Catch-22 in the Hot Zone






By Sue Prent

Originally Published December 4th, 2017 in Green Mountain Daily 

“...There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one's safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions.” - Joseph Heller, “Catch-22.”

As reported in Vermont Digger (Oct. 30, 2017), Entergy Vermont Yankee’s Government Affairs Manager, Joe Lynch, evoked the logic of “Catch-22” when he suggested that it would be unwise to look for further contamination of the Vermont Yankee site because doing so might redistribute the pollutants to new locations, to wit: “...Additional testing of polluted or potentially polluted areas at Vermont Yankee would ‘introduce the risk of spreading any potential contaminants.’ ”

When further questioned by ANR, Lynch offered the following clarification: “For instance, he warned that ‘invasive characterization and sampling’ could ‘create new pathways for water infiltration’ – a problem that’ s already causing extra work and expense at Vermont Yankee.”

Lynch also noted that the plant has “active systems still in place” such as fire protection mechanisms that rely on underground pipes.

Oh, those pesky underground pipes! I’m old enough to remember (2010) Entergy insisting to the PSB that there could be no leaks in the undergone pipes because there were no underground pipes. Entergy’s already weak credibility suffered further from the revelation that, not only were there underground pipes on the site, but those pipes had leaked tritium into the groundwater.

I believe it was then-Senator Randy Brock who observed at the time that “Moe, Curly and Larry are more credible than Energy Louisiana in the Senate.” (NY Times, November 1, 2010).

Eager to get shy of the exhausted milk cow, Vermont Yankee, Entergy is once again indulging in whimsy so as not to further complicate a potential deal with NorthStar. NorthStar’s interest in Vermont Yankee is of the bargain basement variety and there is already some question as to whether or not the smaller company can ultimately be relied upon to complete decommissioning. In such a trade environment, any additional contamination discovery will undermine Entergy’s ability to close the deal.

Entergy reinforces its argument against independent sampling with the threat that, should the sale fall through, VY will be mothballed and left standing for decades, laying the exposure risks associated with sampling, as well as the mess of decommissioning, on a future generation of Vermonters. Here’s your legacy, Kids. Enjoy and don’t forget to say your prayers!