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One of the most notorious polluters in Massachusetts could close within 5 years. The owner, Dominion Energy of Virginia, says it will not be able to keep up with ever more stringent emissions restrictions. They adroitly skipped over the point that they’ve rarely – if ever – complied with environmental regulations, stringent or otherwise.

The plant has been the target of a steady barrage of complaints about their environmental violations. Dominion and all the previous owners have always made assurances that the will eventually comply, but they always need more time, and those deadlines have been chronically ignored.

While the announcement has been greeted by cheers from various environmental groups, any celebration might be premature. ISO New England, which manages the regional power grid, could step in and claim the power generated by the plant is necessary and shouldn’t be shut down, environmental threats notwithstanding.

ISO New England has already checked in on the possible closing of Vermont Yankee, with dire warnings that wires might overheat and other terrible things could happen if the plant goes off-line. No matter that the place leaks like a sieve, and by its own admission, is riddled with problems dating back to its original construction.

Those people need to get their heads out of dark disgusting places and sniff some fresh air for a change.

An old stone foundation along the Nashua River

It’s been way too long since I’ve been able to take a good long walk out in the woods. So today I put my tasks behind me and headed for a trail I haven’t been on in quite some time. Years, in fact.

Cook’s Conservation Area in Lancaster, Mass., is part of the Nashua River Greenway, a loosely connected network of trails that follow along the different branches of the river, in this case the North Branch.

It’s a bit of a challenge to find. The access point is on the west side of Route 70, about a mile south of Route2, or 1.7 miles north of Route 117, depending on which way you come. The only sign is a faded wooden one, well below the height of the road shoulder. The only thing to mark it is a break in the guard rail.

The main trail is an old cart path. It’s an easy walk, the scenery beautiful, perfect for a late November afternoon. The river here is narrow and fast, popular with kayakers.

I came across some old stone ruins. On two sides of the river, what’s left of a bridge abutments, but then something larger – what seems to be the foundation of an old mill, maybe a sawmill. A grist mill would have required a little more intricate stonework. A narrow channel runs off the river and through the stonework, in what was probably a sluiceway.

Sitting there as the sun was beginning to set, far from the nearest modern roadway and traffic noise, it was difficult to imagine a time when this would have been a bustling intersection. What would they have been doing today? The harvest would already have been in. Getting ready for winter? Would they be worrying if they had enough to carry them through a harsh winter? Would they have had taken the time to pause, and enjoy the last few hours of sunlight?

I’m becoming convinced that the folks at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are not blatantly incompetent, merely malicious.

How else can to explain their latest bright idea: allow habitats to be trashed in the name of “green power” construction.

The Environmental News Service today carries a report that the Corps has drafted a plan to allow fill into streams and wetlands for land-based renewable energy projects, by excluding such projects from review by other agencies.

What are they thinking?

I fully support the government doing everything it can to promote and develop new sources of energy, but not at the cost of causing any form of environmental degradation. We’ve done enough damage as it is.

The Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power plant in Vernon, Vermont, has sprung another radioactive leak. The plant was forced to shut down last night after workers discovered a pipe carrying water laced with tritium and other isotopes dripping at the rate of a drop per second, according to a report in the Burlington Free Press.

Nothing to worry about!

Spokesmen from both the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the plant were on the job last night assuring everyone that this poses no danger to the public. This is akin to crew members of the Titanic assuring passengers that there’s nothing to worry about even as the ship was going down.

And even as they scramble to plug this most recent leak, the owners of the plant, Entergy Corp. of New Orleans, announced this week that they’ve put the plant up for sale. They say they’re optimistic they’ll find a buyer!

The plant has only 17 months of operation left before its license expires, and there’s not a lot of interest in extending it. It’s more a question of whether to shut it down for good now or in a few months. De-commissioning the plant is estimated to cost between $500 million and $1 billion (not quite an exact estimate but what’s a few hundred million between friends?).

Earlier this year Entergy tried to slide out from under the financial obligation to pay for closing it down by trying to spin-off a new corporation to manage Vt. Yankee and its other nuclear plants. The idea seemed to be to let the plants shut down, then declare bankruptcy and let the taxpayers pay the bill. Luckily regulators in New York saw through the ploy, and shot down the idea.

This sounds like the 21st century equivalent of selling the Brooklyn Bridge.

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RSS Martin Laine – Digital Journal

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