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.
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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.