Letter to Editor on Vt. Yankee
Published 7/10/06 Worcester T. & G
By Hattie Nestel
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  Although we've been told nuclear power is safe, there are many reasons to doubt that is true.

  For example, a decision in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has found that "acts of terrorism are not remote and speculative" at nuclear power plants. They opposed the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, NRC, in this landmark decision and revoked a permit which would have allowed new radioactive waste storage structures to be built at a nuclear power plant involved in the lawsuit.

  Nuclear power plants routinely release radioactive gases such as tritium into the air and water as a gas or as water. No economically feasible technology exists to filter tritium from a nuclear power plant's gaseous and liquid emissions to the environment. Although the NRC has created "permissible" levels of radioactive exposure, there are really no safe levels. Tritium emits beta particles and once inhaled or swallowed can bombard cells causing cellular mutations. Exposure to tritium has been clinically proven to cause cancer, genetic mutations and birth defects in laboratory animals. Tritium releases have been found at so many reactor sites, including Yankee Rowe, that the NRC has created a task force to investigate potential tritium releases at all 103 U.S. reactor sites.

  State borders do not stop radioactive fallout. Chernobyl's accident in 1986 released radiation that circled the globe twice. Over 200 times the amount of radiation was released from Chernobyl than in the 1945 bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. No insurance policy covers a nuclear accident.

  There is no safe containment of radioactive releases from power plants. The Department of Energy report, as reported in the Las Vegas Sun, March 15,2006, predicts that up to 60 uncontrolled nuclear reactions will take place inside nuclear waste casks stored at any of the 103 power reactors across the U.S. should any of the casks corrode. Highly radioactive casks from nuclear waste are already known to be decaying and leaking. For example at Hanford, Washington one hundred and seventy seven tanks are sunk 55 feet into the earth. At least 67 of them have already leaked. At least a million gallons of deadly waste has already escaped from the containers. Leakage has also occurred in Concord, Ma. and Rowe, Mass threatening both the Assabet River and the Deerfield River with radioactive materials. Concord, Ma. has the highest thyroid cancer rates in the state from Nuclear Metals Inc. and the Deerfield River communities have an increase of 4.5% in Down Syndrome Births from Rowe Yankee. The nuclear industry and the NRC always compare a simple X-ray with the radioactive releases at nuclear power plants. However, medical X-rays are very short bursts of external radiation and radioactive releases from power plants, when inhaled, or ingested have grave medical consequences. For example, the radioactive iodine-131 can enter the lungs and destroy the thyroid gland or cause thyroid cancer. Although the workers wear protective clothing, nothing can decontaminate their lungs. Emissions from power plants permeate our air and water on a daily bases.

  Why then would anyone want to depend on nuclear power when safe, clean, affordable and sustainable energies are available? Both solar and wind energy are obviously safe options.

  The U.S. Pacific Northwest Laboratory estimated that land-based wind across the U.S. is capable of producing almost 1.5 times current U.S. annual electricity use. Solar energy panels now have improved technology that have produced cheap, flexible thin film panels, which are extremely efficient.

  Senator Ted Kennedy is helping to move the Cape Wind farms in Nantucket Sounds through the regulatory process. This 130-turbine offshore wind farm is the first of its kind in the U.S. It will not deplete our natural resources, destroy our environment or expose us to the ever-present dangers inherent in nuclear power. Let's commend Senator Kennedy for helping with this important, environmentally safe energy source.

  We can also reduce dependence on nuclear power by using energy efficient products and practices. The U.S. Office of Technology Assessment estimated we could reduce our electricity usage by 20-45% through efficiency including energy efficient refrigerators, lighting systems and building insulation.

  Our children are inheriting a radioactive, dangerous world. They will pay the price both physically and financially for this lethal waste that is piling up everywhere there is a nuclear reactor or uranium processing facility.

  We need to be responsible now to stop relicensing at both of Entergy's old and dangerous nuclear time bombs. Vermont Yankee and Pilgrim both must be shut down and it will take determination and responsible action to make this happen.


To download an RTF copy click here.

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