Greenpeace's airship flies over Vermont Yankee

Entergy, the company trying to continue running dangerous old nuclear plants like Vermont Yankee, Indian Point in New York, and Pilgrim in Massachsusetts, is holding their annual shareholder meeting today. We sent them a letter highlighting the risks of these old plants, and questioning if the company has learned anything from the nuclear disaster in Japan.

Entergy’s mismanagement and checkered safety history at reactors like Vermont Yankee is particularly dismaying for a company whose nuclear plants put so many people at risk. Their CEO J. Wayne Leonard gave a bizarre presentation to analysts and investors last week, using several references from “The Hangover” movie.  One wonders why Mr. Leonard chose that particular movie when his own employees have had drug and alcohol violations on the job.

Unfortunately for tens of millions of Americans who live around Entergy’s aging and dangerous nuclear reactors, this company refuses to take safety seriously.  The Indian Point nuclear plant sits 35 miles north of New York City on two active seismic zones, but the company is still trying to run this plant for another 20 years. Entergy hasn’t seemed to have learned any lessons from the meltdowns at the Fukushima reactors.

It’s frightening that Entergy has such a cavalier attitude toward the safety of their nuclear power plants.  Especially, given the fact that Indian Point and Pilgrim rank as the top two reactors with the highest risk of an earthquake causing core damage.  What would it mean to have a Chernobyl or Fukushima scale accident at Indian Point?  Check out our video below.


Here's the full text of our letter:

May 5, 2011

Dear Mr. Leonard,

We at Greenpeace listened with great interest as you told stockholders and financial analysts that you couldn’t have a Fukushima sized earthquake or a tsunami on the Hudson and that in a worst case scenario Entergy would have Indian point “regenerating in three to seven days.” Incredible; the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s worst case estimates show that an accident at just one of Indian Point’s reactors could cause 50,000 fatalities and cost $314 billion and that doesn’t even address the threat posed by the radioactive waste pools.

Rather than a lesson in geography, geology and plate tectonics, your stockholders would have been better served had you outlined the proactive steps Entergy was taking to learn the lessons of the disaster in Japan and detailed the potential costs of incorporating them. Instead, we heard that your corporation has learned little and will likely do even less unless forced to by regulation.

As one state regulator put it, “If you are foolish enough or pompous enough to think that you can’t learn lessons from what is happening in Japan then you are at fault.”

What actions will Entergy take at its GE boiling water reactors of the same design as those at Fukushima and at Indian Point in response to the events in Japan? More than 17 million people live within 50 miles of Indian Point and a catastrophic release of radiation from the reactors or radioactive waste pools would be devastating. Has this given any pause to your company's efforts to run this aging nuclear plant longer and harder than ever before?

What, if anything, has your corporation learned from the Fukushima disaster?

Sincerely,

Jim Riccio
Greenpeace