Valley Reporter Q&A, Round 3

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Sep 12, 2012 No Comments ›› Nick

Here are Maxine’s responses to the second series of the Valley Reporter’s questions to candidates:

1. Explain the role, if any, that you see Vermont Yankee Nuclear, has in the state?

Vermont Yankee (VY) has a minimal role in Vermont.  Since March 2012, Vermont no longer purchases power from VY due to VY’s failure to offer our utilities a reasonable price.

Its role is primarily detrimental.  It is endangering our groundwater and river health. The storage of high-level radioactive waste on site poses a grave risk.  While the plant does provide jobs, given the unreliability of the plant, those jobs are tenuous. Further, Vermont lost VY’s 12 million dollar annual contribution to Vermont Clean Energy Development Fund when it stopped selling power in Vermont.

VY is one of the oldest plants in the world.  It was not intended to exist this long. It is increasingly unreliable. Its existence continues to raise the temperature of the river, harming this vital resource. As the radioactive waste continues to accumulate, Vermont is increasing at risk.  Given its negative role, it should be shut down.

2.  How would you rate Vermont’s nuclear disaster preparedness? What would you do differently?

Federal law governs here. The Department Of Public Safety, in accordance with federal law, executes Vermont’s Radiological Emergency Response Plan.

Federal law specifies 4 criteria defining emergencies that require VY to initiate a response. Given that Entergy has not been forthcoming with information, I am concerned about compliance.

While the state conducts required quarterly drills, we cannot predict what would happen during an actual disaster.  The evacuation zone encompasses a 10-mile radius.  I question if this is enough, but federal law determines the zone.

Vermont can ask for the quarterly drills to be more comprehensive. I would like to see Vermont develop a process for public input for the drills.

This question goes beyond a nuclear disaster. Effective preparedness must include a robust public transportation system, something Vermont lacks. Continued funding of our EMS is critical for any disaster relief. Ultimately, shutting down the plant and properly disposing of 40+ years’ of waste best avoids any disaster.

3. Tropical Storm Irene showed that many villages and downtowns next to rivers and lakes in Vermont at a high risk of damage from future flooding and that building for future resiliency might require locating outside of potential flood paths. How would you reconcile Vermont’s compact village settlement in historically developed areas with building for flood resiliency?

The Valley is a model for such reconciliation. Over the past year it has incorporated flood risks and lessons learned from Irene into planning. Local groups and towns are collaborating in efforts of watershed work and planning that demonstrate flood resilience.

A comprehensive approach, such as these is vital: conserving land for changing rivers and storing flood waters, purchasing conservation easements, building with mitigation standards for roads, culverts and buildings, land management practices that reduce the force of flood waters, slowing down flows by reforestation in flood plains, and cover crop use and tree planting in riparian buffers.

With climate change comes more frequent and severe storms. We cannot move villages, but need to work to protect our rivers, land and the vitality of our community.

As your state representative, I look forward to continuing my State House work to support polices that further resiliency.