ENVY, the Seven Deadly Sins and Nuclear Power

by Jim Riccio

June 22, 2011

This week, Entergy Vermont Yankee or ENVY will have its first hearing after the Louisiana-based corporation sued the State of Vermont in an effort to run its forty-year-old nuclear reactor, the very same design and vintage of those at Fukushima, for an additional 20 years.

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ENVY and, for that matter, the federal bureaucrats at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) who purportedly regulate the splitting of atoms, have not even paused to consider the events in Japan; have not for one moment reconsidered the wisdom of running nuclear reactors longer and harder than ever before. Guess we can chalk that one up to hubris or in the parlance of the Seven Deadly Sins: PRIDE.

ENVY purchased the reactor at bargain basement prices and then their GREED & GLUTTONY got the better of them. ENVY attempted to boost the power of the aged nuclear reactor in order to boost their profits. Despite the approval and safety sign off by the regulators in Washington, the power boost resulted in a turbine fire and the collapse of one of the reactors cooling towers.

ENVY’s cooling tower wasn’t the only thing that collapsed in Vermont: along with the cooling tower went the credibility of both the regulator and the corporation. NRC’s renewal of nuclear reactor licenses is such a meaningless rubber stamp that state governments are looking at ways to rein in the nuclear reactors in their states. New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Vermont have all taken steps to circumscribe the operation of nuclear reactors within their borders. If the NRC actually regulated the nuclear industry rather than coddling it, the actions of these state governments would not be necessary.

But the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is a captured agency, it serves the nuclear industry, not the American people. The deadly sin this agency brings to mind is SLOTH. Not in the sense of indolence or being lazy but more in the older sense of the deadly sin which speaks to the failure to utilize one’s talents and gifts. The NRC could actually regulate; but the first reactor that applied for a renewed license couldn’t prove it was safe enough to operate. So the NRC at the industry’s behest gutted the rules governing the relicensing of reactors and every single reactor that has since applied has been approved.

ANGER in Vermont at both the Carpet-bagging Corporation and federal bureaucrats is understandable and most certainly warranted. The Vermont Senate voted 26 to 4 to deny ENVY the state permit necessary tooperate past March 2012. Yet the NRC, in the midst of the Fukushima meltdowns and radioactive wastepool failures, issued ENVY a permit for 20 more years of operation as if neither the agency nor the industry had anything to learn from the crisis in Japan.

The only deadly sin not yet incorporated into this atomic tale is LUST. There is nothing sexy about nuclear power. But LUST does play a role in Entergy’s nuclear operations. It was Entergy’s LUST for more power that brought this New Orleans – based corporation to New England and to incorporate ENVY. These Seven Deadly Sins may very well be its downfall as ENVY’s operations have cut into Entergy’s bottom line.

The Seven Deadly Sins were used by the early church to teach followers about the human propensity to sinin hopes that the masses would avoid these foibles. But still GREED, SLOTH, PRIDE, LUST, ENVY, and GLUTTONY are alive and well in the nuclear industry and this ANGERs those of us forced to bear the riskposed by their deadly radioactive wastes. It seems the nuclear industry and its regulators never made it to Sunday school…. Rather than attempt to again instill some “religion” into this industry, we should phaseout nuclear power before we have a Fukushima on U.S. soil.

Jim Riccio

By Jim Riccio

Jim Riccio served as Greenpeace’s Nuclear Policy Analyst from 2001 to 2017 and has over two decades of nuclear activist experience. He has been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, and Boston Globe, and has appeared on ABC News, NBC News, Al Jazeera, CNN, the Discovery Channel and the History Channel.

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