Article published Mar 6, 2006
Guinea pigs lack nuclear answers
I awoke from a sound sleep at 3:30, the morning after the public meeting with the NRC regarding the process for the relicensing of Vermont Yankee for an additional 20 years, and the ways that the public will be able to participate in this process. Most of us in that room were painfully aware that this means 20 additional years of production of the deadliest waste, increased in volume due to the simultaneously proposed 20 percent increase in power. We also knew that not only will there be more waste produced, it will not leave our backyard for many years, as was originally anticipated and promised.
I was given the task of holding an audio-mic to record each speaker for videographer, Robbie Lepzer, who generously donated his time and expertise to professionally record this event. This forced me to be close to each and every articulate, informed, impassioned speaker, seeing tears form, papers tremble, and despite such built-up exasperation and anguish, hearing words full of knowledge and sincerity fall together eloquently.
What woke me from a sound sleep was the question I wish I had asked when one particularly well-informed gentleman spoke longer than some could withstand. When the facilitator attempted repeatedly to get him to "wrap up," I wanted desperately to take the mic and reduce his impressive speech into this one simple question that, like all others asked that evening, was not answered. I would have said this:
"We, the guinea pigs of Windham County, above, below and beyond, want to know one thing. If we are to be subjected to this mounting pile of radioactive waste in our backyard, with no promise of its removal, and must wait and see what happens when this retirement-aged reactor is given the ultimate uprate without a prior stress-test, then why can't we at least be given the reassurance afforded by the much more thorough Independent Safety Assessment that we've all been squeaking about for the past few years? Is it the cost? Please, just spell out the answer in terms that make sense."
Unfortunately, that question, though actually gleaned from this individual's speech, was not answered to any of our satisfaction, but brushed off with smiles and pats on our furry little heads.
In the face of the profits to be made by a corporation from Louisiana, while we little piggies are subjected to this potentially deadly experiment, why can't they at least grant us this one last request; shell out a fraction of their money, if only to reassure our well-informed (not simply emotional) little selves, and allow such an inspection to occur?
I'm off for a furious spin in the little wheely thing in my cage after that meeting, maybe chew up some paper towel rolls and stuff.