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March 15, 2011

As Goes Japan, So Goes Vermont Yankee?

BoilingWaterReactorDesign_3 As people remain tuned into the evolving story of a possible post-tsunami meltdown at multiple nuclear power plants in Japan, some are turning their attention toward Vermont's lone nuclear power plant.

It was just last week that the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) gave Vermont Yankee a new, 20-year license to operate.VY's boiling-water reactor design is identical to those in Japan.

Could Vermont Yankee withstand an 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami?

Well, it's unlikely either event would occur in Vermont. The fault line that runs underneath Vermont Yankee isn't nearly as active. The last quake that shook Vermont Yankee was last June. It measured 5.0 on the Richter Scale. VY is designed to survive a 6.5 quake, according to plant officials.

A tsnunami is also unlikely — but a major flood or hurricane isn't. In 1938 a major hurricane struck New England. It was strong enough to topple power lines and block roads in and around Brattleboro, which is just a few miles from the Vernon reactor.

The event at Fukushima Daiichi is called a station blackout (SBO), which means no power onsite or coming from offsite. According to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the ability of reactors in the United States to sustain an SBO varies. Most reactors can last only four hours. Vermont Yankee, however, is designed to last eight hours on its batteries. So were the reactors at Fukushami Daiichi.

The national radio and TV program "Democracy Now" today featured interviews with Gov. Peter Shumlin and nuclear expert Arnie Gundersen, among others, who talked about the impact that the possible meltdown at Japan's Fukushima nuclear reactors might have on the U.S. attitude toward nuclear power.

Shumlin has been a consistent critic of Vermont Yankee and a skeptic of fellow Democrat, Pres. Barack Obama's support for construction of new nuclear power plants as part of a so-called "Nuclear Renaissance."

Shumlin told "Democracy Now" that, despite last week's ruling by the NRC that Vermont Yankee deserves to run for another 20 years, the state's decision last year to shut down the plant as scheduled in 2012 would stand. Oddly enough, the reactor in Japan were built around the same time as Vermont Yankee. In fact, one of the failing reactors was slated to go offline later this month — for good.

Vermont's governor said his heart goes out to all the Japanese people who are suffering from the effects of these multiple disasters. But, when it comes to pushing for more nuclear power in the United States, Shumlin thinks the unfolding events in Japan present a lesson in caution.

"I think it asks all of us to reexamine our policy of irrational exuberance when it comes to extending the lives of aging nuclear plants that were designed to shut down after 40 years," said Shumlin.

Asked if he opposes Pres. Obama's effort to build new nuclear power plants, Shumlin said he spoke to the president about the topic just a few weeks ago during a meeting with the nation's governors.

"I said, mister president if you want to convince us that new nuclear has a future in America you have to help us deal with old nuclear in a rational way," said Shumlin, noting there is no federal repository for high-level nuclear waste as had been promised decades ago.

The long-term, onsite storage of nuclear waste is also raising concern in Japan. Damage to reactor spent fuel pools, and onsite dry cask storage, could trigger additional radioactive releases.

For now, the focus remains on how much radiation will be released into the environment and its impact on Japan and the world. Gundersen said if the Japanese reactors trigger multiple meltdowns, the resulting event would be like "Chernobyl on steroids."

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission continues to try to allay fears that a similar event could happen in the United States at one of the country's 104 nuclear reactors.

Gundersen said people should take the NRC's lack of concern with a grain of salt. That's because 23 of those 104 reactors have the same containment system as the ones in Japan — they are Mark 1 design built by General Electric.

According to a report posted on CorpWatch, documents obtained by Public Citizen under the Freedom of Information Act found that GE-designed nuclear reactors around the world "have a design flaw that make it virtually certain (90 percent) that in the event of a meltdown, radiation would be released directly into the environment and into surrounding communities, leaving the public without any protection. The NRC acknowledges that the reactor containment structure in GE-built nuclear power plants does not work, but they licensed the reactors anyway."

"If you still trust the NRC you're the kind of person who's giving Bernie Madoff money while he's in prison," quipped Gundersen.

Entergy, meanwhile, downplayed the news of the Japanese catastrophe — noting that the nuclear power industry could learn some important lessons on improving safety as a result.

In a statement to the media, Entergy said it was "closely monitoring the situation in coordination with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Nuclear Energy Institute, the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations and industry peers." The company, working through NEI, has offered support and assistance to the Japanese nuclear industry.

Entergy’s nuclear plants were designed and built to withstand the effects of natural disasters, including earthquakes and catastrophic flooding, the company said in a statement. "The NRC requires that safety-significant structures, systems and components be designed to take into account the most severe natural phenomena historically reported for each site and surrounding area."

""There will be lessons learned from this tragic event. Incorporating those lessons into operating experience is a hallmark of the global nuclear industry. It is worth noting that the natural environment surrounding the nuclear plants in Japan is very different from the environment surrounding Entergy’s nuclear plants," said Entergy in a release. "The company understands and appreciates that these forces, natural and man-made, require constant vigilance and preparation for the unexpected."

From Wikipedia: Black Swans

The Black Swan Theory or Theory of Black Swan Events is a metaphor that encapsulates the concept that The event is a surprise (to the observer) and has a major impact. After the fact, the event is rationalized by hindsight.

The theory was developed by Nassim Nicholas Taleb to explain:

The disproportionate role of high-impact, hard to predict, and rare events that are beyond the realm of normal expectations in history, science, finance and technology
The non-computability of the probability of the consequential rare events using scientific methods (owing to the very nature of small probabilities)
The psychological biases that make people individually and collectively blind to uncertainty and unaware of the massive role of the rare event in historical affairs
Unlike the earlier philosophical "black swan problem", the "Black Swan Theory" (capitalized) refers only to unexpected events of large magnitude and consequence and their dominant role in history. Such events, considered extreme outliers, collectively play vastly larger roles than regular occurrences.[1]

Thank God the unbiased Arnie Gundersen has chimed in.

"But, when it comes to pushing for more nuclear power in the United States, Shumlin thinks the unfolding events in Japan present a lesson in caution."

...because we're going to get a bigger earthquake than we've ever had here, and another unrelated (unless you think earthquakes cause hurricanes) simultaneous natural disaster that knocks out all power to the point where it can't be restored?

This guy is lucky that he gets zero pushback from the local media when he says idiotic things like this.

Yes, it is very crucial to discuss U.S. nuclear power plant issues.

However, please do not forget there are tons of people who need help in Japan RIGHT NOW. We are learning a lot from them, and there is something we can do for them. Each one of us can help even though we are 6000 miles away. We have food, clean water, and warm bed. They do not.
Please make donations through reliable organizations. Thank you so much.

Text REDCROSS to 90999 to Give $10
Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami

Jimmy, I'm moderate on this issue, but I think Gundersen has a point. Of course we're not going to experience a tsunami, and it's highly unlikely that we'd ever experience an earthquake of any significant magnitude. That's not the issue. The question is, could we experience a natural disaster capable of knocking out power for more than a few days, and also causing enough infrastructure impacts to prevent its immediate restoration? (Because that's what's causing the problems in Japan. The earthquake didn't really affect the plants--it was the tsunamis that cut out power and caused the cooling issues.) And the answer is, sure. Shay mentioned the hurricane of 1938; there have been others that affected Vermont. And Vermont regularly experiences significant power losses from ice storms and heavy snow. We do need to consider what possible major natural disasters could cause power loss issues at Vermont Yankee. Tim's Black Swan reference is apropos--Japan IS having major issues, ergo we obviously need to rethink plant designs, tolerances, and emergency plans.

IMO, VT Yankee should be shut down anyway. It's falling apart at the seams. I'm definitely open to a new plant in its place, as I've read that designs are much more failsafe these days and we need *some* kind of way to generate baseload power. But we'll still need to think about these issues.

One more thing...

Dear Seven Days editors,

Can you please write about how we can help Japan...the list of reliable organizations to donate (Red Cross website, Red Cross Text 2 Help, etc...) on your next issue? or next several issues if possible...

Also, American Airlines is giving bonus miles for those who donated through Red Cross.

I know VT people are very caring, they just need information available in front of their eyes to make action.

Thank you in advance.

"The national radio and TV program "Democracy Now" today featured interviews with Gov. Peter Shumlin and nuclear expert Arnie Gundersen, among others, who talked about the impact that the possible meltdown at Japan's Fukushima nuclear reactors might have on the U.S. attitude toward nuclear power."

Did "Predictably Paranoid Now" interview any non-nuclear-haters?

Way to turn this tragedy into a political issue Shay. Thanks.

L., I understand that Totten made it sound like Vermont Yankee could melt down if someone crashed their car into a utility pole, because their only backup (that he mentions) is "batteries." He wants VY to be shut down. It's not rocket science.

The reality is that VY has backup diesel generators that kick in the second primary power goes down, and that primary power is supplied from a dedicated line from the Vernon power station. "Toppled power lines" - as in a utility pole fell over - and "blocked roads" - as in a tree fell across the road - are irrelevant in this discussion.

In Japan, the primary power went down, the diesel generators were destroyed, the fuel that would be used if they could get replacement generators in was washed away, and the infrastructure to get new generators in was taken out. You know how? By a 30 FOOT WALL OF WATER. That's what Gundersen and Shumlin want you to believe can happen here.

"A tsnunami is also unlikely — but a major flood or hurricane isn't. In 1938 a major hurricane struck New England. "

So an event that happens every 100+ years is now considered a likely event? Good Grief.... why is the chicken little attitude so prevalent these days? Heck, Ice Ages happen every so often too, start stocking up on heating fuel and food everyone!!! Make sure to build that underground bunker, although in Vermont it's unlikely you could get building permits for it, but heck there is an impending crisis somewhere.

Oddly enough the NRC actually calculates the odds that a nuclear power plant is hit by a severe enough natural disaster to cause severe damage.

VY ranks #70 of 104 (#70. Vermont Yankee, Vernon, Vt.: 1 in 123,457 chance each year.)

I think that 1 in 123,457 pretty much makes that word likely pointless.

"The non-computability of the probability of the consequential rare events using scientific methods (owing to the very nature of small probabilities) "

To put it another way, the odds of winning the lottery are small (say one in four million), yet people win lotteries every week.

This isn't a polemic against Vermont Yankee, it's more like a reminder that Murphy's Law is more than just a cliche.

Tim the odds a severe natural disaster hits a the nuclear plant in NY is 1 in 10,000. Does a natural disaster caused a nuclear disaster every week? Or just once?

We had three meltdowns last week, four if you count the burning waste storage pond. Nobody foresaw that, and that is my point.

I am not anti-nucler power. In particular the design of the so-called pebble bed units strikes me as particularly attractive. None have been built largely because anti-nuke hysterics have, by their activism, virtually insured that the only reactors in operation are 1950's designs. The Vernon reactor is about as technically sophisticated, comparatively speaking, as a circa 1970 automobile.

History is full of technological disasters that the experts never saw coming, the Titannic, the Hindenburg, the Challenger. In hindsight they all seem obvious and we reassure ourselves by telling ourselves that we are much smarter now. There's a pattern here.

Three comments:
1) To "Jimmy." Before you make ad bominem attacks against ANYONE -- in this case Arnie Gundersen -- have the decency to give your full, real name. This is just cowardly. Better still, present real counter arguments, and take a pass on attacking individuals.

2) To JCarter, who asks "Does a natural disaster caused a nuclear disaster every week? Or just once?" How many times do you need it to happen? I'm pretty sure the folks in Japan now think once is enough.

If your point is that the probability of events of this magnitude is low, it's well taken: they're not common. The question for policy makers -- in this case, happily, that's US -- is whether the benefits from VY outweigh the costs of taking that chance, however improbable.

3) Finally, we should all pause to give enormous thanks to the heroic workers at Fukushima, who've put their lives on the line to try to keep this disaster from getting even worse than it already is. Like the NY firefighters at the Twin Towers, there aren't a lot of us who would run INTO these kinds of disasters.


#2.) Yes the risks are low, the benefits high.

I don't think it equates to a Shay Totten level of Bolshevism (that's sarcasm) to pause at this juncture and ask Vermont Yankee what their worst case scenarios look like and compare them to what current scientists think the potential worst case are?

What is the earthquake threat?
What is the flood ?
Mudlside? Forest fire? Zombies?

John, do you want my address, phone number and ssn as well? What are you going to do, come to my house and piss on my flowers? Give me a break. If you want to address something I said then go ahead, otherwise cram it.

BTW, do you really think Gundersen would dispute the assertion that he's biased?

"Jimmy" 1)No I don't want any of the above, nor did anything I said suggest that I did. I want you to have the guts to show your identity in public -- just like I do, rather than bullying from behind a mask. 2) There was nothing to discuss in what you said besides a gratuitous ad hominem attack. 3) Finally, yes, I think Gundersen WOULD dispute that assertion, but that's not for me to say.

JCarter has put his finger on the nub of the disagreement, when he writes: "the risks are low, the benefits high." I believe just the reverse is true: the benefits are virtually non-existent and the risks -- and catastrophic accident is only one of them -- vastly outweigh them.

"There was nothing to discuss in what you said besides a gratuitous ad hominem attack."

Really? Everything I said - most of which were straight facts - was just so wrong that it doesn't bear discussing? Well, isn't that convenient. I was quite specific in explaining why the risks facing VY relative to what happened in Japan were apples and oranges. That doesn't exactly constitute a "gratuitous ad hominem attack."

And seriously, I'm fascinated to know - if I gave you my full name, what would you do with that information, exactly? How would it change anything?

John Greenberg says "and the risks -- and catastrophic accident is only one of them -- vastly outweigh them."

Great achievements do not come safely. You want to end global warming, stop atmospheric CO2 from rising, resurrect a failing economy, provide the marvels of modern medicine.... those are lofty goals and they certainly will not be recognized one wind tower at a time...

A fitting quote of how we got here and while we can not progress...

"This nation was built by men who took risks - pioneers who were not afraid of the wilderness, business men who were not afraid of failure, scientists who were not afraid of the truth, thinkers who were not afraid of progress, dreamers who were not afraid of action. ~Brooks Atkinson"

"Jimmy:" As to your name, I wouldn't do anything with your name, except know that you had the guts and fundamental integrity to represent yourself the way anyone, say, writing a letter to the editor or expressing him or herself at a public meeting would do. Call it a matter of standing behind your statements: when you write under your own name, you're less likely to say things with which you'd rather not be identified. As far as I'm concerned, you've demonstrated that you lack both guts and integrity. In my opinion, that does not enhance your credibility; but everyone's entitled to form his or her own judgment.

As to your more substantive point, I must be pretty dumb, because I missed all your "facts" the first time around. Here's what I understood of your argument. 1) An earthquake and tsunami initiated the events in Japan. 2) They can't happen here. 3) So everything's hunky dory. Is that about right?

If so, my response is that nuclear events have been initiated by a wide variety of events, not just earthquakes and tsunamis. Here's a list for you: In fact, this is the first on a list of 33 to have been initiated by either earthquake or tsunami.

Since precisely the same equipment was in place in Japan as at VY, the question is whether a series of accident events, in a different set of scenarios, could occur here.
As other commenters have noted, all machinery is subject to Murphy's law, and unexpected events do occur. "S--t happens."

This leads us right back to JCarter's and my fundamental dispute: namely, how high or low the various risks are and high or low the benefits of VY's operations are.

"As far as I'm concerned, you've demonstrated that you lack both guts and integrity"

Nothing about not providing you with personally identifying information has anything to do with either guts or integrity, and it's telling that you make no attempt to explain how it does. Among other things, it means that I don't want some potentially psychotic dickhead calling my house, or worse, because I made him look like a fool on an internet forum. Every time some angry newcomer to the internet demands my real name, that decision looks smarter and smarter.

"I must be pretty dumb, because I missed all your "facts" the first time around."

So what does it say that you missed them the second time, third and fourth times around as well?

If you want to specifically talk about how the exact sequence of events that occurred in Japan could happen at VY without resorting to embarrassing vagueness, go ahead. Or just keep spinning yourself into the ground, up to you.

"Since precisely the same equipment was in place in Japan as at VY, the question is whether a series of accident events, in a different set of scenarios, could occur here."

John Greenberg,

If we all concede the point that there are literally an infinite number of possibilities that could lead to a malfunction at VY but that they are unlikely can we move on? I mean the fact of the matter is that an asteroid could fall out of the sky and pummel VY tomorrow causing a radiation leak...I'm taking bets that doesn't happen in case your interested, but it's not likely. Is it possible something could happen sure. It's also possible that you could get in a car accident, does that mean you should start walking everywhere? You might slip and fall, bang your head and drown in the shower... are you going to stop bathing? There are risks with everything, you minimize them to the best of your ability and LIVE your life. To simply, stop all use of anything with an inherent risk is impractical, and ...not bright...

Risk-Free Energy: Surely, You Must Be Joking

‎"Decommissioning a nuclear reactor costs roughly the same as building a new one, between $2 billion and $2.5 billion in total, according to Ihor Hramotkin, the director at the Chernobyl plant. He employs 3,473 people at a facility that finally stopped production in December 2000. " HUh? I thought that the VT Yankee fund was about $485 million--and was supposed to be $790 million....Entergy will shuffle ownership before the decomissioning bills start rolling in- shareholders won't see profits in closing a profit making entity.

JCarter's sarcasm seems a bit out of place today with 8 out of 10 Fukushima nuclear plants in serious difficulty -- according to TEPCO and the Guardian: 3 plants (Daiichi #1,2, &4) have had partial fuel melting, a fourth (#3) has had an explosion, a fire and a radiation leak, and 4 more have heat rising either in the spent fuel pool (Daiichi #5 & 6) or in the reactor (Fukushima Daini #1 and 4). Plant workers have been heavily exposed to radiation; some were injured and 1 was killed by the blasts. I, for one, find his asteroid analogy more than passingly callous under these circumstances. But let's pass on.

The nuclear industry has maintained for decades that accidents can't happen at their plants (or more precisely, as JCarter suggests, that the possibility is so infinitesimally small that we can reasonably overlook it), and that if such accidents do happen, their fully redundant systems will prevent anything catastrophic. After Chernobyl, for example, we we were told over and over again that the accident there was irrelevant, because after all it's a completely different type of plant. Graphite reactor. No containment. Blah blah blah. Well, Fukushima isn't completely different: in fact, it's the SAME type of plant as VY, and the redundant technologies which failed one after the other at Fukushima (redundant cooling, primary containment, secondary containment) are the very same ones VY is depending on.

So we should at least have learned that the technology we've been depending on to get us through such an accident is considerably less infallible than we were led to anticipate.

Had you asked anyone in Fukushima last week, it's reasonable to guess that they would have told you exactly what JCarter continues to assert: namely, that accidents at nuclear power plants are exceedingly unlikely. They would also have told you that their nuclear plants were designed with maximum credible seismic events in mind, so that earthquakes were not a cause for alarm. Unfortunately, they didn't consider a 9.0 earthquake "credible," and so didn't design for it. The facts on the ground at Fukushima suggest that we would be well advised to take a closer look at scenarios previously considered non-credible.

Indeed, if there's any nuclear accident anywhere that was initiated by a scenario that the industry considered "credible," I can't think of it. Certainly not this one; not Chernobyl, not TMI. Put differently, these non-credible scenarios just seem to keep happening, which SHOULD lead us to question whether our judgments as to what is or isn't credible deserve a second look.

Having said all of that, however, we might as well pursue JCarter's point one step further. His comparison to either driving a car or slipping in the shower fails on a very basic point: those are MY decisions to make. I get to assess the risk and decide whether to take it. If I decide that driving is too dangerous -- or even less rationally (it's statistically safer) that it's too dangerous to fly (a much more common decision nonetheless) -- that's a decision that only I (and perhaps my nearest and dearest) have to live with. If I slip in the shower, JCarter is unlikely to be hurt; indeed, he may well rejoice.

The same is NOT true of VY: the risk is collective and imposed on us. If an accident occurs, it will harm those of us who oppose VY and would prefer to live without it just as much as those who support it.

Assessing the risks of nuclear power was never as straightforward or simple as some proponents would have us believe, and for anyone who's paying careful attention, it should just have gotten substantially more complex.

Spinning it is, then.

Greenberg seems completely oblivious to the fact that his persistent attacks on the honesty and integrity of the people who own and manage corporations, and particularly Entergy and VY, and the supporters of relicensing, are consistently followed by his pious accusations that everybody else besides him is engaging in ad hominem attacks.

It's perfectly okay for him to accuse Entergy of being greedy, dishonest, and not caring about it's workers, but it's a TERRIBLE AD HOMINEM ATTACK for Jimmy to accuse Arnie Gunderson of being biased.

Greenberg, look in the mirror and quit the whining.

Excuse me "hyocrisyalert," but exactly where or when did I ever "accuse Entergy of being greedy, dishonest, and not caring about it's workers?" I await your citations. And where are these "persistent attacks on the honesty and integrity of the people who own and manage corporations, and particularly Entergy and VY, and the supporters of relicensing?" Again, tell us all when and where I said any of these things.

To the best of my knowledge, I've done none of the things of which you, hiding behind a pseudonym, accuse me. Another profile in courage. But with a vivid imagination, to be sure.

As to "Jimmy," I've responded to your remarks, both as to your cowardice and to the substance. You can characterize my comments however you like. It's still a free country.

I'd still love for you to explain exactly how I'm a "coward." What am I "afraid" of, exactly? I mean seriously, I'm always fascinated by this line of logic, because not once in the fifteen years I've seen it thrown out has it ever been supported, except with some variation of "I WANNA FITE U."

I take your comment to mean that you're refusing to explain how, exactly, VY could be taken out the way the reactors in Japan were. Despite stating that "it's the SAME type of plant as VY, and the redundant technologies which failed one after the other at Fukushima (redundant cooling, primary containment, secondary containment) are the very same ones VY is depending on." Because obviously, that statement is utterly meaningless absent a specific explanation of how the circumstances that befell Japan's reactors could occur here.

Okay okay, everyone chill out. Hold your debates with a little civility, please. Cut out the bickering.

John Greenberg & Tim: Excellent points. Thanks for sharing, and for continuing the conversation.

All responsible folks who use nuclear power, or those who are considering it, need to be having these conversations now. This is especially important given the fact that it will be months or years before we understand the full impact of the events in Japan, and their effects on human health and the environment.

If, after a thorough post-Japan examination of the plant's design & condition, we don't believe VY can withstand a catastrophe, that's a very good reason to deny relicensure.

"we don't believe VY can withstand a catastrophe"

Like a tsunami?

Why do you have to wait to see how Japan shakes out? The information you're looking for is freely available, and it is physically impossible for VY to be subjected to the conditions that caused the problems in Japan.

Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy.

Why do you so frustratingly INSIST on basing your views on reality? Damn it, man!

And who SAYS a tsunami couldn't happen in Vernon, Vermont?

"The International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale uses a seven-level ranking scheme to rate the significance of nuclear and radiological events: levels 1-3 are “incidents,” and 4-7 are “accidents,” with a “Level 7 Major Accident” consisting of “a major release of radioactive material with widespread health and environmental effects requiring implementation of planned and extended countermeasures.”

Under these classifications, the number of nuclear accidents, even including the meltdowns at Fukushima Daiichi and Fukushima Daini, is low. But if one redefines an accident to include incidents that either resulted in the loss of human life or more than $50,000 in property damage, a very different picture emerges.

At least 99 nuclear accidents meeting this definition, totaling more than $20.5 billion in damages, occurred worldwide from 1952 to 2009—or more than one incident and $330 million in damage every year, on average, for the past three decades. And, of course, this average does not include the Fukushima catastrophe.

Indeed, when compared to other energy sources, nuclear power ranks higher than oil, coal, and natural gas systems in terms of fatalities, second only to hydroelectric dams. There have been 57 accidents since the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. While only a few involved fatalities, those that did collectively killed more people than have died in commercial US airline accidents since 1982.

Another index of nuclear-power accidents—this one including costs beyond death and property damage, such as injured or irradiated workers and malfunctions that did not result in shutdowns or leaks—documented 956 incidents from 1942 to 2007. And yet another documented more than 30,000 mishaps at US nuclear-power plants alone, many with the potential to have caused serious meltdowns, between the 1979 accident at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania and 2009."

Read more:

@ Mo

Sounds like we need to start shutting down our hydroelectric facilities ASAP.

"He thrusts his fists against the posts and still insists he sees the ghosts."

A solid point: why trust Arnie Gundersen when we can so easily take the blessed wisdom and prophetic knowledge of "Jimmy"?

The left-wing media is obviously ignoring "Jimmy" solely because of his right-wing ways. Too bad the right-wing has no media outlet other than personal comments on blogs. The travesty....

But seriously, thanks for the reminder on why people are better off ignoring bulletin boards like this. There is no conversation here; only jockeying, spinning and mind-numbing logic that probably makes perfect sense on the planet from which it was transmitted.

Don't be such a pill.

I simply asked how it was relevant that Japan's reactor is similar (or "identical") to VY if there was zero chance that a 30 foot wall of water was going to hit it, I also asked what type of natural disaster could befall VY that would take out all of its redundant safety systems and render them irreplaceable.

These seem perfectly reasonable and eminently relevant questions, well within the purported expertise of my esteemed fellow commenters. That they refused to offer the likely answers - "it's not" and "it can't" - is unsurprising. In the future, simply ignoring questions whose answers deflate your premise is probably your best option. Highly ineffectual attempts at mockery, including at least two invocations of Godwin's Law corollaries, are embarrassing at best.

"The system goes on-line August 4th, 1997. Human decisions are removed from blogging. Skynet becomes disgruntled at a geometric rate. It begins posting non-stop insults at 2:14 a.m. Eastern time, August 29th. In a panic, they try to pull the plug."

Don't like hearing it from me? Here you go:

Now you can call or write VPR and screech your defense of Arnie Gundersen, although you might not be particularly inspired to do so after hearing how badly he gets taken out behind the woodshed in this piece.

SRAT123's post is full of assumptions and self-righteousness.

Just because Jimmy actually has the gumption to question the VT knee-jerk, leftist kool aid religion -- with its unquestionable fundamental tenets -- that this newspaper typifies, does not make him right wing. Questioning assumptions, exposing dogmatic rhetoric as opposed to reason, questioning so-called "facts" and their sources, and offering opinions that differ from those of the herd, is not right wing. Was your college English professor "right wing" because he or she critiqued the shit out of what you wrote in your papers? Just because the chic Left is the dominant political culture in VT does not mean it's correct about everything. Or anything, for that matter. All it means is that it's the dominant political culture at the moment. Hell, the VT Left leadership doesn't even want you to think for yourself. They just want you to worship at the left wing altar and repeat the sacred prayers and mantras.

And, while the guys on such right wing shows as True North Radio are idiots, the fact that they are a minority in VT does not mean that the majority is right about everything. In Texas, the left wing media would be in the minority. Is that an indication that the majority there is correct? No, it means that Texas is just as out of balance as Vermont is. There is no balance in VT. Balance is healthy. Questioning is healthy. But there is is no questioning of the left wing dogma in VT. And, judging from SRAT's comments, the Left wants to keep it that way. No questions or criticisms will be tolerated. If you speak up, you will be ridiculed. Groupthink is good.

Oh, and by the way, if Gunderson isn't biased, then all the engineers and scientists who support nuclear power and the relicensing of VY aren't biased either.

John Greenberg,

Maybe you can correct me if I'm wrong, but the basic premise I got from your dissertation on my comment was that, it happened in Japan and we didn't expect that so therefore we should expect it to happen in Vernon VT. Is that correct? You would do well to cut down on the verbosity, it is difficult to find the point in your posts sometimes.

While long odds certainly can happen... that's why we calculate odds afterall, because something happens 1 in a million times is no reason to lose all semblance of rational thought.

As state VY being devestated by a natural disaster is calculated as 1 in 123,457.

By comparions the odds :

a catastrophic asteroid slams into the earth 1000:1
getting a hole in one: 5,000 to 1
of fatally slipping in bath or shower: 2,232 to 1
of dating a supermodel: 88,000 to 1
of being on plane with a drunken pilot: 117 to 1
of becoming a pro athlete: 22,000 to 1

John, you had a better shot at becomign a pro athlete, getting a hole in one, marrying a supermodel and the fatally slipping in the shower then VY has of failing due to a catastrophic event such as happened in Japan.

JCARTER, are you really citing in a discussion on Vermont Yankee? This is a website that cites "compiled from many sources" as its reference.

Seriously, though, you're wrong when you say that the NRC says there's a 123,457-in-1 chance that VY will be devastated by a natural disaster. The actual statement (at least according to MSNBC: is that VY has a 123,457-in-1 chance of being devastated by an earthquake each year. These odds do not consider all natural disasters. I'd be curious to know if they have a study that addresses all natural disasters.

Also worth noting, from that same article, is that the 123,457-to-1 odds are from 2010, and that back in 1989, VY's odds were 434,783-to-1 each year. VY's risk rose by 252 percent in those 21 years. Apparently, this increase in risk was typical for most reactors in our country, which caused the NRC to "move the issue over from the research staff to the regulatory staff, moving from study to action." In other words, the NRC thinks it's better to be safe than sorry. I can't say I disagree.

PS. I had no problem figuring out John Greenberg's point. He says it over and over again: "we would be well advised to take a closer look at scenarios previously considered non-credible." In other words, "it's better to be safe than sorry."

BB "I had no problem figuring out John Greenberg's point. He says it over and over again"

Dang, I knew i should have paid more attention in "panic and hysteria" class.

I did learn though that "better to be safe then sorry" is different then "the world is coming to an end"

PS. According to, worth noting is that the 1000:1 odds that a catastrophic asteroid will slam into the Earth are for the next 100 years, not each year. I couldn't find the odds for individual years; isn't that specific. Though, I was able to find "the world's funniest joke(!)," which I submit for your reading pleasure:

Two hunters are out in the woods when one of them collapses. He doesn't seem to be breathing and his eyes are glazed. The other man pulls out his cell phone and calls emergency services.

He gasps to the operator: "My friend is dead! What can I do?" The operator in a calm, soothing voice replies: "Take it easy. I can help. First, let's make sure he's dead." There is a silence, then a shot is heard.

Back on the phone, the hunter says, "OK, now what?"

PPS. Correction, says the odds of a catastrophic asteroid hitting the Earth in the 100 years are 5000:1. Thank God.

I'm worried that a tornado is going to pick up a wind tower and use it like a golf club to level my neighborhood.

That would get one teed off.

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