us in PR is going to run around happy as celebrities in short skirts and no underpants. Let's hope, though, that no papparazi get a shot up our skirts. 'Cause under them are a host of condenser problems, financial concerns, political folderol, and maybe even some drug and gambling problems that we'd rather keep tucked away.

In the meanwhile, it's "Don't cry for us, Elizabeth Taylor!"



Friday, June 12, 2009

I Can See Russia from the Fenceline!

Dear God,

Actually, I can't see Russia from within our current perimeter. And that's a problem I'm working on. If Entergy Vermont Yankee and I have our way, the plant's fenceline will be within whisper distance to our neighbors to the northwestoreast, wherever Russia happens to be at the moment.

What am I going on about? I'm talking about America. American values. American ingenuity. Um. There's more than one American way to torture an innocent cat. If the fenceline dose is too high, move the fenceline!

And that's what we're going to do. Screw political correctness. And screw the elementary school across the street, while you're at it.

My Hero



Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Condenser Leaks Are the New Black

Dear God,

Just saying. We were warned by Arnie Gundersen during the uprate hearings that our condenser is so old and decrepit it's lucky to withstand gravity. So now that we've sprung another condenser leak—and the one from April of 2008 has yet to be found and fixed—we'd better make them look less like pestilence and more like a fashion choice. Here goes:


  • Indian Point gets them.

  • Davis-Besse gets them.

  • Angelina Jolie gets them.

And it's not like they're dangerous or anything. Worst thing that can happen may be that our condenser gets flooded by river water, ruined, and we close down the plant for good and stick the state of Vermont with a huge decommissioning liability.

And if we can't succeed with the "fashion choice" tactic, I'm hoping maybe we can get people to think about condenser leaks along the same lines that they're thinking about Prince's double hip replacement.

"Prince—So Hip He Needs Two New Ones."

You see, Prince, like us, is refusing to put time and money into maintenance. He just can't seem to do the necessary repairs. From Showbiz411.com:

"He’s in a lot of pain,” said a source who was backstage with him … at the Apollo. “He’s popping pain killers and hoping it will all go away."

So are we.



Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Anti-Assertiveness Training

Dear God,

I hope you haven’t missed me? I haven’t prayed in a while, I know? But it’s not arrogance that has stopped me? I actually hope that you can see that I'm feeling meek? Scared? Questioning? Brimming with polite curiosity? At least that's the attitude I'm trying to project?

That's because Entergy is catching a lot of flak for threatening to sue the state of Vermont if it asks us to top off the Decommissioning Fund?

People are also starting to catch on that Vermont Yankee did not, as we've claimed, get a "pass" from the Vermont Yankee Oversight Panel? You'll remember that it uncovered more than $100 million in deferred maintenance on components? Furthermore, according to Arnie Gundersen in an editorial in the Reformer, “Nationally, most nuclear plants replace their condensers between 20 and 30 years of operation? VY's condenser has been operating for 37 years and Entergy has known the condenser had issues prior to its purchase of VY in 2002, yet chose to delay the repairs until at least 2014? The VYOP also found that VY's design could not be licensed today because it does not meet today's modern NRC design criteria?" (Actually, Arnie did not use question marks within that statement because he was feeling anything but meek when he wrote it?)

And did you know, God, that they've sprung quite a leak at Indian Point 2 Nuclear Power plant, one of our Entergy "sister" plants? According to The New York Times, "A one-and-a-half-inch hole caused by corrosion allowed about 100,000 gallons of water to escape from the main system that keeps the reactor cool immediately after any shutdown…?" The discovery of a leak of that magnitude has raised concerns about the monitoring of old, buried pipes at nuclear plants like ours?

What should I do? Like I said, we at Vermont Yankee have been told by the folks higher up at Entergy to appear obsequious in public? But when I answer my phone with a chipper yet pleading tone and hear the activists laughing, that's almost too much for poor, little me? Please don't tell me to escape to the Cayman Islands when my phone rings? Because our tax shelters there and our executive housing near the beach are going the way of the Republicans? So near to death, and quickly accelerating toward that white light?

To boost morale here at the plant while we all flex our humility muscles, I've xeroxed for everyone a little "feel good" song? I've burnt a copy as a sacrifice to you and the ashes should have arrived by now? Got it? Then sing it out loudly with us, Lord! (?)

Pretty please?

Grandmother's Song
by Steve Martin

Be courteous, kind and forgiving,
Be gentle and peaceful each day,
Be warm and human and grateful,
And have a good thing to say.

Be thoughtful and trustful and childlike,
Be witty and happy and wise,
Be honest and love all your neighbors,
Be obsequious, purple, and clairvoyant.

(You sing here, God.) Be pompous, obese, and eat cactus,
Be dull, and boring, and omnipresent,
Criticize things you don't know about,
Be oblong and have your knees removed.

(We at Vermont Yankee sing here.) Be tasteless, rude, and offensive,
Live in a swamp and be three dimensional,
Put a live chicken in your underwear,
Get all excited and go to a yawning festival.

(O.K. everybody!)

Be courteous, kind and forgiving,
Be gentle and peaceful each day,
Be warm and human and grateful,
And have a good thing to say.

Lord, let 'em hear you outside when you sing!



Tuesday, April 21, 2009

I Went to a Christmas Party

Dear God,

Do you read The Reformer?

Tuesday, April 21
BRATTLEBORO -- A regional activist group opposed to the continued operation of Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant has asked Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell to investigate the relationship between a Vermont Yankee lobbyist and the state's … commissioner of the Department of Public Service.

The lobbyist is Jay Thayer, who also happens to be the former site vice president of Vermont Yankee. The commissioner is David O’Brien, and in December of 2008, O'Brien invited Thayer and a whole bunch of legislators and other people with whom Thayer might want to hobnob on behalf of VY to a Christmas party in O’Brien’s home. Knowing this, The New England Coalition has filed suit, saying that, as a regulator, O’Brien needs to maintain a strictly professional relationship with a representative of the company he regulates. This is especially important because, in order to continue generating power in the state of Vermont after its original license expires in 2012, VY must convince both O’Brien and the Public Service Board to grant it a certificate of public good.

Which it will most likely try to do. Everyone knows that Thayer and O’Brien have been BFFs for God knows how long, God. The folks of The New England Coalition have pissed and moaned about that before. But this is the first time in my memory that they’ve caught much press doing so. Why the change? Well, in the spirit of Passover, Lord, let me re-phrase that fundamental question to put it in keeping with the first question of the Pesach Haggadah, a question you heard emanating from millions of households only a little more than a week ago.

Why [was] this night different from all other nights?

The answer has nothing to do with slaves in Egypt being set free. It has to do, rather, with the presence at the party of legislators and, not incidentally, of representatives of the utilities. But it is probably the legislators about whom The New England Coalition is most concerned, for before the PSB can grant VY a certificate of public good, it must get legislative approval to do so. And the probability of the legislature giving that approval has become increasingly slim as time goes on and problems at the plant surface alongside news of the potential of alternative power sources.

Indeed, this morning’s Reformer reports that in a letter to the Vermont Attorney General, Robert "Jake" Stewart, president of the New England Coalition, wrote, "The spectacle of the commissioner socializing with the key lobbyist of a business that he has a duty to regulate; and worse, arranging the soirée to include members of the Legislature and utility representatives, underscores a growing public perception that both the department and the governor are tainted by partiality favoring the fortunes of Entergy Nuclear.”

Do you remember, God, how we at Vermont Yankee have all had training in evacuating in case of radiation emergency, and how the control room operators have had marijuana brownie training and the Wackenhut guards have had don’t-get-our-corporate-name-in-the-paper-again-by-sleeping-through-your-shift-like-they-do-at-other-Wackenhut-plants training as well as whatever-you-do-don't-moon-the-security-camera training, and how our maintenance department has had don’t-declare-the-leak-fixed-until-it’s-actually-stopped-dripping training? Well, I think that certain state officials need some don't-invite-the-lobbyists-unless-you-also-invite-the-activists training so that the media can stop focusing on fiascos like this and start playing up, instead, the fact that potassium iodide will continue to be distributed to potential evacuees within the 10 mile evacuation zone. (Yay!)

Having realized that a little training could go a long way, I’ve borrowed an old Ricky Nelson song. (It’s old to me, but it’s in fact a late song from his oeuvre. Shortly after recording this song he died in a fiery plane crash. Popular legend has it that the plane caught fire when Nelson and the band started freebasing cocaine in the cabin. But the NTSB says there is no evidence of that--though there is ample evidence that the crash was caused by inadequate technology maintenance. When I distribute the lyrics, I’ll make special note of that to our maintenance folk. “Listen up!” I always like to say with a meaningful smile.)

Anyway, although this song is largely pointless pablum, it does emphasize the fact that lots of people go to Christmas parties. Another good thing about it is it’s got a good beat and you can dance to it, Mr. Clark. And, finally, I like the “Lot-in-dah-dah-dah” stuff. Being a PR professional, I always feel warm and fuzzy when words get nonsensical.

And hey, God, you can get this song as a ring tone!

(Mostly by Ricky Nelson)

I went to a Christmas party to reminisce with my old friends
A chance to share old memories and play our songs again
When I got to the Christmas party, they all knew my name
No one recognized me, I didn't look the same

But it's all right now, I learned my lesson well.
You see, ya can't please everyone, so ya got to please yourself

People came from miles around, everyone was there
Yoko brought her walrus, there was magic in the air
'N' over in the corner, much to my surprise
Mr. Hughes hid in Dylan's shoes wearing his disguise


Lot-in-dah-dah-dah, Lot-in-dah-dah-dah

Played them all the old songs, thought that's why they came
No one heard the music, we didn't look the same
I said hello to "Mary Lou", she belongs to me
When I sang a song about a honky-tonk, it was time to leave


Lot-dah-dah-dah (Lot-dah-dah-dah)

Someone opened up a closet door and out stepped Johnny B. Goode
Playing guitar like a-ringin' a bell and lookin' like he should
If you gotta play at garden parties, I wish you a lotta luck
But if memories were all I sang, I rather drive a truck


Lot-dah-dah-dah (Lot-dah-dah-dah)

'N' it's all right now, learned my lesson well
You see, ya can't please everyone, so you got to please yourself

Switch in your mind Mr. Hughes, Yoko Ono, Bob Dylan and Mary Lou for a few legislators, a utility exec or two, and a lobbyist, and you might be able to make some sense from all of that. Or maybe you won’t. Doesn’t matter; it’s fun to sing.



Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Free Cellphone Ringtone!

Dear God,

Tomorrow (April 16) the NRC will meet with Entergy about the NRC's assessment of the safety performance of the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station for calendar year 2008. That meeting will happen from 3:30 - 5:30 PM at The Ramada Hotel & Conference Center, 1380 Putney Road, Brattleboro. Time will be provided for questions related to the 2008 assessment of Vermont Yankee.

Then, at 7, the NRC will host a Town Hall-type meeting at the same location. Questions will be allowed about the role of the NRC in ensuring safe plant operations.

I hope you come to these meetings, God, 'cause, together, they constitute the kind of event where Entergy might need you on its side. You see, I got the strangest email this morning. An actual but anonymous anti-nuke activist (I'm thinking) sent me a link to the meeting's "theme song," and suggested that I download it to my cell phone prior to the meeting. It's this:

Send Ringtone to Cell Phone

Original version by Leonard Cohen

Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
Everybody knows that the war is over
Everybody knows that the good guys lost
Everybody knows the fight is fixed
The poor stay poor and the rich get rich
Thats how it goes
Everybody knows that the boat is sinking
Everybody knows that the captain lied
Everybodys got this broken feeling
Like their momma or there dog just died
Everybodys hands are in their pockets
Everybody wants a box of chocolates
And a long stem rose
Everybody knows

Everybody knows
Everybody knows
Thats how it goes
Everybody knows

Everybody knows
Everybody knows
Thats the way it goes
Everybody knows

Everybody knows that its now or never
Everybody knows that its me or you
Everybody knows that you live forever
When you had a line or two
Everybody knows the deal is rotten
Old black joe still pickin cotton
For ribbons and bows
Everybody knows you love me baby
Everybody knows that you really do
Everybody knows that you been faithful
Give or take a night or two
Everybody knows you been discrete
So many people you had to meet
Without your clothes
And everybody knows

Everybody knows
Everybody knows
Thats the way it goes
Everybody knows

Everybody knows
Everybody knows
Thats how it goes
And everybody knows

Send Ringtone to Cell Phone

A big, nervous "amen" to you, Lord,


Monday, April 6, 2009

NRC Hires David Lochbaum to Teach Them That Accidents Can Happen

Dear God,

David Lochbaum, a nuclear safety engineer who spent 12 years with the Union of Concerned Scientists, has been hired by the NRC to teach boiling water reactor technology to NRC employees in classroom and control room simulator sessions.

You're not alone, God. No one here knows what to think either. It's not necessarily a betrayal of Entergy that the NRC hired him. They were entirely within their rights to engage him or any scientist who has built his reputation in nuclear safety. Safety is actually supposed to be the primary concern of the NRC.

Even the activists aren't sure what to think. Was participating in employment talks with the NRC a conflict of interest for David Lochbaum as he served on the Vermont Yankee Public Oversight Panel? Well, he wasn't on the NRC's payroll at the time that he served on the panel. And, anyway, the NRC and the panel were not technically in adversarial positions regarding Entergy.

I know, I know. By advocating safety for 12 years, he may have been acting against the best interests of Entergy's fast money investors. But grow up, God. The world is changing. You win some; you lose some. Forgiveness is the new black.

Still, this whole thing does make me nervous. For the past several decades, the NRC has mollified many (and infuriated some) by promoting the idea that, as long as engineers and plant operators conform to standard procedure, safety is assured. Entergy has said essentially the same thing. Fitting tidily within the bell curve of acceptable performance is what really matters. But now, according to the Reformer, this Lochbaum guy says that his classroom approach will be a "reverse bell curve" one. He will teach about "the times when things work worse or better than expected."

"Better than expected" I know what to do with. Safecleanreliablebetterthanexpected.com anyone? But "worse than expected" acknowledges that nuclear plant operation can involve disastrous surprises. That's a trade secret that we and the NRC have guarded for thirty years now, and that he's cavalierly disclosed.

It may be time to cue the storm clouds and lawyers.



Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Ten Best Things about Entergy Not Investing Enough Time and Money to Assure that VY Is Well Maintained

Dear God,

On March 17 the Independent Oversight Panel on the Comprehensive Reliability Assessment of the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant gave its report to the Vermont legislature. Here are the ten best things about it!

10. Nobody read it. How could they? It's 66 pages long. Why didn't the panel just put something short on YouTube?

9. The report said that "acceptable reliability … beyond 2012 is possible if the recommendations of this report and the NRA report are taken." That gives me something to brag about, and most people will stop reading at the end of that sentence because that's about as much polysyllabism as people can stand.

8. If people were to read on they would learn that Entergy does not spend enough time and money to assure that VY is well maintained. But they won't read on. See item 9 for reason.

7. Panel member Arnie Gundersen tried to bring to the fore the fact that Entergy has not necessarily got the right stuff to make the plant acceptably reliable. In his own testimony, he said, "I concur with the group consensus that it may be possible for Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee to operate for an additional 20 years. However, Act 189 did not require, nor does the Audit itself contain, an assessment of just how difficult that process may be…. I believe that Entergy faces enormous challenges to operate ENVY past 2012. To me as an Engineer, many of these problems may be surmountable if taken individually, however, neither Act 189 nor the NSA Audit required abroader perspective of how these pieces all fit together. As a former nuclear engineering Senior VP with more than 35-years of uuclear engineering experience, I believe it will be extraordinarily difficult for ENVY to continue to operate reliably due to the corporate cultural problems uncovered by both the Oversight Panel and the NSA Audit." Well spoken, Arnie, but make it shorter and put it on YouTube.

6. David Letterman got married this week, and so everyone will pay attention to his 10 Best Things about Getting Married instead of questions about the level of resources we are willing to put into reliability and safety for Vermont Yankee.

5. Arnie Gunersen also pointed out that the cooling tower collapse and the transformer fire were preventable. But since his testimony, Portia De Rossi came to her senses and apologized for marrying Ellen DeGeneres. So who do you think Vermonters are more apt to listen to? Arnie Gundersen or two women with complicated last names?

4. The panel's report has prompted Entergy to repeatedly assure Vermonters that it is a really nice company. There have been groans of disbelief, but they've been drowned out with applause for and huge waves of relief over Lindsay Lohan's statement that she is a really good person.

3. Little Fockers (the movie) is a go, and Little Fockers (the relicensing) may be, too.

2. Jenny McCarthy gets Botox treatments, and says that sex with Jim Carey is still great but he might not know because her face is frozen. How can anyone even think about disparaging Entergy when she puts herself out there like that?

1. They've been talking about vibrators on "The View." And people are still worried about our energy future? Get a life!

God, Amen,


Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Wonderful World of Leonard

Dear God,

I don't understand the uproar over AIG. They got bailout money from the Feds, and they gave it to their executives. So what?

As I prayed almost a year ago today, back in 2006 the Feds bailed out Entergy, giving them $200 million in federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG)[Katrina relief] funding (via Louisiana) and $81 million in CDBG funds (via Mississippi). Roughly 9.7% of the disaster relief funds went into J. Wayne Leonard's very own, private pocket.

Like AIG, Entergy did not try to hide what it was doing. Fleecing taxpayers was as legal then as it is today. According to the website EntergyPayWatch.org, in Entergy's 2008 proxy statement, the Entergy board cited J. Wayne Leonard's ability to gain the Federal relief funds as one of the reasons he deserved such big bonuses--and a total compensation package in 2007 that works out to $100,721 per day, or $12,590 per hour.

The similiarities of Entergy then to AIG now couldn't be clearer.

Anyway, the big income stream for AIG in 2009 seems like it might be collecting fares for bus tours giving angry taxpayers glimpses of AIG executives' homes. Do you think we could generate income from tours of Mr. Leonard's castle? I hear it's a carousel of color--wonderful, wonderful color.

Let me know what you think, Lord. I'm so inspired by the idea, I feel a song coming on.



Friday, March 6, 2009


Dear God,


I'm a flexible guy, Lord, but this steady stream of news is getting me down. Earlier this week I had a one-two punch. At town meeting 31 towns (I think) gave Vermont Yankee a no-confidence vote, and then the VSNAP meeting on March 4 degenerated into bickering and sniping. And now all this on the Alt Energy front. Jesus.

I would like to pray for a moment with you about pornography, if I may, now that I've got your sympathy, God. (Don't worry. I'm not going non sequitur all over you again.) It's just that ... well, people have called Entergy's attention to energy production dollars over health and safety obscene, especially given recent advances in alternative energy. I know that lust is one of the Seven Deadlies, and I'm trying hard as all get out to avoid it. But I do think I see differences between Entergy's values and pornography in general, and I truly believe those differences are important for us to examine. Together.

For example, here's the flow of action in a typical porn movie compared to the flow of action here at Vermont Yankee. You'll have to click the image to see it well enough to read it, but I think you'll understand me when I say that we may sin in thought at Entergy Vermont Yankee, but not so terribly badly in deed.

Am I right, Lord? Aren't we looking pretty good--at least as opposed to most porn movies? If so, should I talk to the press about this to counter all the bad news we've been getting lately? Or would that be bragging? Pride is Deadly, as you know, and I don't want to die.



Saturday, February 28, 2009

If You Watch "The China Syndrome" Backwards

Dear God,

If you watch "The China Syndrome" backwards:

It's a story about a peppy reporter, played by Jane Fonda, who is concerned about how damaging on-the-job stress can be for nuclear power plant employees when they think that the plant they work for is endangering the lives of others. One stressed out employee holds a gun on control room operators and gets killed as a result. Another stressed out employee dies in a car accident. But a meeting of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission produces a generalized calm. People start driving more reasonably and behaving better. This allows the Jane Fonda character to get back to reporting human interest stories and worrying about her hair.



Friday, February 27, 2009

Safe, Clean, and Green

Dear God,

Clean coal isn't safe, clean, or green, either.



Wednesday, February 25, 2009

More Solar Power than Can Be Generated By a Nuclear Plant!

Dear God,

The largest series of solar installations in history is planned for the desert outside Los Angeles, and it will deliver more electricity than even the largest nuclear plant.

This won't be solar-panel power, it will be solar thermal power. Through a consetellation of 7 arrays of the sort you see here, the sun's rays will be concentrated to create steam in boilers and spin turbines. Together the "plants" will deliver 3.7 billion kilowatt hours of power per year—enough, probably, to power a city the size of San Francisco.

Thank God, God, that we don't have the expansive desert here in the Northeast in which to fit all those solar energy suckers. Thank goodness, Goodness, that we don't have out-of-work people that this sort of approach to energy production would employ. We keep our pasty-skinned, anxious workers busy, thank you very much, fixing the radioactive leaks and crumbling towers you've deemed our burden. They noodle with evacuation plans. They attend public meetings. They keep their eyes and thoughts away from the snowy mountains and meadows that could reflect sunlight so gloriously and bounce it onwards to a new life of service.

Thank heavens, Heavens, that solar thermal schemes have been proven to be less than wunderkinds financially. Or at least one has. Kind of. Well, it wasn't really disappointing, and it wasn't really the opposite of that, either. See, the only currently operating solar thermal facility in America was built during the 1980s in the Mojave Desert. It was launched with a lot of hope. Shortly afterward, energy and gas prices plummeted and thermal stopped getting headlines. Though that first plant is still operating, which means that it probably is reliable--and safe. And it sure looks clean.

Anyway, Lord, I thank you for the gifts you have given us. Jim Douglas. David O'Brien. Patrick Moore. Real Rob. J. Wayne. Danny Lichtenfeld.

Praise the Lord, Lord.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

How Do You Spell E-P-I-D-E-M-I-O-L-O-G-Y?

Dear God,

In Brattleboro on February 25 (and in Bellows Falls on February 26), German epidemiologist Dr. Winfrid Eisenberg will talk about a study that looked at 24 years worth of statistics regarding children who live near or around normally functioning nuclear power plants. The plants are in Germany. The children were from 0-4 years old.

The study's scientists discovered that the closer a child lives to a nuclear power plant, the higher the risk of cancer, especially leukemia. Children living within a three-mile radius of the plant have double the cancer risk.

Well, duh. Why do you think Entergy donated radiation suits for the kindergartners at Vernon Elementary School? And they're five- and six-year olds! Don't we get extra credit for being extra careful?

Look, it's not like Dr. Eisenberg is a fifth-generation Vermonter or anything. ("Ich bin ein Vermonter." As if.) Can't we stop him from coming? Can't we use the same logic that anti-nuke activists tried to use when they wanted to stop Entergy New Orleans from buying Vermont Yankee?

"Vermont für Vermonters!"

And besides, remember what I said at the beginning of this prayer? Those damning epidemiological statistics are from nuclear power plants that were functioning normally. Vermont Yankee, on the other hand, has not been doing that for quite a while. There was the spectacular cooling tower collapse and the repeated issues with the cooling towers despite our assurances that we've fixed their structural problems. There was (still is, I think) the elevated fenceline radiation. There was the discovery of many new cracks in the steam dryer. There was the crane incident, in which a 90-ton gantry cask of radioactive waste was allowed to slowly drop to the floor. Most recently Vermont Yankee has developed a radioactive leak that just won't quit.

As I told the Associated Press, our several attempts to fix the leak have failed.

And as the NRC said about a similar leak at Connecticut's Millstone Unit 2, these leaks, "have the potential to cause a loss-of-coolant accident and to result in personnel injury or death."

So what Dr. Eisenberg is about to tell the community about the danger of normally functioning nuclear power plants is inappropriate information for the community surrounding Vermont Yankee.

But this plant is not normal.

Let's make that as clear as we possibly can. There are no data available for plants like this one. For who could possibly gather useful longitudinal data for a plant with problems as bad as ours?

Plants this scary get shut down.




Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Audacity of Dope

Dear God,

Yes, yes. I heard. Now J.P. Morgan has joined Jeffries & Co. and Deutsche Bank in downgrading Entergy stock. Specifically, J.P. Morgan has dropped Entergy's rating to Neutral from Overweight and has lowered its price target. That's more bad financial news for the company that pretends to have half a billion dollars at the ready, no problem, just in case decommissioning eventually requires it, all the while arguing that it actually doesn't own Vermont Yankee any longer and so actually doesn't have to have any of those dollars at the ready.

But today there is good news to be had, as well!

Vermont Yankee has given birth to octuplets!

In a grateful nod to Nadya Suleman, who, in thanks to You for Your bounty, has given each of her 8 newborns a middle name of Angel, Vermont Yankee has named its babies A-H as follows:

  • Low-Level Radioactive Leaks and Waste Angel Vermont Yankee
  • High-Level Radioactive Leaks and Waste Angel Vermont Yankee
  • Half a Billion Dollars Short in the Decommissioning Fund Angel Vermont Yankee
  • Enexus Angel Vermont Yankee
  • No Need to Protect Nuclear Power Plants from a Plane Crash (because Who Ever Heard of Diving a Plane into a Terrorist Target?) Angel Vermont Yankee
  • Inability to Keep Adequate Track of Spent Fuel Rods Angel Vermont Yankee
  • Lies about High-Level Radioactive Waste Going to Yucca Mountain Angel Vermont Yankee
  • Come to Think of It, It's a Good Thing Waste Will Stay in Vermont Because Terrorists Could Blow It Up In Transit and Ignite a Traffic-Jammed Tunnel, for Example, and Thereby Poison a Whole City and Even Region Angel Vermont Yankee

In celebration of the birth of these octuplets, Vermont Yankee is quietly planning to go on the nuclear industry equivalent of general relief. (Which is to say that we plan to pass on to taxpayers as many of the financial obligations related to these octuplets as we possibly can.)

PR problems that may arise:

  • Vermont Yankee will be accused of being "fixated" on having children like the little Angels we're now announcing. In the event of such accusations, we will becomingly admit that we've always wanted to have children, and that we try to pay attention to each child for at least 45 minutes each day.
  • Vermont Yankee's other children will be profiled, and in a way that is unflattering to our continuing efforts to be model parents. People may even drag the names of our eight other, "non-Angel" children--The Lawsuit by Massachusetts to Stop Relicensing Vermont Yankee, The 90-Ton Gantry Cask of Radioactive Junk that We Let Slowly Drop to the Floor, The Many Additional Cracks in the Steam Dryer, The Spectacular 2007 Cooling Tower Collapse and Our Efforts to Make Light of It, The Ongoing Structural Problems with Cooling Towers, The Elevated Fenceline Radiation, and The Contention Between the Vertical Audit Public Oversight Panel and the commissioner of the Department of Public Service--through the mud. In the event of such below-the-belt attacks, we will hint that all of our executives, including CEO J. Wayne Leonard whose five-year compensation Forbes estimates at $45.84 million, will bite the bullet and fly coach somewhere some day.

In other news: Did you hear about the plans by The North Springfield Sustainable Energy Project to build a biomass plant in Springfield? They say they have the resources to build it without additional financing, and that it will permanently employ about 25 people full time. One hundred people or so will be employed during the building phase.