Shoutout to my favorite one-hit wonder of all time…
So gather up your jackets, move it to the exits
I hope you have found a friend.
Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end
And here we are, on The Last Day of Vermont Yankee. Or, as @GovPeterShumlin put it:
The closure of Vermont Yankee today marks the end of years of controversy and represents a positive step for #VT and our energy future
— Peter Shumlin (@GovPeterShumlin) December 29, 2014
Yeah, well, as if.
Problem: today is not “the end of years of controversy.” It is, in the questionably immortal words of Semisonic, “some other beginning’s end.”
What ends today is the productive phase of Vermont Yankee’s history. What begins is the long slow wait for decommissioning. The chances of an accident will diminish, but we’ll still have a whole lot of hyper-toxic stuff SAFSTOR’d on the banks of the Connecticut River.
Look at it this way. The “lifespan” of Vermont Yankee was 42 years. The “deathspan,” if I may coin a word, will be AT LEAST 30 years. That’s the optimistic forecast for decommissioning. And that’s heavily dependent on the always-reliable, ha ha, stock market: Entergy’s decommissioning fund sits at $665 million, a little more than half the estimated cost of decom. Entergy says it won’t start decom until the fund grows to cover the entire (estimated) $1.24 billion price tag.
But hey, the markets always go up, right?
The way Entergy puts it, they’re doing us a big fat favor by planning the decom for the 2040s. By federal standards, they don’t have to do it until 2075.
Sixty years away.
In that scenario, the “deathspan” of the plant will have been 50% longer than the lifespan.
That’s the problem with nuclear energy. I’m not necessarily against nukes; if managed correctly, they do provide reliable carbon-free power. But there’s that long, lingering afterlife — and corporate America has never shown much dedication to long-term responsibilities.
Nor has public America, for that matter; we have yet to devise a long-term storage plan for all that nuclear waste.
Anyway, I suppose @GovPeterShumlin is only doing what a governor has to do: putting the best face on a decidedly mixed reality.
But I’d be very surprised if this was, in fact, “the end of controversy.”
And in the words of Semisonic, wherever they are today:
I know who I want to take me home,
and it ain’t Entergy.