Mon., Sept. 26
Nuclear New England
(Original air date September 26, 2011)
During this show the “relative seismic risk” of the Pilgrim nuclear plant, compared to other plants in the U.S., was mentioned. However, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission makes no such distinction for nuclear power plants.
The news about the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant has been bleak. Radioactive elements have been found in the Connecticut River (and the fish in that river). Critics are pinning blame on the nuclear plant. Meanwhile, company headquarters in Vermont endured a fire this past week at the hands of an as-yet unidentified arsonist, and Yankee's owner, Entergy, is embroiled in a lawsuit against the state of Vermont. All this comes as Yankee looks to renew its license for another 20 years.
There's similar debate across New England as the Seabrook, NH nuclear power plant and the Pilgrim plant in Plymouth, MA apply for license renewal. But in light of the Fukushima-Daiichi meltdown in Japan, citizens and regulators alike worry about the nuclear plants here, in our own backyard, that are of the same design and vintage as Japan's. Could it happen again? What about less-catastrophic leaks and contaminations?
Nuclear power makes up a good percentage of the region's energy portfolio, and when facilities are maintained and waste stored correctly, nuclear energy is a safe source of power. Debate has been fierce on both sides. Today we hear from a variety of experts.
Dave Gram is a reporter for the Associated Press in Vermont, and he's covered Vermont Yankee extensively.
Ian Hutchinson is a professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering at MIT, specializing in plasma physics and controlled fusion energy.
Sandy Levine is a Vermont-based senior attorney for the Conservation Law Foundation.
Mike Twomey is vice president of external affairs for Entergy Corporation, the company that owns Vermont Yankee and Pilgrim nuclear power plants.