Beyond Nuclear testimony to Vermont Legislature regarding Vermont Yankee radioactivity leaks

On Jan. 27th, Beyond Nuclear's Radioactive Waste Watchdog, Kevin Kamps, testified before a joint hearing of the State of Vermont House and Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committees regarding radioactivity leaks from underground pipes at Entergy Nuclear's Vermont Yankee atomic reactor. The notes accompanying Kevin's Power Point Presentation can be obtained upon request. Beyond Nuclear's Reactor Oversight Project Director, Paul Gunter, also prepared a backgrounder on buried pipes and tritium leaks that was distributed to Vermont legislative committee members. Later that same day, nuclear expert witness Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds Associates, Inc., presented a Power Point Presentation documenting Entergy Nuclear's repeated "misstatements" regarding the presence of buried piping that carries radioactive materials at the Vermont Yankee atomic reactor.


Beyond Nuclear press statement on DOE call for nuclear loan guarantee expansion and announcement of radioactive waste panel

Kevin Kamps, Beyond Nuclear's watchdog on radioactive waste and nuclear power subsidies, issued a press statement in response to U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu's proposal to more than double the federal nuclear loan guarantee program from $20.5 billion to $54.5 billion, as well as his announcement on the membership of his long-awaited "blue ribbon commission" on high-level radioactive waste management. Barack Obama's Presidential Memorandum about the radioactive waste panel has a very telling title: "Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future". As reflected in the introductory language, it seems the Obama administration sees the unsolved, nearly 70-year-old (1942-2010) radioactive waste dilemma not as a mounting threat to public safety, health, and the environment, but more as a pesky public relations impediment impediment to the industry's coveted, will-o-the-wisp "nuclear renaissance." President Obama writes: "Expanding our Nation's capacity to generate clean nuclear energy is crucial to our ability to combat climate change, enhance energy security, and increase economic prosperity. My Administration is undertaking substantial steps to expand the safe, secure, and responsible use of nuclear energy. These efforts are critical to accomplishing many of my Administration's most significant goals." In terms of dirty, dangerous, and expensive nuclear power and radioactive waste, this is not change we can believe in. Regarding expanding nuclear loan guarantees, the National Taxpayers Union has blogged that this could easily turn into a ten billion dollar boondoggle. Consumer advocate and Green Party/independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader, along with a coalition of national environmental groups including Beyond Nuclear, have written Energy Secretary Chu requesting a meeting to discuss energy policy in response to these developments of the past few days.


Ask Obama the tough questions on YouTube

From the Energy Action Coalition

When we rallied more than 350,000 youth clean energy voters in 2008, we dreamed of a day when our next President would declare that developing a clean energy economy and passing a climate bill were the nation's top priorities.

Last night in the State of the Union, Barack Obama made it the centerpiece of his vision for moving forward, dedicating significant time to discussing it first before important issues like education, fiscal management, and even health care. However, the victory celebration was short-lived when he said: "That means building a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants in this country. It means making tough decisions about opening new offshore areas for oil and gas development. It means continued investment in advanced biofuels and clean coal technologies."

President Obama will be answering questions on YouTube about the State of the Union address next week. Help us ask him why he wants to waste our limited financial resources on dirty energy when we should ramp up efficiency, wind and solar, which are economically sustainable and create clean and safe jobs for our generation?

Is this the change that millions of young people voted for? In 2008 we turned out in record numbers and demanded bold action on the climate crisis, but promoting coal, nuclear, and oil sure doesn't look like change.

Young climate leaders like yourself challenge our President every day to speak boldly on the climate crisis. Our generation must define whether the upcoming decade will be one of exacerbating environmental injustices and climate change, or whether it will be one where our President will stand up for real clean energy jobs like those found in weatherizing homes, propping up wind turbines, and installing solar panels on roofs.

Our question about real solutions is only one among many YouTube questions submitted. Click here to vote and make sure our question to President Obama is asked!

And don’t forget to sign the Beyond Nuclear letter to President Obama on our Take Action page.


Obama disappoints in State of the Union, calling for oil, coal and nuclear

In a disappointing moment during his State of the Union speech that surely must have alienated many in the environmental movement that helped elect him president, Barack Obama called for the three pillars of pollution to address U.S. energy needs. In citing the need for more “clean energy jobs” the president outlined three of the priorities most bitterly opposed by environmentalists – “building a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants in this country. . .  making tough decisions about opening new offshore areas for oil and gas development. . .  continued investment in advanced biofuels and clean coal technologies.” He added that it was also necessary to pass “a comprehensive energy and climate bill with incentives that will finally make clean energy the profitable kind of energy in America”. 

In a short statement released to the press shortly after the speech, Beyond Nuclear's Linda Gunter said: “Obama’s corporate colors have been showing for some time but now they are on full display. How he can see oil, coal and nuclear as compatible with climate change legislation is breathtaking. Tonight’s performance really saw Obama, Inc. at its environmental nadir.”

Despite the uphill battle faced by Beyond Nuclear and other environmental and anti-nuclear groups to confront the enormous power of the corporate lobbyists, our efforts will continue and increase as we seek to educate and inform our leadership about the need to drive the CON team (Coal, Oil, Nuclear) away from the federal feeding trough in order to give renewable energy a real chance of success. Please be sure to sign out letter to Obama in our Take Action section. And watch for new actions, coming soon.


Co-60 and Zn-65 also detected in Vermont Yankee groundwater

In addition to the hazards of tritium, harmful Cobalt-60 and Zinc-65 radioisotopes have been detected in groundwater at Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. According to the Rutland Herald,  Co-60 levels are 130 times higher than federal reportable levels, while the Zn-65 levels are over 8 times higher than federal reportable levels. Tritium concentrations in a test well just 30 feet from the Connecticut River are higher than EPA Safe Drinking Water Act limits allow, and tritium concentrations in a radioactive waste trench are even in violation of NRC's lax groundwater standards. Meanwhile, Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee has hired a Washington, D.C. law firm to investigate allegations, and do damage control, concerning top ENVY officials providing false testimony under oath to state officials regarding the presence of buried pipes at Vermont Yankee that carry radioactive liquids.