Entergy's Power Play


Entergy’s Power Play


Fairewinds podcast this week features an interview with atomic power watchdog Clay Turnbull, a trustee and staff member for New England Coalition (NEC) in Brattleboro, VT.  Mr. Turnbull, who has spent his career speaking truth to power on environmental issues in the energy arena, was arrested in March 2016 for allegedly trespassing at the Entergy Vermont Yankee (VY) atomic power reactor site. Nuclear power watchdog NEC had requested that Mr. Turnbull [and his real dog Chicklett] photograph the visibility of Entergy’s VY site dry cask waste storage for the aesthetics case currently being heard before the Vermont Public Service Board. Entergy claimed in its testimony to the Public Service Board that the casks would not be visible from any location in Vermont. Listen to Fairewinds’ podcast to hear Mr. Turnbull describe Entergy’s Power Play that uses and abuses the legal system and judicial courts in Vermont.

This sounds to the Fairewinds Crew like a case should be dropped well before more taxpayer funds are misspent. And really – how do the Vermont Statutes (Vermont State Law) define trespassing in Vermont? Vermont lays out the details of its Trespassing laws in Title 13 Chapter 81 Section 3705 of the Vermont Statutes: When proper notice is given, trespassers who enter or remain on any land or place shall be subject to up to 3 months in prison and a fine of $500, or both. Sufficient notice can be done verbally or through “signs or placards so designed and situated as to give reasonable notice.”


Vermont's Power Struggle: 
by Ben Shulman-Reed

arndawg film.jpg

Power Struggle, a new documentary by Turning Tide filmmaker Robbie Leppzer  had its first sneak preview of the entire film in Northampton, Massachusetts Sunday, October 23rd, and I was lucky enough to be part of the Fairewinds Crew to attend its opening. The full-length documentary describes the heated political battle to shut down the aging Vermont Yankee (VY) nuclear power plant, located on the banks of the Connecticut River in Vernon, Vermont. This unique documentary, which took 7-years to film and create, shines a light on the numerous individuals, groups, organizations and politicians in Vermont, who spoke truth to atomic power to ensure that the aged VY atomic reactor close at the end of its 40-year design life. Fairewinds founder Maggie Gundersen and chief engineer Arnie Gundersen played key roles in many aspects of the struggle with their keen attention to detail and expert witness testimonies that are chronicled in the film. 

Having just become a fulltime member of the Fairewinds Crew this past summer it was exciting for me to see Power Struggle showcase Maggie and Arnie’s extensive work at each step of the Vermont Yankee decision-making process. The film also featured Arnie’s somber accounts in the national and international media detailing Japan’s 2011 Fukushima Daiichi atomic reactor meltdowns and disaster; Fukushima Daiichi and Vermont Yankee are almost identical General Electric Mark 1 Boiling Water Reactors built within one year of each other.

Watching Leppzer’s film, which will have another sneak preview November 3 at the Latehis Theater in Brattleboro, VT is a way to place all the varying pieces of the VY conflict in a logical perspective and see the pitfalls every community with an aging atomic reactor is facing. For Vermonters, this film also gives us a chance to celebrate the progress we are making towards a clean, safe energy future. So many Vermonters worked and are continuing to work on ensuring proper handling of the facility and its monumental atomic waste in Vernon – the equivalent of 700 bombs of radioactivity sitting in the unshielded spent fuel pool six stories above the ground – as well as exposing the lies, deceit and ulterior motivation of Entergy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to move forward with their profit-making agendas.

The Northampton audience was spirited in their reaction to the positive efforts of Vermont legislators, community leaders, environmental groups, and activists – including 97-year-old France Crowe, a Quaker who has devoted her life to issues surrounding world peace and environmental justice.

Please join us at the Latchis theater in Brattleboro on November 3rd for another sneak preview benefit screening with the filmmaker Robbie Leppzer, and Maggie and Arnie Gundersen all in attendance! Doors open at 6:00 pm for a reception in the lobby and the film starts at 7pm we hope to see you there!

While preliminary progress has been made towards the decommissioning process at VY, much more oversight by Vermonters is critical to ensure that the leaking tritium and other lethal radioactive isotopes do not continue their migration toward the Connecticut River and nearby aquifer. Entergy signed a contract with Vermonters that the site would be returned to a Greenfield – yet without a federal waste repository, and because the NRC does not recognize the Greenfield standard, who will insure that Vermonters are not left with VY's highly radioactive debris for 250,000 years?


Speaking Truth to Atomic Power Backstory in Entergy's Power Play: 

In 1990 Fairewinds’ chief engineer Arnie Gundersen was fired from his position as a Senior VP with the nuclear engineering consulting firm and vendor Nuclear Energy Services (NES) for uncovering radiation safety violations within the firm and trying to have the firm correct its deficiencies. When Mr. Gundersen detailed his firing to the Connecticut State Legislature at its request, he was sued for $1.5 Million. At that time, Fairewinds’ founder Maggie Gundersen worked as a print journalist and brought Mr. Gundersen’s whistleblowing issue forward to federal regulators and Congress. Senator John Glenn hosted Mr. Gundersen at hearings in Washington, DC, during which Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Chair Ivan Selin commended Mr. Gundersen for the service he provided.  Still, the Gundersens were hung out to dry via the NES lawsuit and the aftermath of a blackballing campaign launched against them by the corporation.  When the dust settled – following a 7-year legal process – the Gundersens had lost their home, pensions, and savings… before receiving a settlement that was less than the losses sustained. They had two young children and no more money to fight for justice in a broken legal system.

No one at Entergy or its law firm was arrested in 2003, when Vermont attorneys representing Entergy used fraudulent documents in an attempt to impeach Mr. Gundersen while he was giving his testimony to the Vermont Public Service Board.  The New England Coalition had retained Mr. Gundersen as an expert witness by to testify to the Public Service Board (PSB)  regarding inconsistencies in Vermont Yankee’s proposed power uprate. While under oath and giving his testimony, Entergy attorneys claimed his testimony was biased as an alleged anti-nuke rather than an expert witness using their fraudulent documents. Entergy was fined $51,000 for failing to provide the correct documents for Mr. Gundersen to review and then trying to impeach his testimony with the new documents that NEC had never received for the PSB case.

Several months later in another docket before the Vermont Public Service Board, Entergy was fined $81,000 when Mr. Gundersen uncovered a secret Entergy plan  to build additional buildings on site without informing the State.  Once again, no one from Entergy was arrested – handcuffed – or harassed as Mr. Trunbull has been.

Governor Peter Shumlin, then President pro-tem of the Vermont Senate, appointed Mr. Gundersen to the Vermont Yankee Public Oversight Panel in 2008. After extensive interviews with Entergy, that Panel decided that Vermont Yankee could run for 20 more years if 80 modifications were made.  Entergy agreed to make those changes.  During follow-up consulting to the Vermont State Legislature that began in 2009, Fairewinds Associates, Inc (paralegal services and expert witness testimony firm founded by Maggie Gundersen in 2003) was contracted to continue oversight of the Entergy and VY. As Mr. Gundersen reviewed documents regarding VY, he uncovered new documents discussing the buried and underground pipes at VY, which were non-existent according to Entergy’s testimony to the Vermont State Legislature. Several follow-up hearings and discussions occurred during which Entergy maintained that Fairewinds Associates was lying and no buried and/or underground pipes were on the Vermont Yankee site – that is until January when those non-existent buried and underground pipes leaked Tritium and other radioactive isotopes!  Once again, no one from Entergy or its million dollar law firm was arrested – handcuffed – or harassed for what they claim were misstatements, and no criminal charges were filed against Entergy for legal maneuvering. 

Four years ago Fairewinds was identifying flaws of the San Onofre Nuclear Plant in California that lead to the plant’s closure.  Not coincidentally, the Fairewinds site was hit by a massive DDOS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack similar to the one that recently hit the United States Internet infrastructure as well as Twitter, The New York Times, and many other online corporations.  When this happened to the Fairewinds Energy Education website in 2013, it was down for almost a week and some material was never recoverable.  The website of another expert testifying about the lies to ratepayers by San Onofre was also attacked, and his sites were offline for more than 2-weeks.  The perpetrators were never identified.

Now, it appears that the atomic power industry and its supporters are striking out against environmental watchdogs in an even more public display of their wealth and power for abuse of public health and welfare.  In Fairewinds’ Newsletter News Stories section, read about the fake green (Astroturf) hit squad confronting and maligning NEIS (Nuclear Energy Information Service), one of the finest nuclear watchdog groups in America.  This is sure sign of the desperation facing the nuclear industry with their aging decrepit atomic power reactors on financial ropes and nearing closure – when these corporations do not have adequate funding to decommission and dismantle these leaking nukes or the technology to store thousands of tons of spent nuclear fuel for a quarter of a million years.

Fairewinds In The News:


The University of Vermont’s (UVM) Center for Research on Vermont has officially announced Arnie Gundersen is one of five new Community Research Fellows for the upcoming 2017 academic year.

The UVM Fellowship role is designed to provide an important link between the greater Vermont community and the research conducted at UVM by its students, staff, and faculty. The aim of this fellowship role is to use the professional resources in Vermont to create unique “research that provides original knowledge to the world and research that adds to understanding of the state’s social, economic, cultural and physical environment.”

“Growing our connections to the eco-system of Vermont, fostering and expanding those connections to this amazing place we live and work in is an essential mission of the Center”, William Falls, the current Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences which has housed the Center for Research on Vermont for the past 40 years, said in the announcement.

Fairewinds Energy Education has hosted eight academic interns from the University of Vermont, so Mr. Gundersen is excited to be officially affiliated with UVM. The Fairewinds Crew looks forward to fostering this connection and interaction as well as making quality atomic power energy education available on campus and in the greater UVM community.

NEC and Movie:

Fairewinds President Maggie Gundersen and Fairewinds Chief Engineer Arnie Gundersen have been on the road! The two spoke at the 45th annual members meeting of the New England Coalition on Nuclear Pollution (NEC) on Saturday, October 22, addressing the flawed myth of nuclear power as well as the long-term radiation and environmental justice issues facing many communities living near these aged atomic power reactor sites that are beginning the slow process of decommissioning, dismantlement, and atomic waste storage as Entergy has begun at its Vermont Yankee (VY) site.


The full-length documentary film Power Struggle directed and produced by Turning Tide Production’s Robbie Leppzer and featuring Fairewinds President Maggie Gundersen and Fairewinds Chief Engineer Arnie Gundersen will show on Thursday, November 3 at the Latchis Theater in Brattleboro, Vermont. The 104-minute movie that chronicles the conflict surrounding the re-licensing of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant is scheduled to air on HBO sometime next year according to Director Leppzer. In the film, Chief Engineer Arnie Gundersen shares his experience as a nuclear expert, a whistleblower, and as an appointed member of the Vermont Oversight Panel that delved deep into various problems at the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. It was Mr. Gundersen’s insight that led to the discovery of leaky underground pipes at the plant after Entergy insisted that no such pipes were in existence. Including coverage of the 11-day, 126 mile walk carried out by concerned citizens during the dead of winter from Brattleboro to the Vermont Legislature in Montpelier in order to lobby against the re-licensing of the plant, Power Struggle shows the commitment and power of those who stand in their truth. The film also includes scenes and interviews with world renown anti-nuclear advocate and truth-speaker, Dr. Helen Caldicott.

Energy News: 

Midwest Energy News:

Following Exelon’s announcement that it is planning to close two of the six atomic power reactor sites in the Chicago, Illinois area, a pro-nuclear group deceptively called “Environmental Progress” began protesting the decision, demanding that the decrepit reactors remain open.

Michael Shellenberger (or as the crew here calls him: Shillenberger), who has close ties with nuclear industry proponents, founded the so-called environmental organization named “Environmental Progress”.

In the nuke industry’s effort to claim energy funds for themselves, Environmental Progress staged outside the ELPC (Environmental Law & Policy Center), a growing environmental organization and renewable energy developer that Shellenberger claims to be “a roadblock” to passage of proposed state legislation that “could provide hundreds of millions of dollars in guaranteed revenue for Exelon’s nuclear plants.”

 While constantly denouncing donations from renewable energy companies to the ELPC, calling those donations “unethical”, Shellenberger meanwhile accepts a variety of pro-nuke funding, including six-figure donations for some of his work from the Pritzker Innovation Fund. The film Pandora’s Promise, which was heavily funded by the Pritzker Innovation Fund and in which Shellenberger himself appears, was created to promote atomic power and instill doubt about the harmful effects from nuclear power plant radioactive releases.

With the support of philanthropist Rachel Pritzker and famed climate scientist James Hansen, Shellenberger calls for financial support [subsidies] to two uneconomical and ageing atomic reactors in a region that currently generates 40 percent MORE electricity than is needed in the entire area.  This action makes no sense, except that the nuclear power industry is looking for significant amounts of money in subsidies to the atomic reactor owners.

 “That’s tone-deaf to the people who have fought for civil rights for millions of people. This group is instead apparently demanding that Illinois consumers pay a billion dollar rate hike for Exelon’s benefit while our schools, kids’ programs, public transit districts and mental health programs are suffering harsh funding cuts. Let’s show some common sense here,” said the ELPC in response to the protesters demands.

As Dave Lundy, executive director of the BEST [Better Energy Solutions for Tomorrow] non-profit coalition that opposes nuke subsidies said, “Gandhi was marching against the British in an attempt to break a monopoly, and these guys are marching for the monopolists… I’m sure most of these marchers are very well-meaning people. Unfortunately they know absolutely nothing about the Illinois energy market. Illinois currently generates 40 percent more electricity than we need.”


For the first time ever, humans have recorded an average yearly Carbon Dioxide (CO2) count of more than 400 parts per million (ppm). Fairewinds Energy Education reported on this issue in Nuclear Power’s Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Smoke Screen, a one-year energy study that researched the accumulation of human-released, heat trapping, CO2 in the atmosphere through industry, transportation and other fossil fuel burning sources has been attributed to rising global temperatures. 

350.org, the environmental organization created by Vermont environmentalist Bill McKibben is based on climate models that indicate it would be in humankinds best interests to keep global carbon levels down below 350 parts per million to mitigate climate change. Since these scientific discoveries were unveiled, humans have continued generating even more carbon per year in order to meet the world’s growing energy demand, thus only adding to carbon buildup.

Although this trend of growing carbon emissions has begun to level out as new technologies create new sources of carbon-free energy and increase energy efficiency, even if there were substantial efforts to control and reduce the world’s carbon emissions, the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere will not fall below 400 parts per million for at least several decades.

While the nuke industry wants you to believe that atomic power reactors are an effective way to mitigate climate change, Fairewinds report (hyperlink) shows why nuclear industry promotion is a CO2 smokescreen. We ask you to learn how can people worldwide can spend less and achieve a clean energy future!