House Speaker Shap Smith did something unusual this week: he put out a strongly-worded position statement on an issue not currently before the Legislature. More on that in a moment, but first, feast your eyes on this all-kinds-of-wrong picture.
That, my friends, is how they’re storing radioactive water at Vermont Yankee, as reported last week by VTDigger’s Mike Faher. That pool, seemingly stretched to the bursting point, is an Intex “Easy Set” swimming pool, advertised as one of “the easiest family and friend-sized pools to set up in the world.”
The photo was provided to VTDigger by a whistleblower. In case the obvious bulging and sagging causes you concern, Vermont Yankee is invoking its standard mantra, “no health or public safety impact.” Plant spokesman Marty Cohn insists that these family-fun pools are part of a “comprehensive water management plan.” The pools are in an enclosed and controlled space, and any little oopsies “would drain into the plant’s water treatment system,” reassures the industry-compliant Neil Sheehan of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Which may all be true. But good God, is that any way to build our confidence in a company with a, shall we say, checkered history of plant maintenance?
Entergy’s continuing dedication to bumble-rific management aside, what interests me is Shap Smith’s reaction. It’s uncharacteristic enough that the Speaker is going out of his way to take a stand on, as I said, an issue not currently before the Legislature. It’s doubly uncharacteristic in its language and tone, which are just this side of caustic:
“Last week we learned that, in February alone, Entergy had to take emergency action to store 90,000 gallons of radioactive water in swimming pools designed for family use. This outrageous scenario demonstrates the importance of having adequate resources on hand to fund cleanup efforts. We cannot afford for Entergy to shortchange a fund whose sole purpose is to ensure a safe and timely decommissioning process. I call on Entergy to act in good faith and focus their efforts on the critical work of cleaning up the Vernon site.”
He also made reference to “radioactive water… in kiddie pools” and accused Entergy of doing cleanup work “on the cheap.”
Where did this firebrand come from?
And does this have anything to do with the swirling rumors that Smith plans to run for Lieutenant Governor or even re-enter the race for the top spot?
That would seem to be a Connect The Dots puzzle consisting of two dots. But maybe I’m reading too much into it.