Monday, June 20, 2011

The Thrill Is Over

Dear God,

I was going to send you a postcard, but I'm not really on vacation. I've been transferred--to Entergy's Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant--which, when you think of it, is kind of like being on vacation because it's on Cape Cod Bay. So, frankly, I haven't prayed because I'm no longer that interested in how the people of Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts feel about Vermont Yankee. As if I ever was.

And then there's the added problem of every time anyone says "nuclear power" recently, everyone thinks "Fukushima," and then no one feels like laughing.

But today's news is so breath-takingly scary that I thought I'd pray anyway. The Nation is reporting that the Obama administration "has ordered a 'total and complete' news blackout relating to any information regarding the near catastrophic meltdown of the Fort Calhoun Nuclear Power Plant located in Nebraska."

It's right near Omaha. Hey, Cornhuskers are people, too! Apparently, nearly two weeks ago, the plant suffered a catastrophic loss of cooling to one of its spent fuel rod pools, and as a result there was a fire. This happened as a consequence of Missouri River flooding. The release of radioactivity into the atmosphere appears to have been negligable.

However you spell "negligable." It's a word we use a lot in nuclear plant PR, so you'd think I'd know.

Anyway, God, I'll be in touch again. But not as much. Like I said, I don't work for Vermont Yankee anymore. Also, remember I said I wouldn't pray about the Fukushima disaster because there was nothing funny in it? Well, that's how I'm feeling about Omaha now, too--and Obama. (This is assuming that The Nation's report is correct.) If The Nation has its story straight, the thrill is over on any relationship between POTUS and me. BB King would be crying a river of tears if he were here--which might be bad, if he were in the vicinity of a nuclear power plant.

Lots of amens, God. Best friends forever!


Update 9pm: The New York Times has a story about nuclear plants and flooding on the Missouri.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Ralph, What Hast Thou Wrought?

Dear God,

On Sunday The Daily Beast posted a rogue's gallery of firms represented by the PR firm of Burson-Marsteller--which not too recently represented Entergy. Who knows, it might still represent Entergy? Burson-Marsteller is being deliciously vague about that.

According to The Daily Beast, Burson-Marsteller's other clients have included:

    The Nigerian Government. During 1967-1970 civil war, the rebel Biafrans accused Nigeria of conducting genocide as part of its winning strategy. (Nigeria had imposed blockades that starved the Biafrans, most of them Igbo people, in besieged areas.) Nigeria countered boldly and humanely. It hired Burson-Marsteller. But, hey, good things came out of the Biafra crisis. There was George Harrison's album, "All Things Must Pass." And there's Doctors Without Borders. In two-and-a-half years of war, about 1 million civilians died.

    General Motors. That pesky Ralph Nader. Long before he threw the 2000 presidential election to George Bush, he wrote a book called Unsafe at Any Speed. It was about GM's Corvette. Unsafe at Any Speed--and over 100 pending lawsuit--were driving down Corvette sales. Burson-Marsteller to the rescue.

    Romanian Dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu. This was during the 1970s, before he became so paranoid and delusional that Romania executed him.

    The Argentinian Junta, which in the late 1970s disappeared an estimated 13,000 leftists.

    Babcock and Wilcox, the designers of Three Mile Island.

    Union Carbide in the aftermath of the 1984 Bhopal Disaster.

    The Indonesian Government which, in 1991, hired Burson-Marsteller to boost its image after at least 250 East Timorese pro-independence demonstrators were shot by the military.

    Philip Morris.

    Monsanto, to help them brand GMO crops.

    Saudi Arabia, right after the 9/11 attacks, and right before it was revealed that 15 of the 19 airplane hijackers were from Saudi Arabia.

    Blackwater, when their employees allegedly shot and killed 17 Iraqi civilians.

    AIG when it almost tanked the U.S. economy.

You should really see the article, Lord. The photos alone are worth the click. I'm fairly sure Burson-Marsteller is no longer directing our Vermont Yankee efforts, though they did get us through our transformer fire and cooling tower collapse days. I'm kinda considering suggesting that it's time to once again sign up with these miracle workers ... but, really, what PR help do we need now? Yes, the New York Times, has reported that, in the wake of Japan's Fukushima Daiichi disaster, Germany may close its entire fleet of plants by 2021. Yes, Italy and Switzerland are stopping development of new plants. And, yes, Burson-Marsteller handled the arrest of our entire management staff superbly. But our PR needs are different now.

We've had a game change here, and public opinion no longer matters to us at all. Sure, tireless old ladies continue to SHUT DOWN VERMONT YANKEE and get hauled off to jail.

But it's the courts that will now decide the fate of Entergy Vermont Yankee. Pat Parenteau, senior counsel to the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic, is premature in boasting that "There's no way the state should lose." Some day this case will be in the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court. And I'm guessing that at least five of those judges have close friends who to this day splash about it in deep wells of gratitude for the divine interference that Burson-Marsteller arranged in one sordid matter or another.

Do you, indeed, work for ol' B-M, Lord? Some people in Vermont think you do. Anyway, it's a snap who Ralph Nader works for. No, not General Motors. Haven't you been paying attention? He works for Entergy! By handing the 2000 presidential election to George Bush he may have also handed a 20-year Certificate of Public Good to Entergy Vermont Yankee.



Update: Yikes! The old ladies are at it again! They just sent news of their recent action. On Friday, having chained and locked the Vermont Yankee gate, Julie Levy, 61, of Weathersfield, VT; Robin Lloyd, 72, of Burlington, VT: Nina Swaim, 73, of Sharon, VT; Betsy Corner, 63 of Colrain, MA; Frances Crowe, 92, of Northampton, MA; Marcia Gagliardi, 63, of Athol, MA; Jean Grossholtz, 82, of South Hadley, MA; Ellen Graves, 70, of West Springfield, MA; Hattie Nestel, 72, also of Athol, MA; Paki Wieland, 67, also of Northampton, MA; and Jennifer Wright, 64, of Unity, NH. They The eleven read the following statement after chaining the gate shut:

"We are here today to shut down the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant IMMEDIATELY and WITHOUT DELAY and FOR GOOD.

"We are appalled at the irresponsible action of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in granting Entergy permission to operate this dangerous facility for more than another twenty years.

"Because the federal government and Entergy will not honor the public good by shutting down Vermont Yankee, we must take this action and SHUT IT DOWN NOW.

"No more accidents.

"No more leaks

"No more lies.

"No more tax subsidies.

"No more.



Monday, April 18, 2011

Unprotected Sex, and See You in Court

Dear Lord,

Today the Reformer reported that Entergy has filed suit to keep Vermont Yankee open. This is because the NRC has voted to renew our operating license in 2012, yet the Vermont legislature has declined to send us merrily on our way toward receiving the necessary certificate of public good.

As Richard Smith, President of Entergy Wholesale Commodities, said, "We have made every reasonable effort to accommodate the state of Vermont and its officials while allowing the continued operation of Vermont Yankee - an outcome that benefits all stakeholders, including Vermont consumers and the approximately 650 men and women who work at the plant. Despite the fact that Vermont Yankee is important to the reliability of the New England electric transmission grid, emits virtually no greenhouse gases, and provides more than $100 million in annual economic benefits to the state of Vermont, it has been made clear that state officials are singularly focused on shutting down the plant. That has left us with no other choice but to seek relief in the court system."

I couldn't have said it better myself! Truly, Lord, it is unfortunate and unfair that such eloquence will surely be drowned out by another item in today's news. The New York Times is reporting that robots working inside Japan's crippled nuclear reactor have determined that the plant is now too radioactive for even disaster workers to enter. And this is after Japan's regulatory agency more than doubled the legal limit for nuclear workers' exposure!

Darn it all. We just don't seem to be able to catch a good news cycle.

Also in the news today, the President-Elect of the American College of Surgeons has resigned in the wake of widespread outrage after he publicly extolled the mood-enhancing effects of semen on women during unprotected sex. I mention this only because I suspect he is looking for work.

Which means he could join our PR team and support the president of Entergy Wholesale Commodities in extolling the mood-enhancing effects of nuclear power on Vermonters during electricity protection that threatens their lives.

It's nice to know that the President of Entergy Wholesale Commodities has only Vermonters' comfort and pleasure in mind, just like men who insist women have unprotected sex are only thinking of the mood boost those women will get.



Thursday, March 31, 2011

Dynamic Point of View Based Business Strategy

Dear God,

We've been unable to sell Vermont Yankee. As reported by the Brattleboro Reformer, we received interest from a number of companies, but the uncertain political environment in Vermont scared everyone away. "The plant's strong operating performance was attractive to potential buyers," we've explained in a press release. "The political uncertainty was not."

You'll be glad to learn, as the Reformer reports, that we are "leaving the door open to any potential purchase offers should conditions change, consistent with our dynamic point-of-view based business strategy."

Anyway, God, want to see what negotiations consistent with our dynamic point-of-view based business strategy look like? The security camera caught a couple'a guys talking. I can't really tell you who is who in this video. Nuclear energy company execs all look alike to m, and they often look this pleased with themselves.

I think I'll go climb a refrigerator.



Monday, March 21, 2011

Still Praying

Dear God,

I thought I'd take the opportunity of the NRC's approval of Vermont Yankee's relicensing to explain why I haven't prayed here lately. I have been praying, silently, for the victims of the murderous havoc that nuclear power has wreaked on Japan. I have been praying for the small number of people with acute radiation poisoning and for the almost unimaginably large number of people whose health long-term will go dramatically downhill. I have also been wondering about the economic cost to Japan and to the world in general of the profound poisoning of a national food supply and of the tainting with deadly radioactive isotopes of the drinking water of the world's largest city (Tokyo, with 33 million people).

But I haven't been publicly praying here because I use this prayer blog mostly to amuse you, dear Lord, while you take care of the weak and wounded of the world. And frankly, as you know, there's been absolutely nothing lately for me to joke about.



Monday, January 24, 2011

If Brendan Behan Could See Us Now

Dear God,

You know how they say that no there's no such thing as bad publicity? Well, then I'm in the midst of a PR dude's dream. Entergy news is everywhere!

Remember how Vermont Yankee wanted other states to be able to export waste to Texas, a move that would possibly decrease its decommissioning costs for VY? Well, we've been in the news in two ways over that one:


  • Panel Approves Importing More Nuclear Waste to Texas. "Texas can import low-level radioactive waste from 36 other states, a commission run jointly by Texas and Vermont decided Tuesday in West Texas. The Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact Commission vote was a decisive victory for Dallas-based Waste Control Specialists, a company whose majority owner is billionaire Harold Simmons, which has shaken off a series of permitting and court challenges by environmental activists...."

And now,

  • Judge Halts Radioactive Dump Plan for Now. "A Texas judge ordered a temporary halt Thursday to a proposal that could allow three dozen states to dump their radioactive waste in far West Texas, a ruling that sided with environmentalists and caught the state attorney general's office off guard...."

And there's the new tritium leak:

  • Officials Investigate Possible New Leak at Vermont Yankee. "Both the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Vermont Department of Health have indicated there may be a new leak of tritiated water at Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in Vernon...."

  • Tritium Found at Nuclear Power Plant. "Radioactive tritium has been found in a water sample from a monitoring well at the Entergy Corp.-owned 620 MW Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant, just a year after another related incident....."

  • Entergy Again Finds Tritium at Vermont Yankee. "Radioactive tritium has been found in a water sample from a monitoring well at Entergy Corp's (ETR.N) Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant, the company said on Friday, a year after the isotope was identifed in a leak at the facility. 'This week Vermont Yankee received positive indications for tritium in a previously unaffected monitoring well located about 150 feet to the north of the area affected by the leak that was identified in January 2010,' plant spokesman Larry Smith said in an email...."

  • Vermont Regulators Hear about Nuclear Leaks "A high-ranking engineer for the company that owns the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant said Tuesday that leaks of radioactive water from two pipes didn't prompt plant personnel to inspect other pipes at the Vernon reactor to see whether they might show similar problems...."

  • Lawyers, Consultants Wrangle Over 'Root Cause' of Yankee Leaks, "The Vermont Public Service Board opened four days of technical hearings Tuesday on petitions from environmental groups seeking to shut down the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant and revoke its state operating permit in the wake of revelations that the facility was leaking radioactive water into the environment.... The “root cause” of the leaks was the most contentious issue...."

Now it seems there are reliability and possibly safety issues at an Entergy plant in Michigan:

And finally there's the value of our corporation:

  • Entergy Stocks Reach 52-week Low "The prices of Entergy Corp. (ETR) shares have declined to close to the 52-week low of $70.83, which is 17.4% off the 52-week high of $84.07. Entergy Corp. is owned by 11 Gurus we are tracking. Among them, 2 have added to their positions during the past quarter. 7 reduced their positions...."

The idea that there's no such thing as bad publicity is often attributed to Phineas T. Barnum. But you know, God? The Irish dramatist Brendan Behan had his own version of the saying. "There is no such thing as bad publicity except your own obituary." Sure and I'm starting to feel a bit of the old sod in my blood. And this is all starting to feel like bad publicity to me.



Saturday, January 22, 2011

You Never Give Me Your Money

Dear God,

I'm sure you heard about the latest tritium leak. We're not really speaking about it publicly yet, so just let me refer you to my oft-repeated advice:


1. To beat the traffic, evacuate the day before an emergency.

2. Radiation exposure is especially harmful to children. Build up your children's immunity by programmatically giving them x-rays beginning shortly after birth.

3. Dress your child in a haz-mat suit for Halloween, just in case that's a bad day for us.

4. Always pack your child's lunch box with holy water.

5. Ask your doctor whether cancer is always as serious as you've been led to believe.

6. Remember that, even if your children are in a school in Guilford, Vernon or Brattleboro, no force in creation can stop a good parent like you from cowboying your way through police lines to get to them once they have been cordoned away from you and proclaimed a public health risk to others.

7. Appreciate the way that evacuation puts your life problems in perspective.

8. Try not to read too much into the little details like how in heaven's name you will ever rebuild your life even if you and everyone you love survive.

9. If you actually work at the Vermont Yankee plant, every day ask yourself, "Hmmm, does this coffee taste a little too potassium iodide-y?" Lousy coffee is a morale buster. During an evacuation, a bright outlook will go a long way.

10. Remember that heart disease is actually our nation's number one killer.

Like I said, we're not yet really giving out information about this. But what we are speaking freely about, at least at the plant, is some good news. We are so glad to finally be able to download Beatles songs from the iTunes store!

It's so cool. You know, one of the things that people don't really appreciate about Vermont Yankee is how much fun we have around here forgiving each other for our blunders and mistakes. It's really a "peace, man" and "no worries" kind of place. Another very cool fact about us: Our employees are happy, picturesque people with good singing voices.

And that's something the ad agency really likes. I know I showed you the website we spent thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars on, the one showing people how downright Caucasian we are and how nice one of us in particular looks in a red bathing suit. Well, did you also know that we sing George Harrison's "My Sweet Lord" at lunchtime in the employee cafeteria, and that when we do we all join in on folk guitars? The "Alleluia"s and "Hare Krishna"s bring tears to our eyes. And did you know that if you don't tear up spontaneously that you can pull your nose hairs when no one is looking and get it to happen?

We talk about the Beatles a lot at Vermont Yankee because, like us, they were technical innovators. Just think of "Abbey Road." Hey, most of the world was way behind the times, playing 8-track cassettes and building nuclear power plants! But they were assuredly bringing Moog synthesizers into the studio and playing chords backwards.

You might also remember that the climax of that album is a 16-minute medley. Hey! Remember "Sun King?" And "She Came in Through the Bathroom Window"--written (did you know?) after a fan came into Paul's house through the bathroom window? And who could forget "You Never Give Me Your Money?"

Well, we haven't forgotten "You Never Give Me Your Money"--not at Vermont Yankee. We started singing it to the state in 2007 when we tried to pocket a quarter of a BILLION dollars from the Decommissioning Fund. (NOTE: Pages 8-12 are particularly fun when sung in chorus.) Specifically, what we did was attempt "to draw down the Vermont Yankee decommissioning fund by applying the cost of the Interim Spent Fuel Storage Installation (ISFSI) to Vermont Yankee’s Decommissioning Fund." NRC statute prohibits this, and eventually Entergy retracted its effort to "strip the fund of these unauthorized costs." Apparently, no other plant in the U.S. has had the cojones to try to use their Decommissioning Fund this way.

So, yes! We're innovators! But, also yes, now we've been found out, and the report has been made public, and all while we're grappling with another ill-timed tritium leak. Frankly, I fear that, boy, we're going to "Carry That Weight" of our incompetence and tomfoolery right into the next legislative vote on our Certificate of Public Good.

I'm frantic about this, God, pulling out my nose hairs and everything.

You got any PR miracles up your sleeve? Any technical ones? Unfortunately, Paul is dead, and he can't help. I know many people say it's George and John who are dead, but I've listened to all of those songs backwards and forwards.

Hare Krishna, My Sweet Lord,