UVM Hosts Vermont Yankee Debate

02/25/11 7:04AM By Peter Biello

(Host) Representatives of both sides of the debate over whether Vermont Yankee should be relicensed squared off last night at UVM in a public forum.

Meredith Angwin is a chemist and pro-nuclear activist. She says safety concerns about tritium leaks at Vermont Yankee are overstated.

(Angwin) "Tritium is a beta irradiator. That is, it sends out little electrons. Potassium is also a beta irradiator. What if you drank two quarts of EPA limit tritium limit water? That would be equivalent to a dose of about a twentieth of a banana."

Angwin's opponent, Arnie Gundersen, is a nuclear engineer and a member of Governor Peter Shumlin's Vermont Yankee Oversight Panel. He says the plume of chemicals leaking from Vermont Yankee contains more than tritium.

(Gundersen) "There's also in that plume radioactive cobalt, radioactive cesium, and radioactive strontium. Now, cesium is a muscle-seeker, and strontium is a bone-seeker and it goes to your bones."

Gundersen also argued that only about 200 people would lose their jobs if Vermont Yankee closed, but hundreds of new construction jobs would be created to oversee the decommissioning.

Angwin argued the economic impact would be more significant. She said Vermont's economy is sensitive to the price of electricity, and many businesses are worried about what the loss of Vermont Yankee would mean for their electric bills.

The Vermont Legislature voted last year to not relicense Vermont Yankee when its current license expires in 2012.

You can hear the full debate here.

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vermont_yankee politics
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