Vermont Yankee is a lady who loves trouble. Last year part of one of the nuclear power plant’s cooling towers collapsed. At one point in July this year the reactor’s coolant system was leaking 60 gallons of water a minute. That leak was found to be caused by ‘missing brackets’. Because that’s just what you need in a nuclear reactor’s coolant system, isn’t it? Missing brackets. Just why the brackets were missing and who was responsible has yet to be revealed.

And then we hear that Vermont has just received a ‘hot shipment’. No, it’s not a delivery of steaming takeaway pizza but a load of lead shielding from another nuclear site. It was ‘hot’ because the radioactivity from the shielding was found to have exceeded federal radiation levels. When the shielding left the Pilgrim nuclear plant in Massachusetts to travel to Vermont, its radiation level was in the ‘acceptable’ range. Mysteriously, when it arrived at Vermont it was above the level. Why was this the case and how had it happened? Nobody knows.

That’s the thing about the nuclear industry. It’s PR people, supporters, and cheerleaders can categorically, absolutely, and positively assure you that it is safe, cheap and clean. They’re definite, categorical, and cast-iron with their assurances and information.

Then something goes wrong and they’re all scratching their heads and shrugging their shoulders and shuffling their feet. They don’t know how such a thing could have happened. They don’t have the information. They’ll get back to you.

Once the fuss has died down again they’re all, ‘Hey! Nuclear power! Trust us, it’s great!’ again. And so it goes on…