THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING
ARE WE PREPARED FOR A DISASTER?

In the shadow of aging reactors

March 27, 2011

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RE “DISASTER raises fears on aging N.E. plants’’ (Page A1, March 18): We should indeed fear nuclear catastrophe from our nearby aging nuclear reactors, Pilgrim in Plymouth and Vermont Yankee in Vernon. Reactors in the United States store spent fuel rods on site because there is no permanent storage for high-level radioactive waste. The industry is too cheap to dry-cask the waste, a somewhat safer practice.

In older plants there is far more of the tonnage now proving so catastrophic in Japan. According to the Nation, each Fukushima reactor has between 60 and 83 tons of spent fuel rods stored next to it, while Vermont Yankee has 690 tons of spent fuel rods on site.

What we are witnessing in Japan could happen here, without a devastating earthquake or tsunami. It could happen because the spent fuel rods are packed too close together and could heat up beyond the ability of the current technology to keep them cool enough.

First we should be afraid. Then we should get mad at industry and government for rolling the dice with our lives. Then we should take action so that these plants are not renewed or powered up, but rather shut down and the waste put in dry-cask storage at industry expense. That is probably the best thing we could do if we care about our kids.

Thea Paneth
Arlington