On Friday, Rachel Maddow talked about a nuclear reactor 30 miles from her home. It’s called the Vermont Yankee. The Vermont Yankee is a 30-year-old reactor. When you visit the Entergy Web site, it boasts that the Vermont Yankee has the ability to safely produce a maximum of 535 Megawatts of nuclear power. It produces over 1/3 of Vermont’s electricity.
Recently, it was found out that the Vermont Yankee was actually producing more than 535 megawatts of power and is instead producing 540 megawatts of power. (An aside, I find it rather curious that the Entergy Web site has 535 listed and the Vermont Yankee, 540. Did someone update the Web site based on his or her findings?)
But I digress. Last week, the Federal Government agreed to up that number by 20%, pushing the number from 535 (or 540) to 640 megawatts. Is it wise to push a 30-year-old nuclear reactor this much?
My brother and I have a recurring conversation from time to time regarding airplanes. Usually, right before we’re about to go anywhere, we’ll discuss the plane. Usually, we fly JetBlue. They tend to have newer planes. Ryan always jokes, “Yeah, I’m not sure if I’d rather fly in a new, inexperienced plane with all new parts and one that doesn’t really know itself yet. While one might break down due to wear and tear, who’s to say the newer one isn’t a lemon?”
Does the Vermont Yankee’s 30+ years work for it or against it?
When I was 5, we lived about 30 miles away from Three Mile Island. When it leaked, we were told to evacuate our hoome immediately. My mother was pregnant at the time with my little brother, the same one who would rather fly in an older plane. Over the years, and due to numerous reoccurring nightmares from the event, my actual recollection of it has become more and more contorted. I remember still scenes about it but I’m not sure if they’re real or they’re influenced by hundreds of dreams. Either way, I do remember holding my breath as much as possible before I felt we were safe enough away. I’m still afraid of Three Mile Island and nuclear power plants.
For years after the event, we continued to receive letters from the Pennsylvania state government inquiring about my brother’s health. While he seems fine, we make jokes about his intelligence (which is out of this world). From time to time, we blame his brilliance on the leak. We’ve even compared him to superman.
We don’t joke about his heart problems or the fact that a normal, resting heart rate for him is well above 100. We don’t discuss the fact that he is prone to extremely powerful stomachaches that come on for no reason whatsoever. While I don’t have any way of knowing that this has anything to do with the leak at Three Mile Island, we don’t joke about it either.
I like the idea of nuclear power, but I don’t like that we actually use it. It looks great on paper and in theory but I’m not sure humans are ready for it or ever will be, for that matter. I understand that it is clean other than the incredibly toxic waste it produces. But I find human err way too prevalent. Plus, its hazardous waste is basically immortal.
If you are indeed for nuclear power plants, one begs the question; are you OK with it being in your backyard? At one time, I had one in mine. And even a false alarm can last a lifetime.