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For those of you in the Vermont area, you undoubtedly have sat by, day after day, in the last few weeks, hearing about the tritium leak at the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. So have I. There are very few times in my life that I have felt passionate enough about a subject to stand up and be counted. This, however, is one of those times. The state of Vermont is literally sitting on its hands while they allow an outside corporation, Entergy, to leak radioactive materials into the groundwater. Just the day before yesterday, it was disclosed that they are drilling test wells to test the water in the nearby elementary school and nursing home to see if it too is contaminated. Almost simultaneously news broke that the leak has spread to the Connecticut River. The Vermont Legislature’s own experts have said that the leak is larger than a football field, 35 feet deep, 400 feet long and 200 feet wide. More importantly than that, it is possibly leaking into the water that children in the area who attend the local elementary school wash with and drink. Am I the only one that is outraged and startled by this? That same evening, in the newspaper alongside this news was an article how the Vermont Legislature is writing to Boy Scouts to review its policy on homosexuality to permit a lesbian couple to be cub scout leaders? Where are the Legislators’ priorities at this moment in time? The news is conspicuously absent any mention of how the Legislature or the Governor was taking action to CLOSE THIS PLANT DOWN in order to immediately contain the environmental impact. Nope, not a word. Water that is a part of daily Vermont life and considered a natural resource is being contaminated on a daily basis and that contamination is now into the river. The river that we share with New Hampshire and that flows into Massachusetts. The river that children swim in and farmers take water from to feed livestock that we eat and produce the milk for our dairy products. This morning’s paper had the headline that the Legislature’s own expert advised that the ONLY way to stop the leak is to shut the plant down. Yet, no action has been taken. Sad however to say that a local man, a few towns over from here, buried some oil barrels full of waste oil on his property. He was short of crucified by the authorities for causing environmental contamination. Yet, a multibillion dollar corporation can operate a plant which is causing contamination that is light years of magnitude larger than the little man with his oil barrels. Another instance of how our government somehow cringes in the face of the corporations yet its own constituents, the ones that elected them and chose them to represent the people’s interests are treated like second class citizens. At what point have we become, not a government of the people, by the people and for the people, but rather a government of the corporations, by the corporations and for the corporations? It is a sad commentary on our government, both the legislature that supposedly represents our interests and the governor that has taken a duty to serve the people of Vermont, that both would cowtow to a corporation, giving it one opportunity after the next to lie, rather than take swift decisive action.
The argument is that the closure of the plant would result in loss of electricity for the state and jobs. These are things that are not temporal, rather it is real and it will have real and very long consequences. Far longer than the loss of jobs or the transfer of electricity sources, which will be temporary inconveniences and roadblocks. I am sure that there is not one person out there, employed by Entergy or not, who would prefer that they and their children endure the consequences of contaminated water. I am sure that if push came to shove, not one of those people would sit down and gulp a big giant glass of the water coming from the plant or the water sources that it has now contaminated and thought that it was good. We are not a stupid people.
I have watched from the sidelines since we live no where near this part of Vermont. If I lived closer, if it were my children’s school that may potentially be involved or my dairy farm that was now in danger, I would be living at the Legislature’s building as I am sure that many who do live in the area are doing right now. I would be camping out on my Legislator’s dooryard. I would be demanding action and they would not be able to ignore me. I would be the thorn in their side on this issue.
Let’s hope that by enough outrage, our Legislators and our Governor finally take some decisive swift action. Someone has to make a move, let’s hope it’s just not too late – for all of us.
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- Vt. Health Chief: Tritium May in Connecticut River (abcnews.go.com)
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- Vt. Yankee says didn’t mean to mislead lawmakers (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Radiation Levels Cloud Vermont Reactor’s Fate (nytimes.com)
- Vermont Power Plant Continues to Leak Radiation (nytimes.com)
- Gov. to lawmakers: Hold off on Vermont Yankee vote (sfgate.com)