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,