Holy leaking radiation, Batman!

Don’t drink the water, there’s tritium in the water. According to a Reuters article published on Oct. 11, Entergy Corp., the owners of Vermont Yankee, reported that a sample taken from a well near the plant contained roughly 1,000 picocuries of tritium. Entergy claims “this test result does not indicate any threat to public safety or health,” according to Reuters. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission also doesn’t require disclosure of tritium pollution until 30,000 picocuries are found, but the fact remains that Vermont Yankee has continued to disappoint Vermonters and clean energy advocates around the country. In 2012, if their license is not renewed, Yankee will be shut down — costing hundreds of jobs but averting the potential for disaster in Southern Vermont — and politicians have drooled over their chances to platform on this. Gubernatorial candidate Brian Dubie is a supporter of keeping the plant open, saying that it would cost too many jobs, but opposing candidate Peter Shumlin wants the plant completely renovated, which would cost millions of dollars. There are costs and benefits associated with both plans. Tritium is one of the least dangerous radionuclides, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. However, why would we choose to have radioactive material in the water at all if it was avoidable? Vermont Yankee should shut down and renovate. The energy the plant provides for much of the region is priceless, but Canada’s supply of hydro-power is staggering and could provide a substantial supplement if the plant was taken offline.   Another energy stand-in could come in the form of green energy. Though the output is minuscule compared to nuclear energy, wind farms and solar power are movie stars in the eyes of Vermonters. To combat the loss of jobs, Vermont Yankee employees could be used to assist in renovations; not only do they need employment, but they could provide knowledge about the plant that Entergy Corp. wouldn’t necessarily be privy to if outside work was brought in. The problems surrounding Vermont Yankee should not be used as a political platform by politicians. Studies, tests and analyses of the plant should be payed for by Entergy, and eventually, if luck is on our side, Vermont will see clean nuclear energy and a polished product. We should be ashamed of Vermont Yankee now, but if done right, Yankee can usher in a shining example of nuclear energy for the next generation.