Mass Live carried an Associated Press story today that reported:
The soon-to-close Vermont Yankee nuclear plant wants to stop more than $2 million in annual payments for emergency planning in the region, but a watchdog group opposes that, saying nuclear waste on-site will create continuing risks.
Vermont Yankee’s argument is that the fuel remaining at the plant will no longer be dangerous:
Plant officials have told the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that the radioactive spent fuel will have cooled enough by mid-2016 that they should then be able to stop paying to maintain the 10-mile emergency evacuation zone around the plant.
Opponents of the plant argue that there will still be a danger posed by the spent fuel when it it transferred to dry casks for long-term storage:
…Raymond Shadis of the nuclear watchdog group New England Coalition pointed to an NRC document describing the possibility of an accident during the process of unloading the spent fuel pool. The casks are brought into the pool as they are loaded. The NRC document raised the possibility that one of the 110-ton casks could be dropped.
As you may remember, there was a fatal accident involving a dropped piece of equipment being moved by crane at Arkansas Nuclear One in 2013. There was also a serious crane accident at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in October 2011.
It also seems a little premature to cut back on emergency services at Vermont Yankee until a full study has been done on the dangers posed not only by transfer of fuel, but of the ongoing danger of terrorist acts involving attempts to steal material that could be used in the manufacture of a dirty bomb.
I don’t won’t to undercut the seriousness of this post, but I can’t help quoting Homer Simpson:
Weaseling out of things is important to learn. It’s what separates us from the animals…. except the weasel.